Startup Lowdown: Coffee Meets Bagel


SuLo readers, we’re back with a new interview! This week we had the pleasure of interviewing Dawoon Kang, co-founder of Coffee Meets Bagel (“CMB”). Coffee Meets Bagel is a free online dating service that scours members’ social networks to send  one “match” everyday at noon. Members can LIKE or PASS on the match, and if there’s a mutual match, they’re are connected via text message. The big idea can be summed up by CMB’s three guiding principals:

  1. Unless you want to tell others, your dating life should remain private
  2. Your friends are the best conduits for your dates
  3. Meeting quality people doesn’t have to be so awkward or complicated

Since being founded in 2010, CMB has made over 500,000 introductions, and has expanded from New York to Boston and San Francisco. Just last year, Dawoon and her two co-founders (who are also her sisters) raised a $600k funding round led by Lightbank and co-founder Peng T. Ong. With these industry veterans’ backing, CMB hopes to gain a strategic advantage in the competitive online dating world, and keep their momentum going. Keep reading for Dawoon’s inside dish on Coffee Meets Bagel.

StartupLowdown: Coffee Meets Bagel has as pretty unique approach on making matches. Can you talk about a bit about it and how you came up with this concept?

Dawoon: We (My sisters and I) lived in New York after college, we always asked ourselves “where are all the good ones? Why can’t meet them!!” And all our guy and girl friends were asking the same thing. We tried online dating too and it was just so really time consuming and overwhelming so we said OK let’s do something about this.

And we looked at brands in other industries–and Gilt Groupe really stood out. I saw my colleagues logging in at noon everyday and getting so excited about their designer jeans and we thought, why can’t we do the same for dating? So that was the birth of Coffee Meets Bagel.

StartupLowdown: Online dating is a very competitive space, but CMB has grown rapidly and certainly holding its own. I know a number of friends trying other dating sites with mixed results; how would CMB help take their online dating experience to the next level?

Dawoon: Big thing in online dating right now is social. If you think about it dating is a really social experience yet online dating is a very lonely one. We think it’s only a matter of time that online dating seamlessly integrate social elements and we think we can do this with Coffee Meets Bagel.

StartupLowdown: I believe your team raised financing a few months ago to fund expansion in the west coast; how is that coming along?

Dawoon: Great! Folks in SF are early adopters and open to trying new things out so the adoption rate here has been great…at the same time they are very harsh critics as a lot of users are sophisticated so we get tons of great feedback. We also just launched in 3 more cities – Chicago, DC, LA.

StartupLowdown: What’s been the toughest challenge in starting CMB?

Dawoon: Working with my own sisters is one 🙂 Recruiting a great talent is another! We had to find a technical co-founder and you know how challenging that is these days with everyone looking for great engineers. Being able to sell your vision and bring on board A-level team members is challenging but one of the main responsibilities of the founders.

StartupLowdown: Have any fun facts or insights on the dating world you can enlighten us with?

Dawoon: Yes! You can go to our blog to read more about it –! The latest fun data analysis we did is on “Quintessential singles in DC, LA, and Chicago – our 3 newest cities” We did a demographic survey on our members in the three cities and some interesting findings were

– DC was far the most educated city with like 40% of our members having Masters or higher degree! Top 3 jobs were students, law, gov.
– LA was a really Christian/Catholic city…
– Chicago was a good mix – a typical CMB man in Chicago was an Atheist finance professional vs. a typical CMB woman who was a spiritual Marketer…

StartupLowdown: Since everyone enjoys a happy ending, do you have any “awwwww”-inducing stories about a successful match?

Dawoon: Yes! We recently learned of a couple who is getting married via CMB! Given that we just launched a year ago, we were thrilled to learn this! We started CMB with 200 of our friends in NYC and have grown purely thru word of mouth so a lot of our members are friends of friends of friends. When I hear about them meeting their boyfriend/girlfriend through us, it really just makes my day 🙂

StartupLowdown: Dawoon, thanks so much for giving us your time! We wish you, your sisters, and CMB the best going forward!

To find out more about Coffee Meets Bagel, or even sign up, you can visit the links below:

Twitter: @CoffeeMBagel


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