New Service Helping to Combat Epidemic of Loneliness


The U.S. Surgeon General has warned that Americans are facing an “epidemic of loneliness and isolation,” due to lack of in-person social connection. Technology has certainly played a role in creating this isolation. But one new startup is looking to flip the script, using technology to help people create more real world connections.

Mesh is a free service that matches participants with potential friends for real life meetups. The business is based in Madison, Wisconsin. So it’s currently only available to those in the area.

The experience starts with a quick online survey that asks about each participant’s personal attributes, such as how creative or outgoing they are. Then, Mesh sends out a text to participants each Wednesday asking if they’re interested in a coffee meetup on Saturday. Once the responses are in, an algorithm separates the “yes” responses into groups of four. Then, those who get matched are given a coffee shop to meet that week. Participants don’t talk or interact with the people they’re meeting up with beforehand – they just receive photos right before the meetup to improve safety and help users find one another.

Michael Orosz-Fagen originally thought of the idea for Mesh back in 2021 when he was a student at Saint Louis University. After noticing how many other students ate alone at the dining hall, he thought it would be nice if there was something that helped connect people over a meal. Years later, Orosz-Fagen connected with another student named Stuart Ray at a college mixer, and he helped create the technology to realize the original vision.

Orosz-Fagen told The Cap Times, “I just want people to be able to talk with each other, have fun, get to know each other. There’s so many amazing people out there.”

It’s this simple idea that sets Mesh apart from other technology aimed at creating social connections. Instead of creating complex threads and posting formats like social media platforms, Mesh simply connects people and gives them a way to easily meet in person. It may not provide as many revenue opportunities as social media, but it certainly solves a problem that many individuals face. And that’s how many successful small businesses get started.

Image: Envato

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.