Today around midday, Ron DuPlain (Twitter: @rduplain) asked me if I wanted to catch lunch with him and Michael Davis (Twitter: @yellowfish_md). Only thing is, I don’t know Michael Davis. Don’t worry, Ron said, he’s a cool and interesting guy and you’ll probably find out you have a lot of business and professional interests in common. Ron is a great conversationalist so I knew I would be safe – if I had nothing to say, he’d cover for me! So I tagged along.
Turns out I had a great time – Michael is indeed an interesting guy, and shared stories about his business, Yellowfish and his pursuit of a mobile lifestyle while homeschooling 3 kids – something I decided to call the “Urban Amish” way of life after I found out more about it. (Oh, and the secret codes on wine labels that can serve as quality measures.) Just listening to his perspective on things, and his ideas over lunch, I was able to get some different ideas about stuff I was working on at work.
And that’s when I got the Million Dollar Idea. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a “business dating service” for technical people? You could sign up, take the eHarmony-like survey, and every so often (as often as you said you’d like to, on your questionnaire) go out to lunch with 1, 2 or 3 randomly chosen technical people in your area with similar interests. As part of your mutual interview, you could figure out if you shared philosophies, or approaches to problem solving, or interests. It would be like Twitter, only in person, and only for an occasional lunch. If you find out you are “professionally compatible” you could choose to do business together, or refer your new contacts to people who need their services. This might also be a boon for job-seekers in a down economy.
And it doesn’t have to stop there – if you ran this kind of company, whose role was to form connections between people and set up lunch dates – you could also get sponsorships from lunch places. They might be able to give you coupons for a free coffee or appetizer with your lunch, just to bring in business. Or maybe they’d have other ideas for helping you bring more people into their lunch venues.
I’m not likely to work on this business idea myself anytime soon, but I would definitely be a customer if there was a service like this. There may actually be services like this already, but there are none here in Central Virginia that I’m aware of. However, I would be glad to support anyone who wants to start up this kind of business. (If you read this idea and end up starting a service, let me know! It would be nice to know the idea actually went somewhere.)