Four years ago, entrepreneur and mother Elodie Bottine moved from France to the Bay Area in San Francisco. After two years of struggling to connect her and her family with the West Coast community, Bottine came up with an idea for an app that’s all about neighbor-helping-neighbor: MyNabes.
“We all are so busy in our daily lives, rushing around to do the next thing and we do not notice the people we’re next to in coffee shops or at the grocery store,” said Bottine. “MyNabes is an app that connects people face-to-face, not just behind a screen like social media. This is more personal.”
MyNabes, launched this October by Bottine and her co-founder Raluca Perkins, another Bay Area mom, is a free app that allows users to engage with their neighbors through making requests in one of 19 categories. The categories range from teaching and coaching, giving advice and helping with groceries to scheduling kid playdates, babysitting pets, and finding buddies for sports activities. The app also discourages neighbors from offering each other money. Instead, they can choose from six “rewards,” including offering homemade cooking, going out for a drink, a simple thank you, and more.
“MyNabes isn’t about making money, it’s about meeting people,” said Bottine, who uses the app with Perkins to ask neighbors to join in their weekly Friday hikes. “When I was in France, I met this 92-year-old woman who lived in the same neighborhood for 70 years, but she didn’t have any connections. No one was taking care of her, so I started to help her with groceries and the pharmacy and she became like my grandmother. That’s what I want this app to do for people.”
Currently, MyNabes is being used by roughly 600 people and in six San Diego neighborhoods, including La Jolla.
“I have a lot of friends in La Jolla, so I’m sure that was part of why it’s done so well there,” said Perkins, who is originally from Romania and moved to the Bay Area 10 years ago.
She added, “In Europe, everyone watches those American movies when someone moves into a new neighborhood and one of the neighbors comes with a pie and welcomes them to the area. I’ve lived in three or four different neighborhoods and that is really not a natural American thing to do. We thought that, by using the app, people would be more willing to connect to their neighbor without feeling that they have to go knock on their door and break the cultural, social barrier.”
But not only is MyNabes a source for helping communities, it’s also an app focused on aiding the planet through encouraging neighbors to carpool, share appliances and tools and donate goods they no longer need.
“Instead of buying something new, you can borrow it,” said Bottine. “Instead of trashing everything, you can donate. We too often overconsume and buy so many things we don’t really need.”
MyNabes is also lending a hand in promoting government transparency. Bottine and Perkins just signed a contract with San Francisco’s City Hall to create a special category in the app this spring where users can engage directly with City Hall and share their ideas and suggestions. City Hall will also have a dedicated interface so they can respond to people directly. Perkins and Bottine also hope to implement this app feature with San Diego’s City Hall.
“A lot of people complain about the lack of transparency with administration, so we want to break that barrier and get these conversations going by joining the whole community together,” said Perkins. “We’re encouraged to see so many people drawn to this app.”
MyNabes is available nationwide, currently used most prominently in San Diego, Miami and New York. For more information about MyNabes, visit mynabes.com.