Welcome to Week 37 of The 52 Week Love Project – Acts of Kindness. The project designed to recognize 52 inspiring humans who are giving back to our community – whether in a small way or by creating a movement for change and inspiration.
Meet Ben, the creator of SocialTable, a social dining company helping connect strangers over dinner; and fundraising for the Ruhunu Children’s Orphanage. The orphanage located in Southern Sri Lanka Ben was adopted from as a baby.
Ben recently completed building a wing at the orphanage to support newborn babies, increasing the number of beds from 89 to 115 with a focus on newborns from 0-6 months old.
Giving back is very important to him, with all booking fees received from SocialTable being given back to different programs such as OzHarvest, Two Good Co, Twenty10 and most recently to support Meal for Disadvantaged School Children which is run by Ozharvest through the use of SocialTable’s booking tool – Hummanitix.
WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?
SocialTable came out of my need to feel connected with like-minded people. The concept came about because whilst I was living overseas my friends all started having kids and when I got home to Sydney, I literally had nobody to go out with anymore.
So, after trying various dating apps, and meetups, I realised there must be a pretty big gap in the market for those that wanted to make friends. I did a bit of research, and it was evident that I wasn’t the only person who felt the pain.
So, I did an experiment. I had a table of 7 people (from different parts of my life), and organised a dinner. Only, I didn’t show up. They all got on well, and so I knew that people who didn’t necessarily know each other could share a meal. From there, the concept was born. It didn’t take long until we were doing more dinners with more people and people.
We’ve just hit our 1-year mark (12th Jan), and have had 850+ people at over 140 dinners share a meal together.
We’ve been very fortunate that we have an NPS of 65+ (the industry average is 14).
WHAT DO YOU DO?
I’m the CEO and Founder of SocialTable, a social dining platform that allows you to connect with others over dinner.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU?
When I was one and a half years old, I was abandoned at a hospital by my birth mother and was placed in an orphanage.
I was lucky enough to be adopted but still feeling disconnected is where my inspiration come from. The mission is to connect people so that nobody has to eat dinner alone if they don’t want to. Helping people feel like they have options, rather than eating dinner alone is the key to our success.
I’ve been fortunate enough that I was able to help build a new wing on the orphanage I was from, as a way to say Thank You. It was an absolute honour to be able to give back to the people who kept me alive.
I hope that my small gesture will help other children have a safe environment. I was able to increase the bed sizes from 89 to 115, including a brand new baby wing for children 0-6 months.
HOW DO YOU GET PAST SELF DOUBT?
It’s a daily struggle. Doubting that I am not good enough, that I don’t have the skills and that I don’t know what I’m doing. But in all honesty, this is something that everybody feels. Once you get over that, you realise that you can, you will and if your mission is worthy, you must.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS WHO WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE/CHANGE IN THE WORLD?
You only live once, so go out and do it. Don’t let anything stop you from achieving your dreams, and always be sure to say thank you, once you have to the people who have helped you along the way. That small ‘Thanks’ is often all it takes!
DO YOU HAVE A QUOTE OR EXPRESSION THAT YOU LIVE BY?
If at first, you don’t succeed, try and try again.
HOW CAN OTHERS HELP/GET INVOLVED?
Follow us on Socialtable on social media:
Donate directly to one of the charities:
- Meals for disadvantaged school children which is run by OzHarvest https://www.ozharvest.org/
- Ruhunu Children’s Orphanage New Baby Wing Build: https://www.gofundme.com/ruhunuchildrensorphanage-baby-wing