It’s the next great American dream: build an app, drop it on iTunes or Google Play, and watch your bank account grow exponentially. Ideas for the next great app are plentiful, but it takes a special brand of person to actually run with it and build a company.
Favor was one such app born out of an idea from two recent college grads, co-founders Ben Doherty and Zac Maurais. They wanted to create a service that made it easier to ask and fulfill favors for people in your neighborhood.
“Initially, we envisioned a user going to a grocery store and logging in to the service to see if anyone else in your area needed something,” said Zac, CMO of Favor. Now the service has morphed into a full-blown in-app experience that allows you to get virtually anything in Central Austin delivered to you, with just a few taps on your smartphone.
When the neighborhood version of Favor didn’t exactly pan out the way they intended, Ben and Zac recreated the service as a beer and burrito delivery service and focused more on a mobile interface. The service was launched in early 2013 in San Luis Obispo, California and quickly became a hit with students in the area. The success plateaued after a few months, however. Growth was limited to people who only wanted beer and burritos, and the guys were ready for something bigger and better.
Favor in Austin
Zac Maurais had come through Austin on a cross-country road trip from his home state of New Hampshire to California. He recalled the city’s vibrant tech culture and huge university presence, two things that were critical to the next version of Favor. “It’s not something that we expected early on, but students have really been one of the biggest markets for us,” mentioned Zac. So Ben Doherty, CEO of Favor, came down to Austin a few weeks before Zac to get things started. One month later, in June 2013, Favor was officially launched in Austin, Texas.
“We can make just about any restaurant in the city into a Jimmy John’s,” mentioned Ben, referring to the speedy delivery times Favor is known for. “In fact, we actually fulfill orders from Jimmy John’s on a pretty regular basis.” That speaks to the experience Favor has been able to consistently deliver, as well as the high percentage of repeat customers. And consistency is key because there are a few other services in the Austin area that compete in the food delivery space.
Favor differentiates itself from the rest of the competition in Austin in two key ways. First, they don’t limit themselves to just delivering food. Favor prefers to refer to their team members as your “personal assistants.” They’ve delivered everything from designer shoes to the latest video game. Secondly, the entire Favor experience is wrapped around their mobile apps. Anything except alcohol can be ordered for delivery in the Central Austin area within a few seconds. You can even call or text your runner with additional instructions, all within your iPhone or Android handset.
How to Use Favor
The app itself couldn’t be easier to use.
- Type in your mobile number on Favor’s homepage and they’ll send you a link to download the app.
- Once inside the app, you can quickly register using only your essential information: email/address/credit card.
- After registration, you are taken to a “Featured” menu that displays hot menu items from restaurants near you, neatly categorized in topics like “Vegan” or “Healthy Options.” You can order something listed on the app or choose to create your own order. Just choose the venue and be specific with your instructions.
- The service itself is only $5 bucks per use, plus tip for your runner.
Craving lunch from one of the food trucks on S. Congress but can’t get away from the office? Just pull up the app, place your order, and within minutes you’ll get a confirmation from your personal assistant that your order has been received and is in process.
My first experience using Favor actually came after reading Austinot Eric’s review of Wholly Cow. I had never been, but I was in the mood for a good burger and Eric’s review tipped me over the edge. I just had to try one. It was late on a cold and rainy afternoon, so I didn’t feel like getting out anymore. I fired up Favor for the first time, and within 3 minutes I had placed my first customized order for a combo from Wholly Cow. I received a text confirmation within 5 minutes and was notified by the app as every step in the process was completed.
Forty minutes later, I was greeted by a Favor runner in a trademark blue tuxedo shirt with a steaming bag of goodness from Wholly Cow. All in all, a fantastic experience. I’ve been a regular customer ever since.
Despite only having launched in Austin seven months ago, the service has gained quite the following. I look forward to seeing what else Ben and Zac can come up with. As much progress as they have made over the last few years, their dream has only begun. “I was in P.F. Chang’s over the holidays with family in town, and over the course of dinner we had three runners in blue tuxedo shirts walk into the restaurant to pick up orders!” exclaimed Zac. “It was one of those moments where it finally hit home that we are really on to something here.”
Have you used any other delivery services in Austin?
Photos courtesy of AskFavor.com.