Having made some waves in the party world with his microblog, Dear Drunk Me, in the early 2010s, Alex is all grown up and ready to tackle one of the biggest issues in Corporate America – lack of communication. Having been in the corporate trenches for the past 10 years, Abell is a man on a mission. He’s created an app that promises to use tech to enable real face-to-face connections over the lunch hour. If you haven’t heard of Lunchpool yet, you will soon.
Tell us about Lunchpool. How did you come up with this idea?
Alex Abell: The concept has actually been a long time in the making, although the specific idea came to me a day before a startup weekend hackathon I entered. Having worked in various corporate roles, I knew that something wasn’t right. I kept hearing things like “knowledge silos” and “lack of cross-pollination” from the management, but they seemed to only be able to label the problems with buzzwords and not really come forth with real solutions.
Lunchpool is a pretty simple concept: go to lunch with other human beings. Get up from your desk and get to know the people around you. Use your allotted lunch break time to add value to the networks within which you find yourself operating. Our app helps make it easy – we connect people together for multi-party lunches.
How did you promote your company in the early days?
Alex Abell: We’re still very much within the early days. We had some early success by winning the Tampa Bay Startup Weekend. That win showed us that we could turn the app into a viable business that solved a real problem. We’ve been lucky enough to exhibit at events like the 2019 Synapse Summit, and gotten some early press for our early beta companies. By launching only in top tech-focused, high growth companies that value culture, we have created a sort of hype around the brand that’s backed up by a great product.
How have you been able to grow your business? Go specific.
Alex Abell: Growing the business has been easy with the team we’ve put together. All the growth we’ve enjoyed so far is because of how motivated we all are in solving the problem of ending the “desktop dining epidemic,” We’ve had trusted advisors like Dr. Richard Munassi MD MBA and Brian Kornfeld, and we also live within one of America’s hottest emerging startup communities in Tampa, FL. The community has been supportive in helping us reach the next step and the next goal.
What are some secrets to virality/sales in your most successful platform (Fb, Twitter, IG, Snap, Ecommerce, etc)?
Alex Abell: The biggest secret is to make sure you are offering something of value. We put a lot of thought and time into developing our product. We wanted to have something that is fun to use and really has that WOW factor that keeps you using it. By focusing on building something that will actually change human behavior, we’ve gotten a lot of buzz and virality.
If you want your product or service to go viral, make it awesome. The best advertising is a truly awesome, transformative product or service. If you suck, social media will make you suck louder. If you’re amazing, social media will show more and more people how amazing what you’re doing is.
Teach us something we don’t know about internet marketing, social media ads, fundraising, volunteering, yoga, sales funnels etc.
Alex Abell: Did you know that 80% of employees reported not eating lunch at all or eating lunch at their desk in 2018? It’s a crazy figure and we think our app can drastically reduce it. However, Lunchpool is not just about getting people away from their desk. We have seen a lot of research in social network analysis and network weaving that shows how success is directly tied to your networking abilities. We want to unlock that hidden power within people. You don’t have to use our app to do it, you can go start asking folks to lunch right now.
That said, our app will make it much easier to find and connect with the right people you should know.
What do you think you do better than most people? How are you able to do it?
Alex Abell: I think we are a lot better at promoting our app in a cool, fun way. A lot of the products and services aimed at helping companies build their internal culture is pretty dull. It’s stuff that I see executives buying and their employees will never, ever use it.
We make every product decision around the question, “would I use this? Is this cool?”
What are some of the best books you’ve ever read?
Alex Abell: I have to go with “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi. It’s a powerful primer in how impactful it can be to rotate dining companions regularly. He also says some really cool stuff about giving more than you get and the law of reciprocity. When you take care of others and lift them up, you’ll always be taken care of yourself. It’s the way the universe works.
Where do you see yourself and your product in a couple years? What’s your dream?
Alex Abell: We have hopes to break out of just an HR Tech app to the Urban Tech space. We want America’s progressive cities to embrace the idea and have it available for everyone and anyone to use. In a couple of years, we’re going to see people “lunchpooling” on the regular.