It’s a little bit AirBnB, a little bit Uber – and if things go well, maybe even a little bit Tinder.
A new Sydney-based platform called WelcomeOver is aiming to capitalise on the burgeoning share-based economy by bringing together strangers for dinner.
Behind the new platform is a mixed young crew comprising Nelson Higalgo, Johan Schyberg and John Welander with combined backgrounds in finance, engineering, insurance broking, project management and IT.
Co-founder Johan Schyberg tells Dynamic Business that the basic tenet of WelcomeOver is to bring people together, one meal at a time.
“I thought that it would resinate perfectly with an Australian audience with our love of food and openness to new experiences,” Schyberg says.
“Trust is a core ingredient to the success of the product and if you look at how Australians have embraced platforms like Uber and AirBnB, where trust is also fundamental to success, we thought this would be a perfect market.”
Like AirBnb, WelcomeOver provides a platform where hosts and guests set up personalised accounts for free.
The foodie hosts then set a price per head, stipulate the cuisine and outline specifics of those attending, like options for single-diners, vegetarians, or paleos.
Guests can view the profiles of other people attending, as well as browse by date, price or area.
Schyberg is confident it will work because of Australia’s love-affair with other share-economy platforms, as well as the success of a similar concept he came across while traveling in Indonesia.
But why would anybody want to eat dinner with a group of strangers?
Schyberg believes it boils down to people simply wanting to make more human connections.
“The benefits for both hosts and guests are that they can gain friendships, meet like-minded people and have an enjoyable experience.
“Individually the benefits for hosts include the opportunity to develop and experiment with their culinary skills and test recipes as well as a secondary income on their terms,” Schyberg says.
WelcomeOver also includes a rating system for both parties to weed out any repeat-offender hosts (or guests) and ensure people have an idea of who they’re about to dine with.
“Just like AirBnB there will be a ratings model and anyone who falls below a certain level we will investigate. Additionally we look to undertake police checks on all our hosts.”
The platform aims to make money by adding a 20 per cent commission on the price for each dinner, which is already included in the price shown on the website.
While it’s still early days for the entrepreneur team behind WelcomeOver, Schyberg says more and more subscribers are trickling in each day, and they’re banking on return visits.
“We believe once people try our service, they will love it and keep coming back,” Schyberg says.
Overall, they’re imagining the adopters to be a young crowd in the 25-35 age bracket, who are users of other share- economy platforms, enjoy socialising and are open to new experiences