Putting A Price On Time

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Employee Alex Lazarev and cofounder Troy Lester

Time is money, according to an old saying, and it’s one of society’s most common exchanges. But two young, ambitious college graduates wondered why the exchange couldn’t function in reverse, so they sought to create a way for money to buy back time. The result was Covet, a local app-based service that will perform a diversity of tasks, from grocery shopping, to babysitting, plumbing and even doing laundry. The company’s founders, Troy Lester and Max Drut, were inspired by their time as roommates at the University of Vermont, when they found themselves more than willing to part with a few bucks if it meant checking something else off their to-do lists.

“We’d always wish we could get whatever we wanted, when we wanted it,” recalled Lester, who attended Great Neck South High School and ended up transferring from Vermont to Stony Brook to complete his degree. “We were willing to pay a bit of a premium to get it to us. I called [Drut] up and said, ‘Max, you know how we were always complaining about this? We should solve that here.”

Lester and Drut spent the last six months developing their idea from the ground up. They originally envisioned the app as a concession to people’s desire for convenience, something that serviced the “requester side of the market place.”

However, they turned their attention towards what they saw as an underutilized freelance economy, which currently occupies 34 percent of the U.S. workforce. From there, their app became as much about appealing to potential freelance employees as it did consumers.

“Let’s go with the Uber driver example,” said Drut. “You have the illusion of getting paid right away, but you’re not taking into account car depreciation costs, for example, where you’re spending money on gas. You can pay today’s bill, but you’re not going to pay your mortgage, build a house and start a family. We’re trying to take a skill set and turn that into a career.”

Requests are made directly through the Covet app and can also be called in. Covet’s freelancers, known as “coveteers,” will then take on whichever jobs their skillsets apply to. The screening process for coveteers is extensive. Following an in-person interview and background check, potential coveteers will perform tasks strictly for Lester, Drut and their families for the first two weeks. If the coveteers prove to be sufficient and trustworthy, they are free to fill requests in Nassau County.

“We have really great people,” added Lester. “It’s basically a personal recommendation from us. That’s what we really moderate.”

The app’s name and the company’s de facto motto acts as a twist on the 10th Commandment: Thou shalt covet. With an eye on serving local suburban communities, Covet hopes to one day expand beyond Nassau County.

“[The app] really caters to your needs in terms of you being able to fully customize the request you need to get done,” said Drut. “There have been plenty of studies [that show] people that are spending money to save time, it truly makes them happier.”

Visit www.covet.work for more.

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