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UH grad launches website to help Houstonians avoid long lines

Mae Woods hopes to cut down people's wait times when they're out during the COVID-19 pandemic

HOUSTON — The coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives in many ways, including how we shop.

Waiting in a line almost anywhere we go these days is the new norm, as are the frustrations that come along with it.

A new website called Howbsy.com, however, is helping alleviate some of that stress. The crowdsourced platform shows you store wait times in real time.

The website was co-founded by Mae Woods, a University of Houston graduate who played for the Cougars women’s basketball team. She and her business partner, Pan Khantidhara, launched the site last month in Canada, where it quickly took off after gaining over 100,000 users.

"Pan and I just built the platform, but it's the community that's really taken the website to the next level. It's amazing seeing so many people wanting to help each other and share this information with each other,” Woods said.

The site recently expanded to the U.S., including Portland, before launching in Houston last week. The site plans to expand to more cities, including the possibility of Austin and Dallas. For Woods, though, Houston is a nice homecoming.

“Houston is my second home and I’m really excited that it’s there,” she said.

The site allows users to avoid long wait times by searching for a specific store or finding what’s nearby. Users can input their own wait times while they’re in line to give others an idea of what to expect. The website rewards users who enter wait times often with recognition badges.

The information isn’t limited to grocery stores. It also includes wait times for banks, pharmacies, restaurants, liquor stores and more. The site’s new community feature can even tell users whether the item they’re shipping for is in stock.

It’s all valuable information, Woods said, that can bring communities together.

“It was (Pan) and I’s way of giving back during this time,” Woods said.

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