Innovation That Matters

Personalized home and garden advice in real time

Property & Construction

Fountain is an app that's connecting users to experts relevant to their home and garden problem within 5 minutes.

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Home improvements are always cheaper for those with a DIY attitude, but not everyone has the skillset of a handyman or designer and it’s easy for them to suddenly find themselves stumped. These days, when a problem arises the first thing to do is open up a browser and type it into Google. But while the web has become a huge resource for sharing solutions to common problems and tutorials for complicated techniques, those browsing it can soon get lost in a black hole of links and comment threads. Fountain is an app that’s now hoping to replace the search engine when it comes to advice, instead connecting users to experts relevant to their home and garden problem within 5 minutes.

The app is a video chat and image messaging platform that features a unique way to connect homeowners with DIY experts. Rather than choosing from stock questions or receiving advice from generalists who can’t properly answer the question, users simply type in their problem much like they would if they were using a search engine. A specially-designed algorithm parses the plain English, works out the area of expertise they need, and connects them with the most suitable expert for the job within 5 minutes.

Once they’re connected, users can talk over the phone or use HD video chat, but if that’s not suitable then they can use the instant messaging, photo sharing, screen sharing and white board capabilities.

The company is currently in beta, although the service will cost USD 5 a question — offering around 10-20 minutes of chat — once it’s launched. Extra time to chat will also be available at a further USD 5. Whether the average consumer will be willing to pay for such personalized guidance — given the breadth of free content already available — remains to be seen. The app follows in the footsteps of services such as Rise, which is currently doing a similar thing for dieters. Are there other areas of life in which this kind of one-on-one advice could be useful?

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