Faye Holland, HR Tech World and #disruptHRtech blogger interviews Matthew Murray, Co-Founder of Mystery Lunch, about how an idea discovered by accident is now a HR and Communications start-up.
FAYE: Who is Mystery Lunch and what do you do?
MATTHEW: Mystery Lunch is a HR and Internal Communications start-up which breaks down communication barriers within organisations. We organise face to face 1:1 and group lunches, coffee and digital meetups between the employees of different company departments. The interaction that results from Mystery Lunch enables company wide networking, employee engagement and collaboration. (NB the image associated with this blog article is a representation of a company’s Mystery Lunch network on the individual participant level)
FAYE: I think every company is always toying with the challenge of improving information flow within the organisation – can you tell me how your start-up came about and why you believe it is important to support culture within an organisation?
MATTHEW: The idea of Mystery Lunch was discovered by accident in the o2 canteen in Munich. We all worked in different departments and had regular coffee & lunch chats in a small group or 1:1. We soon realised that we shared lots of important information (understanding, empathy, contacts, hidden truths, documents etc.) between our departments. This lead to real changes in projects, management escalations, etc. We wanted every employee in every company to be able to do this so we started Mystery Lunch.
An organisations culture is its backbone. Culture needs to be supported to enable employees to get things done. While an organisations success or failure can be measured in financial terms, the strength and resilience of an organisations culture will determine how capable it is of continually changing to meet its customers’ demands.
FAYE: One of the big challenges business have is managing the many generations in the workforce. What experiences have you had with Mystery Lunch where this has been broken down?
MATTHEW: Mystery Lunch is completely based on serendipity. We do not ask a participants age but as experience sharing is key to innovation, it still plays a big role for our clients. Mystery Lunch is used by some of our clients to bring together older departments with newer ones, this invariably leads to intergenerational exchanges. A classic Mystery Lunch scenario would be the lunch meetup of a marketing manager and the IT department ‘head of’ with 10 years’ experience in the company.
FAYE: How do you differentiate yourself in the market?
MATTHEW: Our point of differentiation is simple. In an ever more digitally connected world we work to create real connections based on face-to-face interactions between company employees. We have developed diverse algorithms to match the various individual use cases of our clients.
FAYE: How does your technology platform work and how easy is it to integrate?
MATTHEW: Mystery Lunch is provided as a SaaS platform, we provide a customised web front end for our clients, the main communication channel with end users is e-mail. Technical integration does not pose a problem for our clients as we like to keep things as lean as possible, a typical integration including testing takes 2 weeks.
FAYE: What are your plans for expansion?
MATTHEW: We have an established customer base in central Europe which we continue to develop. Our next target market is the UK & Ireland which we will service from our London office. As a cloud based company we can easily role out globally and have conversations ongoing with companies in the US, Thailand, Argentina & Australia.
FAYE: Your founders are spread across Europe, so have you seen differences across Europe in terms of engagement in Mystery Lunch?
MATTHEW: Participation and engagement with Mystery Lunch takes many forms across our client base. There are some national differences, Germans like an early lunch and 1:1 lunches are the norm while in Spain a late and long lunch is the rule with group lunches also preferred. The biggest differences however are between companies and not between countries, we find that a company culture has a bigger impact on people’s behaviour than the country they are in.
FAYE: Why did you decide to take part in disruptHRTech this year and what would you like to achieve as a result of your participation?
MATTHEW: disruptHRTech provides us with the same opportunities afforded to end users of Mystery Lunch everyday, we want to speak with potential customers and explain what we do. Success for us will be two fold, on the one hand we want to spread the idea of what we do and on the other hand we want to begin conversations with those people who will later convert into customers.