Jarvus Innovations: Northern Liberties web development firm grows up - Technical.ly Philly

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Aug. 26, 2011 2:00 pm

Jarvus Innovations: Northern Liberties web development firm grows up

The 10-month old web design firm grew out of those behind Devnuts, a coworking space on North Third Street.
Full disclosure: Technically Media's Philly Tech Week website was developed by Jarvus Innovations.
Updated, Fri., Aug. 26, 3:10 p.m.: Added detail that Indy Hall's Alex Hillman is a partner in Dynamic Wear.
Before the sun rises on North Third Street, just south of Liberty Lands Park, one can spot delivery trucks in front of a local bakery.

It’s a scene reminiscent of Philadelphia’s past, and a reminder of industry that was active before white collar jobs began taking root in places other than Center City, like Old City and Northern Liberties.

One of those companies is Jarv.us Innovations, a small, private web development firm that has been renting office space at a rehabbed, former glass-blowing studio just down the street from the bakery, and it’s contributing to a growing movement of young workers that is interested in changing how business works.

The firm is the anchor tenant of the space, which it rents to partner companies and freelancers under branding that represents its collaborative workspace: “Devnuts.” What Devnuts means literally is that they’re nuts about web development. Figuratively, Devnuts is the mission of the collaborative inhabitants: actionably trying to change business and workplace culture.

The Devnuts model is not unfamiliar to coworking facilities like Old City’s Independents Hall: by making desks available to anyone — for a fee, of course — minds can meld and talents combine.

We’ve written about the organizations in the past — Jarvus and Devnuts — but it’s worth another look to see how the organizations are growing. Can this culture shift support strong commerce?

Ten months ago, the Devnuts crew launched Jarvus, an incorporated company that brings together talent to work on collaborative projects that Devnuts inhabitants were completing for clients more informally. It’s perhaps the tie that binds.

Though their energy and excitement is part of the charm, visiting the company and collaborative space’s founders in late July — Chris Alfano, John Fazio and Matt Monihan — it was clear that the organizational vision tends to get muddled.

But nearly a year after incorporating, one thing is clear: since separating the business, Jarvus, from the mission, Devnuts, they’re getting things done.

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They’ve recently launched CreditScout, a web app that allows filmmakers to search state tax credits for shoot locations. It’s an interesting model, Fazio says.

And along with a handful of web development projects with local companies [including, full disclosure, Technically Media’s Philly Tech Week website], they’ve had releases like a mobile iPhone and Android applications for Consumer Reports.

The company is also launching soon an automated t-shirt fulfillment application (due out next week, the collaboration with ChoiceShirts is called Dynamic Wear, of which Independents Hall’s Alex Hillman is a partner), a building code violations reporting tool for building owners in New York, and more.

We wouldn’t normally mention uncompleted projects, but it’s the model behind them that is worth sharing: the company is offering services in exchange for equity stake in some cases. As the guys put it: “it’s the Richard Branson model where you decentralize corporate structure” and create collaboration without cash on hand.

And that’s a whole lot different than that bakery up the street.

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