Click the arrow above to listen to the full interview between Alex Abell, founder of Lunchpool, and St. Pete Catalyst publisher Joe Hamilton.
St. Petersburg-based startup Lunchpool spent 2019 spreading its message about the dangers of what it calls the “desktop dining epidemic,” a phenomenon that has more and more young professionals eating alone at their desks. In 2020, the startup is helping Tampa Bay professionals combat that epidemic by starting the year on a better, more connected foot with its Jan. 8 virtual networking event, Break Tampa Bay.
“A more connected world is a more happy, mentally healthy and better world in general,” Lunchpool founder Alex Abell told St. Pete Catalyst publisher Joe Hamilton. He and his partners at Lunchpool cooked up Break Tampa Bay as a catalyst for networking and connection in an increasingly socially-isolated world. He said that Lunchpool has found through their research that many professionals feel as though they’re not good at networking, that they don’t have the time to do it, or that the interactions they do have while networking are superficial or forced.
Break Tampa Bay’s goal is to make networking seamless by breaking down barriers. “We’re breaking down the geographic barriers especially,” said Abell. “It’s an event where you can network with other interesting professionals all over Tampa Bay.”
Instead of crossing bridges or taking valuable time out of the workday for a commute, professionals from all over Tampa Bay, from North Pinellas County to West Hillsborough County can all meet together from the comfort of a desk.
“We at Lunchpool are fighting the “‘desktop dining epidemic,'” said Abell, “but if you’re already a desktop diner, you’re already equipped to get started.”
Participants just have to grab their food, click a link sent to their email by Lunchpool and enter into a virtual video networking hall – a cartoon version of a typical expo or conference. In the center, there will be tables with four seats. Participants can click the table to begin a live video chat with three other area professionals. They’ll also have the chance to navigate different floors, browsing virtual “booths” of local nonprofits, startups and Break Tampa Bay sponsors.
In just two days, Break Tampa Bay had secured 300 registrations. At last count, Abell said registrations were up to 550 for the single day event, something he hopes could turn into a regular occurrence.
Lunchpool has teamed up with sponsors and partners including Synapse, Feeding Tampa Bay, E2 Generations, Tampa Bay Startup Digest, Create Collabs, Mastermind Tampa Bay, Rising Tide Innovation Center, Remo and My Niche is Human podcast.
A virtual seat/ticket to the party costs $5, $10 at the virtual door. To learn more about Break Tampa Bay and to register for the virtual networking event, click here.