RunMyErrand Wins a Trip to Facebookland

5/29/09Follow @wroush

Yesterday social networking giant Facebook unveiled the winners of its first fbFund Rev competition, a contest to pick 20 organizations building Facebook-related social media applications for a 10-week company-building incubator program at the company’s Palo Alto, CA, offices. Among the winners was RunMyErrand, a Charlestown, MA-based startup we profiled in February.

RunMyErrand.com is a “service networking” website where people in local communities can post odd jobs that they need done—walking the dog, picking up a package—and “runners” can sign up to do them, with payments handled electronically. Founder and CEO Leah Busque says the service appeals to people like busy parents or professionals who are willing to pay someone else a few dollars to take care of a simple tasks if it frees them up to do something more important or more lucrative.

Busque’s startup built connecting software that allows Facebook users to log into RunMyErrand.com from their Facebook accounts, and see which of their errands have been picked up by runners. Their friends can also see this activity, which helps RunMyErrand by spreading viral awareness of the service.

The companies selected for fbFund Rev summer session will receive investments of up to $100,000 from Facebook, although they aren’t allowed to say how much they’ll get. I caught up with Busque by e-mail this morning; here’s our brief interview:

Xconomy: Congratulations on your selection! When will you be going to Palo Alto?

Leah Busque: Thanks so much!! [We're] not sure yet. I think the program starts June 15, so we are looking forward to heading out sometime in June.

X: What do you hope or expect to get out of your time there?

LB: We are really excited to be working side by side with the Facebook experts and engineers, and are hoping to learn as much as possible about the Facebook platform, and new ways we can utilize the social graph to enhance RuyMyErrand.

X: What does the RunMyErrand Facebook app actually do? How does it draw on the power of the Facebook social graph—which is obviously something they look for when they’re handing out these awards?

LB: Currently we have a soft implementation of Facebook Connect integrated into RunMyErrand. If you are a RunMyErrand user, you can use your Facebook credentials to login to runmyerrand.com. Whenever you post or run errands, they can be aggregated to your Facebook profile, and to your Facebook news feed. If you post an errand to Facebook, all your friends can see not only that you are using the service, but they can also see which Runner picked up your errand and all their ratings and reviews. Your friends will be more likely to trust that same Runner as well. This is one way we are building trust between people in the service network that we are building. We know there are many other use cases for the Facebook platform to strengthen trust between users on RunMyErrand, and we are looking forward to brainstorming and specing out some new features with the experts this summer.

X: How much money do you expect RunMyErrand will receive? FB said the final 20 winners will get $500,000 altogether; have they explained how it’s going to be divided?

LB: As part of the deal, we are not able to disclose the amount of funding we will receive from FB.

X: How are things going with the company? Any success metrics you can share?

LB: Things are going really great! We’ve brought on a second full time employee, Rylan Hamilton, who will graduate from Harvard Business School next week. With my strong technical and engineering background, and his business savvy, we make a great team! We are also incubating at Zipcar full time now. They have been nice enough to give us a few desks to use, and it is so nice to be surrounded by all the very smart and wonderful people over there. We will also have a couple of interns this summer from Boston College working with us, so we have major plans to continue our growth here in Boston.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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