Shark Tank contestants Arum, Dawoon and Soo Kang turn down $30 million offer from Mark Cuban to buy their under three-year-old online dating company

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On a recent episode of “Shark Tank,” three sisters shocked the world by declining a $30 million offer from Mark Cuban to buy their under three-year-old online dating company Coffee Meets Bagel. They did it without even flinching.

The company’s founders, Arum, Dawoon and Soo Kang came into the tank asking $500,000 for 5% of their company, valuing it at $10 million.

Here’s how their company works: After signing up via Facebook, their service begins privately matching you up with mutual friends. At 12 p.m. every day, you get an email with a potential match. You then have 24 hours to choose whether to “like” or “pass” on the person. If you and the other party likes each other, you can talk via text through private messages for up to seven days before you’ll need to exchange personal information to proceed.

In the episode, Dawoon explained the appeal of Coffee Meets Bagel:

“Single women are tired of signing up for dating websites only to get hit on by creepy strangers bombarding them with disgusting messages.”

The core service is free, but the company makes money by offering additional services users can unlock using “coffee beans,” their virtual currency.

In the episode, the girls declined to give out their exact user-based numbers, which agitated Cuban and caused him to immediately drop out of bidding. He surprised everyone, however, by reentering at the end and offering $30 million to buy their company. Perhaps more surprisingly, the girls turned it down.

Their reasoning for refusing the offer, according to Dawoon:

“We see this business growing as a big as Match.com. They’re becoming a billion-dollar-revenue company, and we think this model and the product has potential to be as big as Match.”

By the end of the episode, all the Sharks went out and the girls left empty-handed.

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dawoon Kang, one of the co-founders of Coffee Meets Bagel. Here we discuss what it’s like doing business with family members, the difference between pitching the Sharks and other VCs, and, of course, what it’s like turning down $30 million.

How much influence did your parents have on your entrepreneurial ventures?

A ton! My dad is an entrepreneur himself. He actually started his own business with his brother. So it’s very similar to the steps they’re following. Growing up, we watched him putting so much passion and effort into his business, which is in a commodity space back in Korea. It was very inspiring to see that growing up. So we knew from very early on that we wanted to follow his footsteps and create something out of nothing. When that time came, we decided to take the punch in the entrepreneurial space, and he was always very, very supportive. Typically for parents, when they see their kids quitting their high-paying jobs and trying to do something risky, it’s not something that every parent would approve or support. But my dad was very supportive of our decision even though he knew it was risky. He told us, “This is something you should try and you should just go for it.” Having his support on our decision meant a lot to us.

As sisters, do you guys ever fight or have disagreements over company matters?

Oh yeah, we fight all the time! [laughs] In fact, one of the concerns my dad raised when we told him that we were going to start a business together was that we fight too much. I think siblings fight a lot, but particularly the three of us have always argued about a lot of different things — relatively a little bit more than other siblings, so that was one of his concerns. We are kind of worried about that also, but I think we have put in a lot of effort to professionalize our relationship, especially at work when it involves our employees and work-related matters. I went to Stanford Business School and I had a leadership coach who was very amazing, and I actually brought her in for a few sessions to coach us on how we give feedback to each other and how we resolve conflicts in a constructive manner. So to work on some of the skills, I think we’ve gotten a lot better at it.

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You and your sisters are each taking $100,000 salaries. While this seems like a fairly large number to take from your startup at first glance, you mentioned during the show that it’s still a large paycut. Can you go into more detail on what you guys did before launching Coffee Meets Bagel?

My twin sister Aroom worked in a variety of capacities but was always in the consumer field. She started her career at Avon working in marketing analytics and worked on Avon.com. She also worked at Amazon as a product manager in the children’s category. So she has a lot of experience in a tech e-commerce space.

For me, I jumped around here and there. I also worked at Avon because I love the consumer space. I kinda changed careers after business school and worked at JP Morgan in their investing group. So I dabbled in finance for a couple of years before starting Coffee Meets Bagel. And my older sister been in graphic design for over 10 years and she’s always worked with luxury brands.”

It seems like you guys complement each other really well in terms of skills and talent. You all come together like a perfect recipe.

