Asking attendees to choose who goes on-stage at conferences isn’t a new idea — the online panel picker for the South by Southwest Interactive conference is probably the best-known example in the tech world. But the Founder Conference is taking a new approach using a startup called LetsLunch.
The partnership is, perhaps, an obvious one, since both Foundrs.com (the founder matching service that organizes the Founder Conference) and LetsLunch were co-founded by Alain Raynaud. Still, it’s a cool idea that other events might want to borrow.
LetsLunch launched earlier this year with the goal of helping its users grow their professional network by meeting the right person for lunch. After the meal, each participant rates their lunch partner on a number of factors, then the site uses those ratings to provide future recommendations.
The Founder Conference, which is scheduled for May 3, is repurposing that technology for a slightly different aim. Here’s how Raynaud describes the process:
This year, we are crowdsourcing the selection of presenters. We know what doesn’t work: everyone applies to the organizer, the organizer is swamped with requests, and can’t tell who to pick.
Instead, we’ll use LetsLunch.com to let entrepreneurs self-select other entrepreneurs. It goes like this: You meet other entrepreneurs equally interested in pitching. You chat with them over lunch. It’s very casual. You learn about their startup and their plans. Then you provide feedback on the site. Repeat a few times. You’ll be surprised how quickly the top 10 founders will emerge with such a process.
You can can find more information at the Founder Conference website.
Raynaud also shared some data about how LetsLunch is doing. The site has now scheduled 500 lunches and has more than 1,000 users. There are another 1,000 people on the waiting list. The service is limited to Silicon Valley right now, but Raynaud plans to expand to New York in April. And LetsLunch is planning to raise a $500,000 seed round through the AngelList service.