CONNECTING LOCALS: The creators of the new Jigsaw Neighbourhood app, Renea Bevan and Casey Davis.
CONNECTING LOCALS: The creators of the new Jigsaw Neighbourhood app, Renea Bevan and Casey Davis. Scott Powick

Savvy way to connect locals to business

WHEN Pottsville's Renae Bevan first took on the voluntary role of managing the Tweed coast community's Facebook page, little did she know it would lead to the development of a new business venture.

Ms Bevan and her niece, fellow Pottsville resident Casey Davis, launched their new phone app Jigsaw Neighbourhood in January, an app that helps locals connect with other locals to get jobs done without having to use Facebook.

"Say someone needs a tap fixed, you can put that in and say 'I need someone to come and help me fix my leaky tap' and John around the corner is a retired plumber and he might see that and say 'I'm happy to pop around and do it for $50',” Ms Bevan said.

"And he can come over and do that for you because he is verified and he is on Jigsaw.”

The idea was sparked after Ms Bevan constantly saw residents appealing for help from local tradies to do small jobs, prompting her at first to develop the Pottsville Tradies List group on Facebook way back in 2012.

With the list constantly evolving, Ms Bevan and Ms Davis saw an opportunity to develop something more accessible and easy to use.

And so was born Jigsaw Neighbourhood.

"It took us all last year to develop it, it was like starting a whole new business,” Ms Bevan said.

"It was a very long and in-depth process to get it to a very basic stage, so we soft launched it in Pottsville last year to get all the bugs out. Then in January, we kicked off our advertising and marketing into high gear and did a proper launch.

"It is just going great. It has had over 10,000 visitors to the website already.”

To ensure privacy and safety, the site relies on those joining up to verify themselves, using a photo and ID which are cross-checked by the team and securely stored, with anyone from tradies and businesses to local individuals encouraged to sign-up for a joining fee of $25 per year.

"The message we really want to get across is that people have to be verified,” Ms Bevan said.

"We want real people, not fake Facebook accounts. We are not prepared to deal with people who won't identify themselves. We want the person who contacts you to know you are a real person and you live in their neighbourhood and are not some random African king.

"From then on in, it is just a jobs board. You can tell people exactly how much you want them to know about you.”

While it is still early days, further development is under way to expand the capabilities of the app, including the ability to use live messaging and to use live GPS tagging.

  • To find out more, download the app from your app store or go to their webpage at www.jigsawneighbourhood.