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Peterborough-based company Whoocan Ltd has launched a new web-based service that will reduce the risk and time involved with finding good, reliable trades people to do work in people's homes and in businesses.

Whoocan - www.whoocan.com - is the brainchild of 19-year-old city-based entrepreneur Sophie Hurford. The new service is being piloted free to people based in the Greater Peterborough area until 17 July before being rolled out across the UK.

Searching for good, reliable tradesmen to do work around your home can be extremely time consuming. There is also the risk of employing a rogue tradesman, which could result in long delays getting jobs finished and expensive remedial work.

Whoocan overcomes these problems by linking people with relevant tradesmen who want their job. This allows them to select one based on a price quoted for their job and feedback and ratings from other people that the tradesman has worked for in the past.

"Whoocan has been in development for almost a year and I am really proud that Peterborough will be the first city to use it," said Sophie, managing director of Whoocan. "From market research we carried out when developing the service it was clear that the public were crying out for something more advanced and useful than just a directory of tradesmen. They wanted help with sourcing reliable tradesmen and they wanted to reduce the time spent finding them.

"Whoocan automatically matches the type of job that needs doing with relevant tradesmen who then, once approved by the customer, provide a quote through the website. Uniquely it also incorporates a rating system where people who have used a tradesman's services post feedback on how well they think the job was done - in a not too dissimilar way to how Ebay provides feedback on sellers and buyers.

"This, along with a quote for the work they want doing, gives purchasers of trade services informed choice about who they decide to use," continued Sophie.

"I have great ambition for Whoocan. I want it to be the way that people find tradesmen to do work around their homes - not just in the UK, across the world.

"Any time anyone needs a tradesman's services - Whoocan do it!"

Whoocan has received interest from a number of investors keen to see the service get off the ground. It already has over 250 tradesmen in the Peterborough area registered on its website, including builders, carpenters, plumbers, electricians as well as many other specialist tradesmen.

To use the system, people simply register on the website and post details of the work they need doing. This information is then automatically sent to relevant tradesmen for them to provide a quote. Over a period of either seven or twenty one days, this is selectable by the user, tradesmen then respond with a quotation for the work.

Once all the quotes have been received people are then able to select a tradesman based on the price quoted for the work and feedback that has been posted on the website about that tradesman by others. If there has been negative feedback about a tradesman they might not be chosen to do a job even though they may have provided the lowest quote.

People can also spend a lot of time contacting tradesmen who they subsequently find out are too busy to take on more work. Through using Whoocan, they will only get quotations from tradesmen that have the capacity to take on work and are therefore more likely to get the job done quicker and for a better price.

Tradesmen will also benefit from using Whoocan. By registering on the website they will be sent enquiries free of charge. It will also help them to manage peaks and troughs in work load by only sending enquiries when they want them.

July 2006

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