Lunch is important. So very, very important. To me, lunch is the part of the day that I look forward to the most, because it marks the halfway point in my workday. ‘Another couple of hours, and I’m knocking off’, as they say. In fact, my lunchbox that I carry to work loudly proclaims “I LOVE LUNCH” on the cover. Lunch is also the time where I get to just shoot the breeze for an hour, either with friends or colleagues. I understand the role of food in human culture. We socialise over food more often than through other activities. Not everyone likes to play a sport, but everyone eats. That is why new-app-on-the-block Lunch Kaki co-founder Melvin is a man after my own heart. Vulcan Post caught up with Melvin to talk about this awesome app.
Doesn’t ‘kaki’ mean ‘leg’?
Well, it’s also used locally to mean ‘buddy’. Lunch Kaki is a social networking app that focuses on getting people to get out there and socialise during lunch time. We named it Lunch Kaki as we feel that lunch time is a perfect time for casual meet-ups and does away with the higher commitment associated with dinner. You can use Lunch Kaki to meet new people for job opportunities, find a last-minute lunch companion, or make new friends. Of course, Lunch Kaki is not restricted strictly to lunch requests.
The birth of Lunch Kaki
The planets were in perfect alignment. No, really. My wife was casually telling me how she would just do take-aways or find some quiet corner to rest if she has no lunch kakis. At the same time, I was going through a very rough patch in life and was arranging lunches with friends within my social network to touch base and explore job opportunities. We looked at each other and BINGO, the idea of Send a Lunch Request was born! It was so simple and original. I was so excited that day that I couldn’t sleep. I went to pitch the idea to my co-founder CC Huang who is based in Taiwan. I got the Lunch Kaki project kickstarted within a week.
The more, the merrier.
The app works by geo-location so you have to enable your location settings on your smartphone before you can use it. This is important! After which you can search through the profiles and just send a lunch request! As simple as that.
There are no restrictions in organising group lunches. When the other party accepts your lunch request, you can ask he/her to bring his/her colleagues along and your side, you bring yours too. You know how colleagues always eat together in groups.
All about the brains.
I used to work in a bank-backed brokerage firm as an execution trader serving institutional clients for almost 8 years. That was my passion then and it was my first job after I came back from my studies from Brisbane in 2005. I was really into equities and the whole trading action back then. And yes I went through the Lehman crises, it was really a nightmare. Clients were all doing panic selling and the phones kept ringing. We had to do multiple sell orders with no algorithm trading! No joke.
CC Huang is my good friend from secondary school, my soulmate, and my best partner. We’ve been through thick and thin with the rest of our gang from secondary school – 20 years of friendship! He is now based in Taiwan. He is rather under-the-radar, as we say, and likes to keep things simple. Let’s just say he is a High Net Worth Individual.
What do you hope for people to achieve via LunchKaki?
I hope that Lunch Kaki can change the scene of social networking and people can open up their mindsets to have lunches with new friends. Lunch is really casual; it’s an everyday affair, and lasts only about an hour for most working professionals. No such thing as requisite after-dinner drinks with boring blind dates!
Forget ISO and F2F, here’s FFL.
FFL stands for “Free For Lunch”. This is an interesting function where user sets a future date and time he/she is free and the gender he/she prefers to have lunch with. A chat box between the 2 users will automatically appear if the fields are matched for users to start lunch arrangements. We included this feature as people would know when they will be free in advance for lunch. So to add a little zest and buzz to their otherwise potentially boring work day, they can switch on the FFL function. We call it a random game of fate!
LKOTM stands for “Lunch Kaki of the Month”. This feature is currently available in Singapore only. Lunch Kaki of the Month are individuals who are good in their own fields – be it work or interests or simply with great personalities for users to be friends with. Lunch Kaki users will get a chance to schedule lunch and interact with them over lunch.
How do I get to be LKOTM? Will I get an award?
Interested ones can send an email to us if they want to be featured as Lunch Kaki of the Month. Basically, they should be individuals who are willing and keen to pass on their knowledge and insights such that our lunch kaki users can benefit from when they would otherwise not have the chance to meet them in person. It is not a lunch date set up with LKOTM. We have a good line-up of LKOTMs, some whom are well-known industry professionals in their fields. This is particularly useful for a fresh grad, or somebody who wants to join a particular industry.
The reward for LKOTM is, he/she is able to share and pass down life experiences/ knowledge to people and this is really a great feeling. The feeling of helping people is the biggest reward for the featured LKOTM. Isn’t it great?
I would like to emphasise that Lunch Kaki is a social networking app and dating is just one of possibilities in it. In fact I think people could be better off using the other dating apps out there if their only objective is dating. But that does not mean that one can’t find dates using Lunch Kakis as everything must start from somewhere. Start off first as lunch kakis, casual friends and take things from there.
Our users consist of a wide range of working professionals and they can be either single, attached or married. We just want people to share their joy, experience, bad day etc over lunch. Or meeting of like-minded people with common interests. Or just simply widening of their social network. We focus on lunch time because working professionals are usually very busy. But everybody has to eat lunch right? It is the “Golden Period”.
Does food play a big part in your upbringing or background?
Yes! My wife is a food lover and likes to explore new restaurants and cafes. But if I am alone, I will just eat at hawker centres and food courts. You know, guys are always very simple. We have been through National Service and food to most of us is just another meal. But that does not mean I don’t enjoy or appreciate good food. I do! I love foie gras and scallops! These are my all time favourites. And, of course, having drinks with my good buddies.
Avoiding odd cookies.
Yes, there will be weirdos and odd cookies. Lunch Kaki facilitates lunches among working professionals for them to network and people working in the same area usually have something in common. We encourage users to use genuine profiles and put up their display pictures so that people can have a “peep” into who they might be having lunch with. Secondly, they can use the Block function to block out weirdos if any. Thirdly, as it’s lunch, the meet-ups take place during the day and in crowded working areas. Of course, ultimately Lunch Kakis have to use their own common sense and discretion. If there is reported abuse/feedback, we will utilise our right to block or delete the alleged user’s account. Users can be only contacted via the chat using the account with no contact numbers exchanged. Last but not least, Lunch Kaki hopes everybody can find their lunch kakis in a fun and safe environment!
In the future, Lunch Kaki will…
Our next plan is to do localisation and launch various languages in Stage 2. We definitely want to target European countries, and more Asian countries such as China, Korea and Taiwan. Meanwhile, we are continuously improving the app. Nowadays people see WhatsApp as the benchmark for chat apps. If your app is not as fast, people think its not good enough. WhatsApp is a billion dollar company with unlimited resources. Lunch Kaki is currently a small local startup bootstrapping our way. We do hope to build up our team in the near future and bring out the best user experience in Lunch Kaki.
All images courtesy of Lunch Kaki.