interview | | jason savsani

Picture this: A guy walks up to his hotel front desk in Cambodia and asks: Where do the locals eat?
The reply: Well, in their homes, of course!
The guy asks: Who will have me over for a home-cooked meal?
The hotel clerk pulls about ten people together to see who would play host. A bit of an argument ensues.
An hour later, the intrepid traveler and his friends are taken about 30 minutes outside Siam Reap to dine with Mr. Pon and his wife.
They all have a wonderfully unique cultural experience …and an idea is sparked.

Since his Cambodian experience, Jason Savsani has spent the last two years building a social business for the sharing economy. His goal is to create more connected communities through approachable home cooking. Today is like the Airbnb of home cooked meals. Based in Chicago, Savsani is flipping the dinner party paradigm on its head – with membership quickly growing in Berlin, Sao Paulo and Madrid.

“It’s been a natural progression,” says Savsani when I ask about growth during our Skype call. He feels it’s all happening because it is an extension of the human condition. “We are doing it informally already.”

Indeed. Providing a platform for authentic social gatherings abroad, while also offering a fun way for locals to travel without traveling, is quite a simple twist of genius.

Just like the Airbnb approach, there is a two-way vetting process that allows for easy connection before you break bread with a total stranger. Anyone can host or attend a meal by completing a profile. Mealsharing hosts can accommodate one or many guests at their table, and an optional “chip in” is available to help offset the price of ingredients. A host gift is also suggested. Afterwards, guests and hosts review their experience for trust and safety.

Looking for a vote of confidence?
The main investor is OpenTable’s founder Chuck Templeton. So there’s that.

Best meal so far?
“I’m probably the most well-fed man in the world. On average, I go to two or three dinners and host one every week. A meal that stands out was a dinner I had in the UK. A Londoner named Eloise hosted us on a house boat and made the best Middle Eastern food ever. It was a very special, authentic experience.”

After implementing a successful ThanksSharing initiative over the 2014 holiday season, hosts will continue to be able to raise money for local food banks through the platform.

Listen to Jay’s interview with NPR…

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