The Kang sisters, Soo, Dawoon and Arum, stunned everyone when they said no to $30 million, walking away from Mark Cuban’s record-setting offer for their dating app on ABC’s “Shark Tank” earlier this year.
“We got so many emails, ‘You sisters are so crazy! What are you thinking?’” Dawoon Kang told “Nightline.” “Seeing all the comments and reviews … I have to wonder, being called ‘greedy,’ ‘gold digger,’ would we have been called those names if we were not women? I had to wonder that.”
“If we were men, we would probably be called ‘Bold! Visionary! Brave’ for rejecting. Of course we weren’t called that,” Arum Kang added, laughing.
But it may very well turn out to be a brave, bold and visionary move because Soo, 35, Dawoon and Arum, both 32, believe their dating app, Coffee Meets Bagel, is worth a whole lot more, especially now that Tinder is valued at $1.5 billion.
Coffee Meets Bagel, which has raised $7.8 million in external funding and has more than doubled its user base since appearing on "Shark Tank" in January, markets itself as an alternative for those fed up with over-sexualized dates the sisters say are on other dating services. Instead it fixes up people up with matches that focus on quality over quantity.
“We like to call ourselves the anti-Tinder,” Arum said. “Any woman who has used tinder has one or many stories of the kinds of behavior men exhibit on Tinder … it’s not the greatest experience and … it feels creepy.”
Coffee Meets Bagel is free and the app delivers one match, or a “Bagel,” by noon each day, according to its website. Users have 24 hours to choose either to “Like” or “Pass” on their Bagel, and if two people “Like” each other, then the app will open a private chat for them to set up a date, which only lasts for seven days. Bagels are determined through a computer algorithm that combs through users’ Facebook friends and “friends of friends,” assessing interests and personal experiences to match users with profiles similar to theirs.
But Coffee Meets Bagels faces competition in a crowded niche dating app market, going up against apps like Tinder, Hinge, Bumble and The League, which are all vying for their piece of the estimated $2 billion online dating industry.
But unlike Tinder, where 58 percent of its users are male according to their statistics, Coffee Meets Bagels boast a majority of female users. The Kang sisters say that’s because their users are looking for love, not necessarily sex.
"Women make up nearly half of Tinder's user base," Tinder said in a statement to ABC News, and "there are millions of 'swiped right' stories that show Tinder is creating meaningful and lasting connections around the world."
Jamie Miller, who just moved to San Francisco from a small town in Ohio, tried Coffee Meets Bagel because she wanted to weed out the weirdos.
“When I first moved here I met a handful of guys but I felt like no one took it seriously,” she said. “Just, ‘Hey nice to meet you… bye…’ and I want something more than that.”
Her first “Bagel” was Zach, a 26-year-old business developer for another start-up, and in talking to each other, they both found out they had athletics in common, he football, and her cross country.
“We have a lot in common,” Miller said. “He has a great personality. I really like him so far. It’s the beginning.”
Whether this Bagel will turn out to be “the one” or not, the Kang sisters are confident that Coffee Meets Bagel has what it takes to revolutionize the dating game.
At their home office in New York City, they have a wall of fame dedicated to some of their early users who ended up marrying their matches. In fact, the sisters say they are now generating about 500 couples per week, with more than 200 marriages and 20,000 relationships as a result of matches through their app.
“At the end of the day we knew we made the right decision,” Dawoon Kang said.