A new app in Chicago wants you to stop eating out by yourself, and hopefully make some business connections over your next meal.
DineHero, a Chicago startup working out of 1871, has built a networking app that lets you connect with people in your area, grab a bite at a nearby restaurant, and talk shop. The iOS app launched earlier this month with the goal of helping you “never dine alone again.”
In the app, users can create “dining events” for lunch or dinner, and send invites to people close by. Users can also browse open events on a map in the app, and join one they might like. DineHero pulls information on where you went to school and what you do for work from your Facebook page to let you find people with similar interests and backgrounds. Each meetup has a max of four people in order to keep the group’s small for better conversations, founder Thet Soe said.
“We want to transform online networking into offline face-to-face interaction, and combine it with food,” Soe said.
DineHero is for professionals looking to network with people in their field, people starting a job in a new city, business travelers spending a weekend in a new town, or foodies that want to try a new restaurant and who’d rather not eat alone, Soe said.
Soe, a former chemical engineer, said the idea was born after years of eating along while traveling to new cities for work. And traditional networking events, where you spend only a few minutes meeting new people, were too impersonal.
“A lot of networking events are not very effective,” he said. “People bounce around too much and don’t spend enough time to get to know each other. That’s why we want to do face-to-face networking over lunch or dinner.”
Eventually, Soe hopes to partner with corporations who will use DineHero as an onboarding tool for new hires. Instead of eating lunch alone at their desk, new employees would get matched with others in the company to grab lunch.