Launched this week, SupperKing aims to be the leading mobile app that allows foodies to open up their next home-cooked meal or dinner party to the general public.
Hosts can post information about the meal they are serving, and users can search for different “tables” by “Neighborhood,” “Cuisine,” “Attire,” “Date,” and “Price.” So far most events are taking place in San Francisco and Los Angeles. For example, “Strange Meat Sunday” is coming up on Dec. 16 in San Francisco. Host Melissa Scheiderer, the creator of an eco-friendly candy company, plans to serve reindeer meat with sautéed kale and homemade egg nog, and guests will get to help decorate her Christmas tree. A seat costs $10, and the dress code is casual, according to the event description. Soon users will be able to post live updates and upload pictures from each event.
SupperKing CEO Kai Stubbe, originally from Germany, has lived in Australia, Chile, Beijing, and says he started the app because it is hard to make friends when you move to a new place.
“If you go to a restaurant and just walk over and say ‘hi,’ it’s difficult,” says Stubbe. “I was always looking to sit at a table in someone’s home and get insight and news about a city. The main goal of the app is to bring people together, and it’s much easier to meet people over food and drinks.”
He is marketing SupperKing to food bloggers, but he also believes the app could be a useful way for charities to expand their reach and find new donors. He says the Creative Visions Foundation in Malibu, California, is organizing a dinner through SupperKing, in which the price to attend will be a charitable donation. SupperKing will make a profit by taking a portion of each event transaction.
Essentially, the app wants to be the food version of social travel sites like Couchsurfing and Airbnb, in which travelers can find an authentic experience in a new place by staying at a local’s house—and hopefully make new friends, too.
Founded in 2004, Couchsurfing, which claims to be the world’s largest social travel network site, is made up of an online community of volunteers who literally offer their couch or spare bedroom for free to travelers on tight budgets. “Couchsurfers” do not have to pay for their stay, but they are encouraged to bring their guests some token of appreciation, and the site makes money by charging users $25 to verify their real identities.
SupperKing is also inspired by Airbnb, an upscale version of Couchsurfing where people generally rent out homes that they are not using to make some extra money; currently, for $135 a night, you can crash at an apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side or curl up inside a historic beer barrel in Germany.
But letting strangers into your house still poses risks. In July 2011, an Airbnb host blogged about a nightmarish experience with a visitor who wrecked the entire home and stole personal property, prompting Airbnb to announce a $50,000 insurance policy.
Likewise, one of SupperKing’s Frequently Asked Questions is “What if a diner gets food poisoning?” To forewarn fellow diners, the site says it encourages users to write a review about their experience. Regarding safety in general, Stubbe maintains that it is easier to keep tabs on guests while hosting a dinner, as opposed Airbnb, which allows guests to stay in your home when you are not there: “Before I have a stranger sleeping in my bed, I would prefer to have someone at my table, where I’m at my place, and I can take care that everything is going alright.”
The app is available in Apple’s App Store, and SupperKing hopes to launch a website version of the app so that people who do not have an iPhone can organize meals.