Editor’s note: This is the inaugural year for CultureMap’s Top Texans Under 30, a program that celebrates the twentysomething power players making a difference in their industries and communities across the Lone Star State — and, in some cases, the world. The full list is here. For now, read all about Ben Doherty and Zac Maurais.
Best friends since high school, Austinites Ben Doherty and Zac Maurais had no idea that one simple question — “Why can’t you get delivery from anywhere?” — would change the course of the careers.
The entrepreneurial spirit sparked, they set up shop in Doherty’s parents’ basement with a book on basic web development and a dream. They learned how to code and built an app from scratch with the simple tagline: “Get anything delivered.”
Three years later, Favor has become one of Austin’s best startup stories. The pair raised more than $11 million in funding, and Favor is currently in 18 U.S. cities — and growing.
But the 27-year-olds see their work as so much more than just an app. It’s a way to make everyday tasks easier, and it strengthens local economies.
We chatted with the pair to get a glimpse of their philosophies on Texas and life.
CultureMap: What inspires you to do what you do?
Ben Doherty: It sounds funny, but I’ve been passionate about delivery for over 10 years. As soon as I got my driver’s licenses, I started delivering pizzas. I kept delivering through my college years until we came up with the idea of Favor.
I’m inspired by the opportunity to deliver anything and create a more connected community of delivery drivers — or “runners” — merchants, and customers that works seamlessly together.
Zac Maurais: Favor is making a positive impact on local economies across the country. Our partners are seeing a significant rise in incremental sales. Several popular vendors are receiving over a million dollars a year through the app.
It’s rewarding and gets me excited to imagine the large number of jobs that extra revenue is generating.
CM: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other Texans trying to innovate in their industry?
BD: When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to get distracted on your quest to find product market fit, meaning when at least 40 percent of your customers would be disappointed if they can’t use your product. Be maniacal about choosing what not to work on. If you focus on the right things, your business will start growing very quickly. At that point, strap in and enjoy the ride!
ZM: Success starts with having an optimistic attitude. Disruptors believe they can change an industry when others think it’s impossible. Make new rules and challenge conventional wisdom.
CM: Sum up Texas in three words:
BD: Sunny, burgeoning, down-to-earth.
ZM: Land of tacos!
CM: What’s one thing that people might not know about you?
BD: I like to dance.
ZM: For fun, I’m learning how to plein air oil paint.
CM: Finish this sentence: “It’s a good day when … ”
BD: I’m out to eat with friends, and we spot a runner in our blue tuxedo T-shirt. An even better day is when I overhear them encouraging others to become a runner.
ZM: When Favor brings me kimchi fries!
RSVP now for the CultureMap Social: Top Texans Under 30 Edition, October 25 at 800 Congress, to celebrate Doherty and Maurais and their fellow Austin winners.