Never Eat Alone: no more solo lunches

What if you were to have lunch with a colleague you didn’t know, either simply out of curiosity or for a change from the usual conversations among your own team? That is something that is easier to say than to do in large companies where we each tend to work on our own without necessarily fully understanding what goes on in the other parts of the business; where sometimes we are reluctant to ask directly for fear of inconveniencing the person.

An app to meet new people

To overcome this issue, in September 2015 Marie Schneegans and Paul Dupuy unveiled their “Never Eat Alone” application, which enables employees to register that they would like to have lunch with someone working in a business area of interest to them. It is about encouraging social bonding and interaction, but it is of benefit to employers as well: Never Eat Alone promotes the exchange of ideas, innovation, cohesion, communication and internal mobility, all factors that are highly valued by HR departments. Companies can promote this application. It has already impressed Danone, Orange, Allianz, Societe Generale, Carrefour and Engie and has a total of some 25,000 users.

A teamwork project is well underway

Following this promising start, Marie Schneegans has suspended her studies at Université Dauphine in Paris, having decided to become a student entrepreneur. She is working under the university's incubator scheme, and has her own workspace and flexible working hours. “What's more, the philanthropic endowment fund Raise, which supports entrepreneurs, is providing coaching to help us develop our project and target HR managers and heads of innovation who are likely to buy our application”, she explains. She is someone who believes in drawing on complementary expertise, both internally and externally, as a means to success. “I have joined forces with Paul Dupuy, who is strong on the technical side, and we have recruited as our head of development a woman twice my age who has a wealth of experience in HR and large groups.”

In terms of a financial partner: “Societe Generale is a client and I am in the process of opening an account with it for my company – it just happened naturally. I want a bank that is quick to respond and that gives me the facility to perform as many transactions as possible online to save time”, explains Schneegans, who works 12 hours a day.  “Even when I’m not in the office, I’m constantly thinking about my company. It’s like a baby that I’m bringing up”.

Freeing the creativity with Openmind Kfé

“Think out of the box", as the saying goes, means that it’s a good idea, whatever business you work in, to get out of the usual routine and think in a wider perspective. To aid this process, Openmind Kfé offers the possibility of doing exactly that to companies taking their employees outside of their usual environment to brainstorm together, share knowledge, build relationships and innovate differently in "co-meeting" areas.