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Need a Favor?

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There’s an app for that
by Marene Gustin

Remember that time when you were under the weather and it was raining and you really wanted mee krob from that Thai place down the street? But if you were to venture out at all, it would be to get some NyQuil and Kleenex.

And if you had a friend who owed you a favor, you would so call them and ask them to deliver food and meds. But you didn’t.

No worries—there’s an app for that now.

Favor, an iPhone app developed in 2013 by Austinites Zac Maurais and Ben Doherty, just might be your new best friend. With a few finger strokes, you can order whatever you need from restaurants, grocery stores, and more. They’ll even pick up your dry cleaning.

“We would always see friends and neighbors at the local store and think it would be so much easier if we could consolidate the hassle of picking stuff up,” says Maurais. “Our initial goal was to create a more connected community to get anything you want delivered. Ben and I delivered pizza together in high school and thought people would be excited to get other things outside of the traditional pizza and Chinese food delivery model brought to them.”

They started in Austin, but have since expanded to select neighborhoods in Boston, Dallas, and, since January, Houston. During South by Southwest, the company announced a $13 million Series A financing in order to expand into San Diego and San Antonio.

“Texas is a really important market for us,” Maurais says. “A lot of consumer start-ups seem to think you need to be based out of San Francisco to succeed. We’re a high-growth company from Austin, Texas, so we like to think we turn that stereotype on its head somewhat. We see Houston as the next step in our own backyard. Since we launched in Houston in January, we’ve seen the effect of the local network. Everyone has a friend in Austin, Dallas, and Houston. Word of mouth is a huge driving force for Favor.”

Think of Favor as the Uber of delivery services, letting you hire local “runners” who act as personal assistants to fetch whatever you need and bring it to you. (Everything but alcohol, that is.) Currently, the Houston service area includes the Inner 610 Loop north of 59. Once you place an order on the app, Favor assigns a runner who picks up what you need. Then the app tells you the charge, you pay on your phone with a credit or debit card (including a 5 percent fee, a $6 charge and a tip for the runner) and the next thing you know, the goods arrive at your doorstep.

Yes, there are other delivery services like Grub Hub, but few that will deliver almost anything from almost anywhere.

“Houston has some awesome food options, but there is no delivery-service culture, unlike New York or San Francisco and now Austin,” Maurais says. “We’re trying to change that with Favor, by making the ordering and delivery process as easy and as seamless as possible. The fact that we’ll deliver from any restaurant or food truck within our delivery zone is huge for our customers. Now you don’t have to leave your couch to get your favorite tacos or barbecue delivered right to your door.”

Maurais says that so far the most popular requests are for delivery from Torchy’s, Jus’ Mac, Niko Niko’s, Bite Macaroons, Starbucks, and Sprinkles Cupcakes. But Favor runners can also pick up groceries, prescriptions, dry cleaning, and more.

Currently, the Houston service operates from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week and takes about 35 minutes to deliver—depending on traffic, of course. Maurais says they expect to expand to other areas of Houston in the future. So next time you don’t want to (or can’t) leave the house or office, just grab this handy app.

Do yourself a favor and visit favordelivery.com.

Marene Gustin is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.

Use code “OUTSMART” to receive $6 off your first order.

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.
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