Yeah, you know it kinda reminds me of Steve Jobs’ graduation speech at Stanford back in 2004. He talks about how you should work on what you are passionate about and years later you will be able to connect dots even though you may not actually be able to see it right away where thing are going. I think that’s what happened to all of us. We kinda went off doing our own thing, doing whatever that was interesting to us, and then it kind of came together five, ten years later.

During your episode, Mark was really turned off because you guys didn’t want to reveal your actual user-base. Can you elaborate more on your reasons why?

In hindsight, I think we should’ve shared the number. Quite frankly, for investors, it is a critical number that you need to know in order to figure out if this is a good deal or not. So If I were to go back, I would just share it. “Shark Tank” is a little bit special because of the public nature of the pitch, but just in general, if you are working in a competitive space, it’s my belief that unless you have to, why bother sharing when you don’t know if it’s gonna do any good? I don’t know if it’s applicable to everyone but that’s just how I think.

“Shark Tank” is not the first time you’ve pitched investors. Aside from the obvious fact that you’re being filmed, are their any major differences you saw between pitching the sharks and the other investors you’ve pitched so far?

What I really appreciate about all the sharks is that they are very quick. Typically when you actually come in front of a VC, a lot of times these VCs are finance-oriented people — a professional financier, right? You rarely actually run into VCs or investors who were entrepreneurs before. What I really appreciate about the Sharks is that all of them are very, very successful entrepreneurs themselves and I think that is a huge plus because they understand where we are coming from and what we are trying to do. I think because of that experience, that’s why they’re very, very sharp. I was very amazed that the level of understanding and command in the business that they were able to garner in that short period of time. With the exception of Mark Cuban, I don’t think any other Sharks are tech investors but they were able to grasp whatever we were trying to do very quickly, and I think it comes from the fact that they get exposed to tons of companies through “Shark Tank” and other means and also they are entrepreneurs themselves.

When Mark offered you $30 million, was there any point at which you actually considered it?

No, not at all. There is no regret there because we know the true value of Coffee Meets Bagel. It’s a lot bigger than $30 million, and to sell now, I think that would be selling ourselves too short. I would have loved taken him as an investor, but not to sell.

As a female who has worked in industries dominated by white males, have you seen any extra challenges?   

A lot of things are very, very subtle. For example, working at JP Morgan, they were pushing very towards diversity, gender but the fact of the matter is it’s still male-dominated industry. Especially my group, which was investing, it was very difficult to find a woman as a role model that I could talk to. When we walk in a room, mostly full of white men, you are constantly reminded of your own race and own gender. I think what’s great about starting my own company is that I never actually had to think about that anymore. I really do want to create a company that no matter what color your skin or gender, you never feel conscious because the company is so 

How has life been since the episode aired?

It’s only been four days since the episode aired (at the time of this interview), but obviously “Shark Tank” is a very popular show and we’ve had a very big surge in sign-ups on the night of the airing, so we’re very, very pleased with the results.

What’s next for you guys?

We have very ambitious goals. We want to be the authority brand when it comes to anything involving romantic relationships. We have a very, very long way to go. We just launched our Android app which was a huge milestone and we’re going to continue to execute our expansion plan.

California ‘Nerd Girl’ seeks perfect date for dinner at Noma in Tokyo

‘Nerd girl’ Stephanie Robesky is looking for a single male who’s ‘easy on the eye’ to join her for a meal at the pop-up incarnation of Noma in Tokyo.

 

Japan Times:

Scoring a table at the Tokyo pop-up of the world’s finest restaurant for your 39th birthday is hard. Finding the perfect date to join you can be even harder.

Mobile tech entrepreneur Stephanie Robesky was among the lucky few to get a reservation at a Noma outlet, open only until Valentine’s Day, out of 60,000 who applied.

Even better, it’s on her birthday, during the last week of January.

But with no one special in her life right now, the San Francisco single gal posted a date-wanted notice on her Nerdgirl.com blog with a demanding set of criteria.

Single. Male. Between 28 and 46 years of age. Good conversational skills. “Easy on the eye,” in her words, and capable of using a fork and knife correctly.

I was thinking, if I got 10 people who applied, that would be nice,” she told a reporter by telephone on Tuesday. “And then it just got crazy.”

