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EatWith Raises $8 Million to Serve a Hunger for Human Connection (Also, Dinner)

EatWith helps people throw dinner parties and invite strangers for a fee.

EatWith

With Lyft and Airbnb, jumping into a stranger’s car or staying overnight at a stranger’s house are becoming less weird than they used to be. What’s next, going over to a stranger’s place for dinner?

That’s the premise of EatWith, which helps people throw dinner parties and invite tourists and locals alike to join for a fee.

The company, which is in the process of relocating to San Francisco from Tel Aviv, now has the endorsement of Greylock Partners via an $8 million Series A round.

EatWith hasn’t yet been wildly successful. In the past year and a half, it has helped host tens of thousands of people for dinner in 160 different cities, according to EatWith CEO Guy Michlin.

And Michlin said the company has yet to face any regulatory scrutiny or pressure from incumbents (in this case, the restaurant industry). These days, those are badges of honor for any disruptor worth its salt.

But already, some hosts — like a retired teacher in Spain who leads guests in cooking and eating paella together — are making “a couple of thousand dollars a month,” said Michlin. And EatWith is extremely picky about selecting hosts who are not only good cooks but also hospitable entertainers. The company accepts only three percent to four percent of people who apply, Michlin said.

Greylock investor Simon Rothman said EatWith appeals to a sort of hunger for human connection.

“Technology makes everything more efficient, but efficiency isn’t effective when it comes to relationships,” Rothman said. “So I’ve been wondering for a while if technology can bring people together.”

Rothman has been to many EatWith dinners around the world, he said, and his takeaway is: “The food matters, but I think it’s the experience of the connection to the place and people that is an event in and of itself.”

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.