Favors are the currency of business. Or at least one them. You do someone a favor, and they return it. It’s a practice as old as business itself, but as with so many parts of the business game, there are ways to improve it.
Favo.rs — an aptly named San Francisco startup — aims to do just that. On Wednesday, as it emerged from stealth mode, the company launched an online marketplace where members can barter for favors. “We thought about what makes Silicon Valley tick — and the business world in general,” co-founder Adam Rodnitzky tells Wired.com. “And came up with this.”
When you join the marketplace, you provide your social networking vitals — i.e Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook profiles — and then you can negotiate with other members for favors, whether you’re “connected” to them or not. A marketeer working on a technical doc may reach out to a Java developer, looking for critical feedback. If the feedback is good, the developer can accrue a better standing on the site as a helpful person — or an authority on the topic — and his visibility within the network rises.
Favo.rs is an outgrowth of an existing company called ReTel Technologies. If you check Rodnitzky’s LinkedIn profile, you’ll notice he’s listed as ReTel’s chief marketing officer. The four-year-old ReTel provides monitoring software for retailers and restaurants that analyzes video of staff and floorspace and provides reports on how to improve the all-important bottom line. An appliance store could use the company’s tools to optimize how they place washers and dryers, or the optimal width of a walkway between the models of garbage disposals.
In other words, ReTel’s technology has nothing to do with social networking or the favor marketplace. ReTel got to a place where Rodnitzky and its management team could let it “go on its own.” Various channel partnerships are in charge of business development and the code needs minimal maintenance.
Essentially, the team had nothing to do, so it cooked up a new idea.
The two very different companies still exist under the same corporation. Rodnitzky says that ReTel’s revenue is the sole funder of Favo.rs and for the foreseeable future, the new venture won’t need new investment from the outside. The company didn’t even have to hire many additional engineers. ReTel runs on Java, while Favo.rs runs on Grails, the Java open source derivative.
When asked about the synergies between running and marketing ReTel and Favo.rs, Rodnitzky pauses for a moment and laughs. “I’m not sure there’s much, actually,” he says.