As posted on TechCrunch
LetsLunch continues to spread its vision of professional networking through lunches — it just launched in the United Kingdom. Tied to its UK launch, the startup says it’s also releasing version 3.0 of the service.
Now, I usually spend my lunches frantically cramming down food while writing posts or doing briefings, but if yours are a little less hectic, you might want to use LetsLunch to get some networking mileage out of those lunch breaks. (And I’m sure some of you think that’s a terrifying idea, but hey, it’s not for everyone.) The startup, which came out of the Founders Institute, basically facilitates that process by serving as a professional matchmaking service.
When you sign up for LetsLunch, you create a social profile, enter your interests, and identify when you’d like to have networking lunches. Then the site will match you up with other users, and you’ll get an email asking you to confirm the meal and choose the restaurant. You can also browse other users’ profiles and invite them to lunch. After the Lunch, you’re asked to answer questions about the experience, so that the site can further refine its matches.
As for version 3.0, founder and CEO Syed Shuttari let me play with a test version of the revamped site. The most interesting new feature is probably the ability to become a “sponsored luncher” — basically, you’re paying to be featured in the upper right corner of the site, in the hopes that more people will have lunch with you. Other additions include a smart widget for job recruiters, the ability to invite friends from Facebook and other social networks, revamped navigation, and “smart group lunches.”
Interested folks in the UK can sign up for LetsLunch by going to the site and selecting the UK flag, or you can just follow this link. You can see a list of the participating UK VIPs here. Oh, and there’s a party in London on Saturday night to celebrate the launch. We’ve got some free tickets for TechCrunch readers here.