Making connections with AI — one lunch at a time

Vladimir Novakovski
Sep 26 · 3 min read

As we announce a milestone this week, I’d like to step back and reflect on why we founded Lunchclub.

Imagine if Jobs never met Wozniak, if Ada never met Babbage — if Mandela never met Tutu. Meeting the right person at the right time can represent a massive inflection point in someone’s career.

Why is it that, even with the all the tools we have at our disposal, it is still so hard to meet the right people and grow your network? A few years ago, I heard from a former colleague who wanted to introduce me to a Seattle-based investor in his network who had an idea to run by me. When I later spoke to this investor, in turn, he really wanted me to get to know a new startup he was working with. Several weeks and a bunch of email exchanges later, I was finally having lunch with the startup founder, who it turned out was based just a few blocks away in San Francisco and had lots of past experiences that mirrored my own. We ended up speaking for hours and are still in close touch today. Talking to another human being that happens to be like-minded and also happens to have complementary goals — that’s when magic happens. But the process of getting there is ad hoc and convoluted and made harder as often as it is made easier by modern technology.

Our psychology leads us to value in-person interactions and serendipity, and this is particularly true for meaningful professional connections. However, the innovations of the Internet, big data, and machine learning have mostly led to a record of who you already know and ways to consume relevant content online. Someone who wants to meet relevant people and grow their network has pretty much the same options as existed 50 years ago: conferences, classes, introductions by mutual connectors.

That’s why we created Lunchclub, the world’s first AI superconnector. Our platform is the catalyst for offline connections that are also mutually relevant. In fact, the data that’s needed to do this well is already there — it’s right there on the Internet, generated by the social networks built in the Web 2.0 era. By having an algorithm accurate enough to make connections directly, we are able to avoid the noise and adverse selection that have plagued past attempts to solve this problem. And by supporting a broad combination of one-sided (finding a co-founder, meeting like-minded folks) and two-sided (connecting with an expert, investor, potential hire) marketplaces, value is created in ways that are serendipitous instead of transactional.

It has been incredibly gratifying to see all the meaningful connections that Lunchclub has already created for our users across SF, NYC, LA, London, and other key hubs. We have seen companies get started, songs and animation series created, investments made, consulting, advising, side gigs, people collaborating on projects — as well as interesting conversations and new friendships. Join our waitlist and try it out: https://lunchclub.ai/.

To continue to grow and expand our platform to create value for users in more cities and industries, we have closed a $4M funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz. They have already been incredible partners and we are learning from the world class expertise on growth and marketplaces of Andrew Chen, Li Jin, and the rest of their team, as well as our other investors and early backers.

With a16z, the firm famous for “software eating the world” as our partners, we can deliver on the vision of software “eating” the world of offline connections as well — one lunch at a time.

Lunchclub

Meaningful offline professional connections. https://lunchclub.ai/

Vladimir Novakovski

Written by

Working on @Lunchclubai, founder, angel investor, advisor to startups, VCs, and LPs. Previously CTO at Euclid, VPE at Addepar, and Head of ML at Quora.

Lunchclub

Lunchclub

Meaningful offline professional connections. https://lunchclub.ai/

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