Startup in Residence Northern Netherlands: sharing a meal with Nibblr

Nothing brings people together like good food. That’s why Startup in Residence participant Nibblr is helping Campus Groningen roll out the red carpet and make people feel right at home on campus. Co-founder Yannick Kampschoer talks about the upcoming pilot, the challenges of a pandemic and future international plans.

Nibblr​ is a social dining application that connects you with all food lovers around you. Founded by Luca Dinh and Yannick Kampschoer in 2017, with the philosophy that food is a wonderful excuse to get together and share stories. That’s why they developed a social dining marketplace that gives people the opportunity to host and attend dinners in their area or city and make new friends in the process. You can invite people to join your dinner table, or you and your friends can go out to another dinner party just a few blocks away.

Dinner with friends

The idea behind the platform was born during dinner with friends. “A friend of mine was talking about wanting to some day open his own restaurant for students and we were discussing cool ideas, like these long tables you have in student mensas, where you could meet new people over dinner”, Yannick explains. “And you wouldn’t be able to make a reservation, you would check in with a personal profile through the website or an app and see the other profiles of people who’ve checked in.” 

The eureka moment came to Yannick on the way home: “I thought, if you have an app, why would you need the restaurant? People eat every day and everywhere, so all you would need to know is a time and a place. I also thought it would be a lot easier and faster to develop an app than start a restaurant, but looking back, I was very wrong, haha! But fast forward to a few years later, here we are with around 15,000 users and a few hundred dinners hosted every month.” 

A silver lining after a tough year

Social dining doesn’t mix well with social distancing, so it’s no surprise 2020 was a very tough year for the startup. “Everything basically came to a standstill and the momentum we built up with years of hard work was gone almost overnight”, Yannick says. “So yeah, we were really struggling, and we decided to use last year to set up collaborations with big organizations. But as a startup, it’s difficult to get a foot in the door, let alone find the right person within the organization to talk to and you get stuck in this back and forth between different departments. So Startup in Residence was a great opportunity for us in that sense.”

Working together with Campus Groningen is going really well, according Yannick: “There’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm and they’re actively helping us with involving all of the campus organizations. It feels like a real partnership and they’re opening a lot of doors for us.”

Gearing up for the pilot

Even though the pilot will officially kick off with the new semester this September, Nibblr is working hard behind the scenes to set everything up. “The thing is, you’re building a community that grows and sustains itself, so that takes planning. We’re working on involving all of the different campus organizations and also businesses, so we can launch a big campaign when the semester starts. We’re focusing on first year students and internationals, with meetings around the campus first, but the plan is to include the rest of the city later on”, Yannick explains. 

International ambitions

After a slow year, Nibblr is gaining some serious momentum again. “Being part of the Startup in Residence program has certainly helped, because I think it gives you a little bit more legitimacy as a startup, since you’re already working with a big organization”, Yannick explains. “A year ago, we were pitching something that was mostly conceptual, but now we can show big organizations a detailed outline of all the steps, which really helps.”

“So we’re currently in talks with a lot of other universities too”, Yannick continues. “Not just in the Netherlands, but all over Europe. We’re going to roll out our platform for the universities in Bratislava, Slovakia and Budapest in Hungary. We’re part of EIT Digital, which is a sort of European startup accelerator. We met up with one of the directors of the program and he was really enthusiastic about our idea, so he’s currently introducing us to different European universities and other organizations, so that’s also opening up some big doors for us, which is incredibly awesome.”