Business networking is taking centre stage

lunch copy

Our Correspondent / Emirates Business

Aiman Kabli is CEO and founder of Lunchmatcher, a professional networking app. Prior to this Kabli has been a seasoned global HR professional with over 12 years’ experience in international staffing and human resource management. He holds an MBA in strategic management from the University of North Texas, and has recruited for large multinationals in over 30 countries. As a key note speaker, Kabli has been a thought leader in driving best practices related to HR and Staffing.
He has worked with such notable organizations as Unilever, the International Monetary Fund, and Emirates Airline. Currently, he is a serial entrepreneur, investor, and travel-blogger. His portfolio of startups includes an innovative recruitment platform, an online entrepreneurship community, various creative media projects and social mobile apps. Emirates Business spoke to Aiman Kabli and finds out more about the app.

Excerpts from the conversation

How did your stint as a Tech entrepreneur start? When and how did your journey start?
Since moving to Dubai, I have been fascinated by the local startup ecosystem, and in late 2013 I decided to leave the corporate ranks to become a full-time entrepreneur. I got involved with LunchMatcher as well as other tech startup projects which had caught my attention.

UAE is a competitive market. How did LunchMatcher make a mark in this industry?
The UAE market is competitive indeed, though so far nothing directly competes with the LunchMatcher concept. It is a modern spin on business networking, utilizing locational technologies which capitalizing on the UAE’s business cluster areas where many people work in close proximity and eateries are abound nearby.

What is your business mantra?
Our slogan for LunchMatcher is “Matching Professionals for Lunch at Local Venues Every Day”.
Basically our aim is to facilitate networking and connection between professionals in office/business districts, to create more fruitful interactions between them.

How does LunchMatcher function?
Users simply connect using LinkedIn, set a few preferences, and the app will provide them a daily match with a new person based on common location and time availability. Users have a time limit to accept each match, and there is a point scoring and rating system designed to maintain a great user experience and motivate continual good use of the app.

How do you see LunchMatcher contributing to business networking in the next few years?
In this period, business networking is taking center stage as people strive to find more clients, partnerships and career connections amid tougher global economic conditions. Conference and networking events play an important role in this, though they are rather sparse and people cannot be available to attend all of them – thus they are discovering the value of daily networking in a convenient setting, where nearly everyone has time available for lunch nearby their office area.

Share some important developments/facts related to the app.
The app has been released on both Android and iPhone platforms since late last year, and is being constantly improved/upgraded based on early user feedback. More excited features are in the works such as expanded timings, targeted notifications, integration with other common technology platforms and adding more features/filters.

How do you see the future of mobile apps in the region?
Mobile apps are growing explosively as device penetration increases and data plans become more accessible and affordable. We have no doubt that mobile is the way of the future and all new innovative platforms must exist on mobile!

What are your future plans? Any piece of advice you would like to give to the new tech startups?
I am always looking out for relevant opportunities to get involved with new startups and assist them in any way. My biggest advice is to allow for more time, budget, and iterations then you think is needed, because things aren’t as easy as they seem in starting up a new tech business so entrepreneurs must have plenty of patience and tenacity.

What is the investment incurred in creating and launching the app?
So far my partner and I have self-invested in this app, and are considering taking on external investment if attractive deal is presented to us. We have no qualms about continuing to boot-strap the project, however, as this market is quite lucrative and we are confident of the prospective returns!

Is this app free? If yes, what is your revenue plan?
The app is free to download and use for the most part — it has a freemium model where users can pay a small amount to access special features and use the app in their own way. Another one of our revenue plans involves forming special partnerships with venues who may wish to be featured in our app in certain ways.

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