Meet Arum Kang: Creating a Dating Scene Free from Swipes

Arum Kang

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2020, 12% of Americans reported they had a committed relationship or marriage with someone they met online. While many enjoy the experience of online dating, it’s not without its pitfalls; Arum Kang decided to fix them.

Arum Kang came up with the idea for Coffee Meets Bagel, an online dating platform that revolutionizes the selection process. No more endless swiping. The algorithm’s perfect match for you arrives in your inbox once a day.

So what sets Coffee Meets Bagel apart? How has Arum and her sisters shaken up the multibillion dollar online dating industry? Let’s take a look at what they’ve accomplished so far.

Arum Kang: Getting Started

Arum grew up with her twin sister Dawoon Kang and older sister Soo Kang. They lived in South Korea with their entrepreneurial parents. Their father owned a metal recycling business in Seoul, and their mother managed a series of bars and restaurants. They learned early on the value of hard work and the empowering feeling of owning a business.

Their father always dreamed of getting an education in America, but was never afforded the chance. So he committed to sending his daughters to the country in order to pursue bright futures. Arum said, “Out of all places, he sent us to Hawaii” where they lived with a host family. Arum described it as “literally, a paradise.” Arum was 12 at the time.

Arum and her twin sister Dawoon went to the University of Pennsylvania for their undergraduate degrees. After graduation, they worked as senior analysts for Avon Products.

In 2009, Arum enrolled at the Harvard Business School. While getting her MBA, she came up with the idea for Coffee Meets Bagel. When she graduated from Harvard, she connected with her sisters to start the company.

Arum Kang: CEO of Coffee Meets Bagel

There’s so many dating sites out there. What sets Coffee Meets Bagel apart?

The service targets busy, professional millennials without time to waste on the dating scene. With apps like Tinder, you get quantity over quality. But what’s the use of having unlimited swipes if you’re not finding someone you connect with on a deeper level there?

Instead of scrolling through people’s online profiles, you only get matched with one person a day.

Dawoon explained on Shark Tank, “We all know online dating sucks. Why? Because it treats people as a piece of information you search for using a huge database. People want to go back to a time of happenstance where you just stumble upon someone special, maybe through a friend. That’s why we created Coffee Meets Bagel.”

When Soo used dating sites, she felt uncomfortable that “random strangers could have access to her information and photos.” The alternative is a site that pairs down your options, like eHarmony. However, that platform requires that you spend hours filling out questionnaires. Young professionals don’t have the time to commit to such an arduous process.

Coffee Meets Bagel connects to your Facebook profile and uses its algorithm to send its users one match (known as your “bagel”) for the day. You can like or pass. If you both like each other, you get a week to chat online before deciding to meet in person.

The Success and Future of Coffee Meets Bagel

Coffee Meets Bagel launched in 2013 and serviced major cities such as Boston, LA, and San Francisco.

In November 2014, they reached 160,000 unique visitors: sevenfold what they had in the previous year.

In year 1, the site generated $87,000. By 2014’s end, they made $1 million.

Even as their success continues to grow, Arum Kang and her sisters never forget why they started the company. They have a bell in their small office that they ring whenever they hear of an engagement or marriage that came from Coffee Meets Bagel.

Becoming a financial success is great. But if you start a business based on a dream you have of a better world, that success will be far more satisfying.

Published in Featured Articles, Featured Women
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Author, Artist, Photographer.

Sarah Margaret is an artist who expresses her love for feminism, equality, and justice through a variety of mediums: photography, filmmaking, poetry, illustration, song, acting, and of course, writing.

She owns Still Poetry Photography, a company that showcases her passion for capturing poetic moments in time. Instead of poetry in motion, she captures visual poetry in fractions of a second, making cherished keepsakes of unforgettable moments.

She is the artist behind the Still Poetry Etsy shop, which houses her illustrations and bespoke, handmade items. She is the author of intricacies are just cracks in the wall, a narrative poetry anthology that follows a young woman discovering herself as she emerges from an abusive relationship.

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