January 11, 2011

LunchTree Hits Bay Area for Random Geek Connections

Geeks working on startups are notorious for not getting out much. Slaving in front of computer terminals at odd hours, the option of lunch often takes on a familiar routine - the same locations, the same people... even the meals themselves become things of habit. With projects taking precedence over casual connections, it's not unsurprising some startup addicts gain a feeling of isolation. A new gambit called LunchTree, targeting the Bay Area startup community, is hoping to put a dent in this, helping people meet with similar interests over one meal a week, on Tuesdays. That's it - with no confusion of dating services, or anything similar. The idea? Potential for new perspectives through new connections.

The setup for LunchTree is quite simple. Create a profile (here's mine), set up criteria for the type of connection you would like to meet for lunch, and then set a lunch zone. When you have picked a lunch zone, list one or more preferred restaurant, and then, come Tuesday, you have the option to meet a fellow geek for lunch.

Who Do You Want to Go to Lunch With?

If your lunch match options overlap with another person, then early Tuesday morning, your registered phone with LunchTree will get an SMS message at 10:30 on Tuesday asking if you are free to share a mid-day meal. If the answer is affirmative, text back "Join". Then you will be matched with another LunchTree user at a nearby eating place that works for you both.

A Profile on LunchTree

Lunch History on LunchTree

The founder, Jesse Spaulding, first hit our radar way back in early 2008 with his project BlogRize, a platform aimed to help blogs grow their communities. While that site didn't hit the big time, his focus on growing a community never wavered. While the community at LunchTree is quite small now, having just launched, one can easily see the value of casual connections between similar minded folks in the real world over something as simple as lunch. And lest folks get concerned that this is a back-door approach to create yet another dating site, you can specify you only want to meet members of the same gender, and you can't select the reverse. Good luck, lunchtime Lotharios.

If you are in the Bay Area, and you think random meals with similarly-minded folks in your community would add benefit to your life, you should check out LunchTree. You never know if your next connection could end up being a great partner, cofounder, or even a VC.