When I was in school, there was a popular saying, “eat alone, die alone.” It was particularly aimed at stingy people who never liked to share their goodies with others. I used to think it was unique to my school until I found out it was actually a Jewish proverb. “Those who eat alone, die alone.”
So imagine my nostalgia when I came across an app called Never Eat Alone. For some strange reason, I thought it would be something close to what I expected, because of my school days. Turns out, it’s far from what I thought. Never Eat Alone is an app through which employees in departments of big corporate environments can connect with each other based on shared interests, and have lunch together.
People who work in such places usually have lunch with the same group of people everyday or they have lunch by themselves. To solve this problem of ‘not-mingling’ among big corporation workers, Never Eat Alone was born. The app allows employees, who would like to mingle with fellow employees of the same company but in other departments or cities, set up lunch meetings with each other. The employees can meet to share ideas and personal experiences over lunch.
One of the biggest problems that big companies face today is isolation of employee groups caused by the departmental model. People are so busy and focused on their own space that they avoid meeting new people from other departments in the company and relating with them. This, for example, is why we went through four seasons of Suits (the TV series) never once meeting Jack Solof until season five. It’s not that he wasn’t there at the beginning. It’s just that our characters hadn’t run into him because of this same issue.
One reason why good startups move at the pace they do is because everyone knows everyone else, and the organizational structure is usually flat. Creativity thrives when one is able to connect seemingly unrelated dots. What better way to do this than by learning new things from people working in other departments in your company? This is what Never Eat Alone is looking to achieve. Also, the app is a good avenue to improve employee retention and networks.
For now, the app functions in France and the US. A number of companies have signed up for it. The startup (Never Eat Alone) adopted the B2B strategy, instead of going the consumer route. Companies sign up to the service and their employees get access to the app.
Using the app is optional, it’s up to the employee to choose whether or not they want to use the app. Once the employee has the app, they can sign up and create their profile. They will indicate their interests and then go on to locate people in other departments with similar interests. A person working in operations, who likes playing video games, can connect with someone in the marketing department who likes video games too.