As of Tuesday, more than 300 applications had come through, and Robesky expects still more to trickle in before she calls a group of friends over to help her come up with a short-list.

She will then invite the three most interesting prospects out for coffee — hence the stipulation they must all be from the San Francisco Bay area — before making a final decision by Friday.

The winner must pay his own way to Japan, and get his own accommodation. But Robesky will pick up the tab at Noma, which runs at ¥64,900 for the multi-course meal with wine pairings before tax.

So heated is the competition that 82 friends of one hopeful, software engineer Kyle VanderBeek, have signed an online petition at Change.org urging Robesky to pick him.

If you ask the undersigned, ‘Who would you want to break bread and sup deadly hornet larvae with?,’ we the undersigned would unanimously choose. Kyle,” they said. “Kyle’s your guy.”

Robesky’s quest got an unexpected boost when Noma’s 37-year-old chef Rene Redzepi — who founded Noma in 2003 in Copenhagen — gave it a shout out on his Twitter feed on Sunday.

Single ‘Nerd Girl’ wants Bay area dude for epic Tokyo Dinner,” the Danish champion of New Nordic cuisine wrote.

Crowned the world’s best restaurant by Britain’s Restaurant magazine for four of the past five years, including 2014, Noma is at Tokyo’s Mandarin Oriental hotel from Jan. 9 until Feb. 14.

It welcomes no more than 44 guests for lunch and dinner, with a set menu and wine pairings, and Redzepi himself in the kitchen with his 50-strong team brought over from Copenhagen.

Robesky, whose big circle of friends mostly consists of gay men and married couples, and who gave up on her online dating accounts on New Year Day, concedes her approach is bold.

I know what I want and I’m successful at what I do, and if that is seen as a bad quality for women, which I think it is sometimes, I don’t care,” she said.

On her blog, she describes herself as 167 cm and “slim shady.” She enjoys reading, movies and “bad TV,” scuba diving, playing the ukelele, bald cats and eating “good food.”

But on her mission to find the right companion, ready to cross the Pacific for her one-of-a-kind birthday dinner, she’s learned that “there are a lot of interesting people out there.”

“This has renewed my faith in dating in the Bay area.”

Link

“Are you married yet?” – Chinese ad attempts to guilt-trip young women into trying the knot

RocketNews 24:

 

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Chinese dating company Baihe.com has taken the unusual step of producing an ad that attempts to guilt-trip young women into marriage. In it, an elderly woman who is steadily inching closer to death pesters her granddaughter to find a man and tie the knot, constantly asking, “Are you married yet?

Eventually – and we swear we’re not making this up – the troubled young woman resolves that she should stop “being picky” and decides to marry right away.

As we have seen before, the elderly are far more revered in Chinese culture than in the West, and families often strive to care for and oblige their eldest members as best they can, living with and caring for them right up until they die. But even China’s own netizens were decidedly irked by Baihe’s recent commercial, taking to their keyboards to brand it everything from “irresponsible” to “retarded”.

Here are some scenes from the ad itself, which begins with the young female character – who having just graduated is probably only around 22 years old – visiting her elderly grandmother.

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“Are you married yet?”

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Seemingly some years later, granny is looking a little worse for wear, but the same question remains on her lips.

▼ “Are you married yet?”

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▼ “Are you married yet?”

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Finally, the young women resolves that she should make the sensible decision to stop being so “picky” and to marry. Because as we all know, when you choose a person to spend the rest of your life with, you probably shouldn’t spend too much time thinking about it, or pay attention to any niggling doubts you might have about them…

▼ “I can’t take my time being picky.”

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▼ Married. Happy now, Grandma?

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I can completely understand this woman’s desire to make her dying grandmother happy, and I firmly believe that Westerners could learn a lot from the way the people in Asia treat their elderly relatives, but – and call me insensitive if you will – I believe I have a solution for this woman that doesn’t involve potentially ruining her entire life, and it’s one that she should have considered long ago when visiting her marriage-obsessed grandmother: online boyfriend rental. Slip the guy an extra twenty, pop a cheap ring on your finger, job done.

