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Made for Knoxville: Lunchpool makes virtual workflow interesting

Lunchpool's founder Alex Abell is a big believer in lunch breaks and community. When COVID hit, his business model made the virtual workplace and events a fun space.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A local "lunch break advocate" created an interactive, virtual meeting platform to foster real connections. It exploded in Knoxville. 

Lunchpool is helping workplaces move into the future.

Alex Abell dreamed up the idea for Lunchpool after seeing how much fun he had on his lunch breaks with other people. He's a strong believer in stepping away from your desk to enjoy a break.

About three years ago, the LunchPool app started as a sort of social media platform for people to meet up and collaborate on their lunch breaks.

"I had this idea said what if we had a social network where you can meet more people and expand your lunch pool," Abell said. "So we started building that and the premise was to get people away from the desk, in-person meeting, face to face building new connections in the workplace."

Then, in 2020, COVID stepped in and caused the company to pivot to a different business model. It started off helping nonprofits host virtual events and expanded into creating virtual workplaces and offices.

The options are endless with the program. Employees and attendees can log on, watch speakers, jump from table to table like in a real event space and participate in virtual activities.

"We found a cool platform that has tables in the browser, you can hop around from video to video. And we were able to popularize that," Abell said. "We've done over 500 events since March of last year."

The platform is called Remo. It allows you to hop around and chat over video with small groups of 4-8 people at a time. Abell said Lunchpool is building strong partnerships with all the new immersive video-based platforms popping up like SpatialChat, Cosmos and Spot.

Abell said Knoxville really embraced the idea because it's a place for makers.

The Knoxville Entrepreneur Center agrees. It even highlighted Abell through its "Made for Knoxville" campaign.

"We were born in Florida, made in Knoxville, so the made for Knoxville campaign, it's the Maker City and you know, you can come here to make things and to make people happy," Abell said.

There is a new feature available where offices and events can get food and drinks delivered in real life during the virtual immersion. Abell also hinted at working on a virtual Market Square to be unveiled soon.

Abell said he wants to see every business and startup in Knoxville have a virtual workspace or host a virtual event using Lunchpool. He believes this creative form of virtual meetings is the future, especially when more employees are working from home.

You can find out more info or get a quote at lunchpool.io.