Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Connecting People Over Food, With SupperKing and Kai Stubbe
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
What's the best way to meet new people and friends? Supperking (http://www.supperking.com./), a newly launched startup, is hoping that one of those ways will be over a home cooked meal you discover over the phone's iPhone application. We spoke with CEO Kai Stubbe to hear about how SupperKing is looking to create a service--inspired by collaborative consumption sites like Airbnb--which will let people host meals in their homes for strangers, to get to meet new people, show off your cooking skills, and hopefully make new friends.
First, what is SupperKing all about?
Kai Stubbe: SupperKing is basically the first platform that enables a peer-to-peer, in-home dining experience. The cool thing about SupperKing, is whether you love cooking, or love to show off in front of your friends, or would like to get to know your neighbors, or meet new people, or just love to throw a party and want to share costs, SupperKing enables all of these possibilities. When you think out the use case, it's all about people who love to have dinner parties at your place, who love to meet new people, and who love to create events, whether they are public or private. In the case of a private event, maybe you make the best Pasta Bolognese, you can put on your own event, charge $15 each for six seats, and let people know it's available. They can discover that event in the app, or soon, on our web platform, say--hey, this looks cool, the last event has some great pictures, looks like this might be fun--and they can buy tickets. They then go over to the home, and have a great dining experience.
You can also make your event private. Say, you love to hold dinner parties, but want to share the cost with your friends, and don't want to pay for everyone all the time. It's usually uncomfortable to ask for money, so instead, you can upload the event, and everyone can buy a ticket. It takes the hurdle out of asking people for money.
Another way to use this, is if you are a user in a new city, and you don't know people, you can go on SupperKing and go see events, go meet people, and have a great time.
How'd you come up with the idea for SupperKing?
Kai Stubbe: I was traveling a lot. I'm from Germany, and had been traveling all around the world. I'd be in a new city, and wouldn't know anyone. And you can't just go to a restaurant and say hello to people, it's very difficult. I always said--how much better would life be if I could sit at a table of locals, eat, and talk about our commonalities, and get local insider news. I was reading an article about collaborative consumption and sites like Airbnb, and it just clicked. Why doesn't something like that exist for food? I then discovered that we could build a whole community around it.
Are people really that open to share meals and their homes with strangers? How has the reception been to this?
Kai Stubbe: We've gotten great feedback from our beta testers, and they like it. Companies like Airbnb have been super successful. But, what I always say, is that before I would let a stranger sleep in my bed, I'd prefer to have them at my dinner table. The thing about SupperKing, is you get to meet new people and interact with them, build new friendships, and it's not just about monetization. It's really about building community, and meeting new people.
What were you doing before?
Kai Stubbe: I have a finance background, and studied international finance in Germany, Chile, South America, and Australia. I used to work for KPMG Advisory Group, and spent time in China and Beijing. About three and a half years ago, I got my Master in Financial Engineering at UCLA, and did a double-MBA at Loyola Marymount, focused on finance strategy. I founded my first company in 2010, building a daily deals site based on a mobile platform around a fraternity, Alpha Kai. We turned that into a social platform. Then I founded Tradeupwebs in 2012, and Supperking is the first, big company that Tradeupwebs is going to launch.
We noticed you launched a mobile, iPhone app first, what was your thinking behind going mobile first?
Kai Stubbe: Supperking is a social discovery app. Because the iPhone app is so intuitive, it's easy to upload an event on the iPhone. And, if you're walking around and looking for an event, and don't want to go to a restaurant, the easiest way to do that is on your phone. At the same time, we're also developing a web platform, which we will be launching in January. After our next round of funding, we'll definitely be developing an Android app as well.
What's your ultimate goal with SupperKing?
Kai Stubbe: Our goal is to create a great Supperking community. We're launching in San Francisco, LA, and New York, and hope to build a community nationwide. We're also looking at Europe, and hope to launch in Europe first in Germany and the UK. We hope to turn Supperking into an international community, so that if you're in a new city, don't know any people, but want to meet some locals, Supperking will be the way to go.