Are you looking for ways to meet new people in Stavanger and its region?
Or are you interested in tasting different flavours, tired of going out to the same restaurants all the time or looking for a more personal experience when dining? EatinCommon is a concept of social dining available in the Stavanger region aimed to help you with all issues mentioned above.
My personal experiences with EatinCommon started in May 2014 when, together with my husband, we attended our first EatinCommon event as guests, which was actually hosted by Metteliva, the founder of EatinCommon. We felt immediately that this was something that we could be a part of and decided to host an event ourselves. So far, we have had 4 events at our home, with the biggest one being a Norwegian traditional brunch where we gathered a total of 14 people while we enjoyed a nice meal and got in the Christmas season spirit. As an additional activity, our events have included a board game or a party game at the end which has been a great way to interact with guests and have some fun around the table.
I had the pleasure of interviewing passionate entrepreneur Metteliva Henningsen, who started the concept of EatinCommon some years ago when she moved to Stavanger.
How did the concept behind EatinCommon start?
“At Startup Weekend Stavanger 2013. When I moved to Stavanger I wasn’t sure if I could work here and what kind of work. So I brought my little business idea book and found out that Startup Weekend was also happening in Rogaland. So I joined and EatinCommon quickly got a lot of attention.”
What are your main goals with this new way of socializing?
“I want to challenge the term “stranger” and in general get people to be more friendly towards people they don´t know beforehand. If I can help take away a fraction of the fear or the I-don´t-know-you-so-I-don´t-care-about-you-attitude towards strangers, I would be very proud.”
“Secondly my goal is to make a meaningful business that brings occasions for people to meet, and at the same time create my own work life. I want people to spend more time across each other than standing next to each other like in cinemas, galleries, concerts etc.”
Have you considered other business models that could come from this social platform? Focused on single people, collaborating with dating agencies? Giving hosts the opportunity to sell some additional homemade goodies during the events they host?
“Yes, we have considered both and are working on ways to implement this in an improved business model. But in the beginning we didn’t want to profile the concept too heavily towards singles, because we also want to include couples, “new-in-towns”, students etc. If someone wants to do a singles dinner, that is fine with us. In the future you will probably see EatinCommon facilitate singles dinners along with kids dinners too.”
I personally arrived to the first event together with my husband, and was a bit anxious about what we were about to experience. We were glad to find one couple and one single person also attending the event which in this case was hosted by Metteliva herself. What struck me first was that this kind of event at home made it a very relaxed atmosphere. We were all just sharing our storiesand having a nice time conversing and sharing our experiences as expats.
There are many other people who might be a bit anxious about trying this concept. What is your advice for them?
“Take it as an experience, and set your expectations low. If you don’t expect much, you always get pleasantly surprised. Also, people shouldn’´t be anxious of being the only one coming alone. The group of guests usually have both singles, couples and friends. It makes a good mix and no-one is ever left outside of conversations, because people are naturally curious about everyone. I also think that going by yourself can be a valuable experience. Something you do for yourself.”
When I have explained or promoted the concept to friends and colleagues I notice that there are some that feel more comfortable if they can bring someone along with them.
Can guests invite a friend, partner or kids along to an event?
“Yes. We have a brand new functionality on the site, that allows guests to bring a partner, friend and sometimes – if the host allow it – guests can bring several friends or relatives.”
How do people make friends, before during and after the event?
“We have a “EatinCommon hosts and guest connect” – group on Facebook, where hosts and guests can connect and share info, experiences etc. Users can also add LinkedIin, Twitter and/or Facebook to their profile to show how they wish to stay connected.”
As a South American, I think that socializing might be part of my DNA. I personally believe that the concept of food is a way for social networking that works across all ages and cultures. It is so wonderful to experience how we through food can connect people in a common experience: eating.
Photo credit: Luigi Anzivino