Source: China Smack 
Video/images: Youku (Chinese)

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“Are you married yet?” – Chinese ad attempts to guilt-trip young women into trying the knot

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Asian-White dating video gets strong reaction in Japan

A video of a sexy, attractive Asian American man trying to disprove a stereotype by randomly approaching white women on the street and asking for their phone numbers is getting strong reaction in Japan.

Statistically speaking, Asian American women are much more likely to be dating a white man than Asian American men dating a white women.

Link

Justin Chan asks, “Are Asian men undateable? ‘Yellow fever’ seems to only cut one way.”

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Justin Chan (via PolicyMic.com):

The online dating website “Are You Interested” recently surveyed more than 2.4 million interactions on its site and confirmed what many of us suspect: America loves Asian women.

In fact, Asian female users are more likely to get messages, including inappropriate ones, from male users of any race other than Asian. This trend, popularly dubbed “yellow fever,” is not a new phenomenon, springing instead from an attraction to what some observers say is the exotic appeal of Asian women, and a self-indulging fantasy of being with women who are seen as docile and submissive.

While Asian women seem to be in high demand, Asian men do not. Asian female and non-Asian male pairings are seen to be common, but Asian men are often left out of the discussion over interracial relationships entirely. As one of my black female friends put it, “Asian men, along with black women, are probably the least desirable people.”

A 2007 study conducted by researchers at Columbia University, which surveyed a group of over 400 students who participated orchestrated “speed dating” sessions, showed that African-American and white women said “yes” 65% less often to the prospect of dating Asian men in comparison of men of their own race, while Hispanic women said yes 50% less frequently. Though Asian-Americans still date and marry each other, cultural stereotypes of Asian men may make them less attractive to women of all races, including Asians.

Despite iconic masculine Asian role models like Bruce Lee, Asian men are often portrayed as scrawny males who spend more time studying than lifting weights in the gym, appearing in popular culture as soft-spoken, reserved types who rarely take part in activities that people qualify as “masculine” like professional football or construction work, as characters played for laughs.

These depictions run counter to what society tells us women want: someone confident, tall, dark and handsome.

Women think we have a masculinity that’s maligned and marginalized,” said my friend Jubin Kwon, a Korean-American who grew up in the predominantly white town of Lexington, Mass. “There’s also this idea of relative invisibility, but that applies to all Asian-Americans.”

Given the constant stereotyping Asian-American men face in the media, Asian-American men approaching non-Asian women often either feel an unnecessary burden to prove themselves against Asian stereotypes or keep to themselves in fear of rejection. The agonizing paralysis of self-doubt is well captured by John Shim, who wrote a telling piece for The Daily Bruin in 2002, lamenting “I feel cheated out of a myriad of romantic experiences that could have been brought to fruition were I not an Asian male.”

Growing up, I felt the same way. Part of me believed that I had no chance with non-Asian women because our cultural differences were too apparent. The other part was simply a lack of self-confidence. I rarely had the courage to express my feelings because I was too worried about the what-ifs.

Over time, I forced myself to look past the stigmas that defined Asian males and worked to counter them. It paid off slowly but surely.

For some, the anxiety over being an Asian male that I once harbored can seem like an overreaction. “For me, there is no pressure [in asking a non-Asian woman out],” said my friend Anthony Ma, whose ex-girlfriend was Mexican. “But if you’re from a very traditional Asian household, there might be some.”

Even for those who share Ma’s confidence, the sad truth is that the media continues to perpetuate the emasculated Asian male stereotype. To some, we are quiet or asexual. To others, we’re less manly than our white, black and Hispanic counterparts. The consensus seems to be that Asian men have nothing going for them. “While growing up in a homogeneous white town, it was a standard perception that Asian men just weren’t attractive,” Sarah Shaw acknowledged in a post for Mapping Words earlier this year.

Whether this line of thought will change depends on the media’s openness to promote more traditionally or differentially masculine Asian figures, and the willingness of Asian men to tackle existing media stereotypes of us head-on. As long as characters like Short Round continue to exist, Asian males will always have to confront issues regarding their masculinity.

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Justin Chan asks, “Are Asian men undateable? ‘Yellow fever’ seems to only cut one way.”