Mentoring For Lunch?

    Lunchback wants to help its users in creating meaningful connections.

    Lunchback helps students, professionals and entrepreneurs to share experiences for a price of lunch. Photo: Shutterstock

    Jimmy Zhao moved to Sweden ten years ago from China. A guy born and raised in a culture that is based on building your guanxi – the personalized network of meaningful connections – found it difficult to connect with people.

    “Everybody is searching for mentorship and meaningful connections, since you don’t usually get anything out from mingling,” says Zhao who founded Lunchback – A platform that connects people searching to develop themselves. The platform enables one to search for lunch company with matching skill-set to help. Lunchback is Zhao’s third startup, which has already won Stockholm startup weekend and Maastricht entrepreneurship week within 6 months after founding the service.

    “Our goal is to create a curated community around startups – And Lunchback is a handy tool to bring people together,” says Zhao. The company has already brought together 1000 users in Sweden who have arranged 450 lunches among each other.

    Lunchback is connected to the user’s Linkedin profile. Photo:

    The users can search mentors based on expertise and check out for instance in local area who is the best lean startup coach based on the community’s opinion. Lunchback is a free platform, and it’s based on rating system that the community curates.

    “We want to help people to get to the next level – and with Lunchback you can ask help from someone who has already experienced the same issues,” says Zhao and is happy that people are willing to share their experiences openly without already an established mentorship.

    Only A Lunch Away From Breakthrough?

    Zhao says himself that he hasn’t been the master of networking himself before Lunchback.

    “I did networking but I kind of failed cause I wasn’t able to find helpful connections so now I’ve actually become a fan of my own product,” says Zhao and admits that after Lunchback’s launch he has built more meaningful business relationships than within the past 10 years.

    “I’ve had in total 60 lunches, half hosting and half attending, and I’ve realised that one can’t just wait for relationships to come and find you – you need to act,” states Zhao and adds that they’re making meeting new people less awkward since you have communicated agenda already for the meeting in a restaurant that the mentor has chosen. Lunchback also creates content for the users to support the preparations of the meet ups.

    The platform is now only available in Sweden, but Zhao says they’re planning to expand next in Finland and then they’ll launch in all the startup cities of Europe. Right now in the platform nearly 50% of the users are in leadership position.

    “We have right now extremely good mentors, and actually through Lunchback every user can be a mentor so we don’t give out any specific mentor hats. The community can decide if you were helpful or not – and recommend you to other users,” says Zhao.