Our Story

In 2009, several West Philadelphia friends moved into homes within a few blocks of each other. At the time, someone suggested that they should take advantage of their proximity by taking turns cooking meals.

“We could have a home cooked hot meal three times a week and each would only have to cook once,” someone said. “That might have worked when we were younger,” another replied, “but our current lives have too many responsibilities. It would be a chore, and our schedules can be unpredictable”.

It seemed that the idea was pie in the sky (or in this case dinner in the sky) until one delicious-meal evening one of them came up with an idea. He told his friends about the brainchild, and shortly thereafter, the plan was hatched. Four months later, eight households had shared over 50 meals together.

What a great feeling it was to be able to sit down with friends so often over dinner. Discovering new recipes, being able to get together on short notice, and furthering the development of lasting relationships with friends. The idea was a huge success.

They began thinking about sharing their idea with others and realized that with a little bit of hard work and a lot of ingenuity, they could make the idea available to groups of friends all over the world. And so Shared Meals LLC was born and MealShare.org was released to the public. Using the same system that helped a group of friends go from “that would be great but hard to do” to “I can’t believe how often we eat together,” MealShare provides an online application so that anyone can orchestrate dinners together with friends.

Shared Meals LLC is proud to be based in the city of brotherly love.

To learn more about MealShare, see how it works.

We are pleased to announce that as of today, all of the core functionality for potlucks is now on the production server. As we finish that milestone, we turn to another one that we have been planning for a while now. Soon we will begin rolling out ‘advanced potlucks’, which will give hosts even more options to ensure the event is successful.

When you host a normal potluck, you pick out a name or theme and decide what to bring, but each attendee can ultimately bring what they wish. With advanced potlucks, however, the host can pick out specific items and quantities that need to be brought, and as people RSVP to attend, they will be able to select which items they will bring.

Look for this feature to debut in the coming weeks.

Newcomers to MealShare can now see what the site looks like without having to sign up first.  We’ve recently put together this page, which demonstrates some of the features of the site.

The page is also capable of recognizing if the viewer has been invited to join a MealShare circle.  If that is the case, some of the information on the page will change to reflect the circle the viewer has been invited to join.  We hope this makes the site even more inviting to those you want to join.

Yesterday, MealShare was the top entry for reddit.com/r/food.  With that exposure, hundreds of circles were formed in over 30 countries on 6 continents.  Along the way, we began getting some great feedback from users about ways to improve the site’s navigation.  Primary among those suggestions was how many steps are required to get one’s friends to join.

This morning we finished a little modification that will improve the overall experience.  For anyone that has created a circle, we’ve updated the invitation page to provide a URL that you can tweet, post on your facebook wall, or share in any manner you wish to get the invitations out to your friends so they can join your circle.

In addition, for users who have not joined MealShare, that invitation URL provides a smoother process to take you from invitee to a part of your friend’s circle.  More updates coming later this morning!

I consider myself to have a penchant for the application of technology.  Although I never officially took a computer science or engineering class, I always enjoyed spending time learning about the fields.  While reading about new discoveries in trade publications for the scientific community or just catching up with new technological breakthroughs at Slashdot, I was fascinated with the impacts each of these new ideas would bring to our lives.  Technology was a hobby for me.  When I found myself understanding and laughing at the XKCD jokes, I began to realize how much of a tech geek I was.

But technology never defined me.  My casual dabbling in the field was often theoretical and only on occasion would it spill into my career.  There was my college thesis while getting a degree in city planning.  My undergraduate capstone looked at how emerging technology could impact how people are engaged with their local government.  Then there were my forays into breaking developments in the open-source community and how these new ideas could improve the efficiency of the planning department where I worked.  I pitched a few ideas to my boss here and there, and we managed to improve productivity as a result.  In these cases, I saw how I fit into this modern world.  I knew that I could act as a conduit between technology and how we use it in practical ways.

Unfortunately for me, I was born too late to participate effectively in the first internet boom.  But that did not mean all the ideas had been taken.  When applying for graduate school,  I penned essays that spoke about an idea still unfolding within the depths of my mind.  Expanding upon my planning thesis, I had a new idea to harness growing trends within interactive web sites to engage and empower people in civics (my masters degree was in government administration).  I wanted to interact with the comp sci students and brainstorm ways of making the “facebook for government policy”, so to speak.

I have had several solid business ideas over the years.  Each idea has always been outside of my reach.  Whether a certain skill set is needed that I could not learn before a window of opportunity closes, or a networking connection I could not make, I was always left watching my business idea materialize in the hands of another entrepreneur.

For the first time, an idea was conceived with all the tools in place.  The human capital was all around me, and I was in an opportunity to make something happen.  Necessity is the mother of invention, and in this case it was no different.  Friends in our community were looking for a way to make get together more often.  A deliberate effort but sans headaches.  When our method was tried out and it worked beyond our expectations, we realized we had an idea.

We needed to make it scalable.  We needed to make it big.  It was one thing to improve our own community, but if we could improve the lives of anyone that wanted to use our site, then we would be on to something.

Perhaps the biggest reason I am excited about this venture is the potential for the impact it can have on lives all over the world.  I think about the implications I have seen in other technological breakthroughs and I see similar potential with this site.  And so everything we have done has been towards making the site – and our own personal experience – available to anyone that wants to try it.  We have made it scalable.  And it’s big enough for you and your friends.

The blog has been set up!  Work is currently underway behind the scenes.  Details to follow.

Meanwhile, just enjoy today.  Be sure to bookmark this page and come back later.