Entrepreneur Profile: Dawoon Kang, Founder of CMB

by Aidan Sakiri

It’s incredible. And now that same convenience is entering into our love lives in the form of a site called Coffee Meets Bagel (CMB), which just launched today in NYC.

It’s quite simple. After signing in through Facebook, CMB will match you with one person every day at noon. This person isn’t just some rando; more often than not it’s a friend of a friend whom you’ve never met before. You have two simple options: like or pass. If you pass, it’s over. That person is gone, and tomorrow is a new day.

If you click like, things get a bit more interesting. Well, they really only get more interesting if that special someone happens to “like” you, too. If such a connection occurs, you and your new love interest will be immediately connected through a text message sent from a private company phone line. How convenient, right?

It gets better, though. Once you’re connected, CMB will hook you guys up with free gifts from dating spots in NYC like Billy’s Bakery, Cafe Grumpy, and Pierre Loti for your first date.

The company has plans to roll the service out in four other cities by the end of the year, but for now this app is for New York-based love birds only. Other cities will be added once Coffee Meets Bagel receives 1,000 emails from users in this or that city who are interested in the service.

So what is the inspiration behind your company's name?

We wanted to create a brand that is very approachable and comfortable. Our research showed that this was important, especially for women. And given that our service interacts with our members once a day at noon, we asked ourselves, "what is one thing that people interact with everyday and look forward to?" And we thought about coffee break. Bagels go very well with coffee and it's very New York too.

With a flood of dating applications and websites, what do you think it is about your process innovates the dating industry? Is there an incentive in ease of use over a complex process like eHarmony?

Coffee Meets Bagel is all about simplicity and privacy. While typical services want to make users spend more time on their website, we want to minimize that to get people to meet in person faster. We do this by carefully curating the right matches for people and limiting that to one person a day. No one else but your match of the day sees your profile--and for only 24 hours. There's something very unique about knowing that your match is looking at your profile at the same time you are looking at theirs, and that you may never connect again after 24 hours.

What about the perks, how do you think these allow you to stymie the already awkward process of a first date?

First dates can be awkward and stressful, whether you meet through offline or online. By suggesting places we know are great places for a first date, we achieve two things--it's one less thing our members have to worry about, and it gives them an excuse to meet up to check out the place!

What is the biggest failure you have experienced in your career? How did you learn from your failure?

I think my biggest failure so far in my career was not taking enough risks. I always chose the safer, more stable route. I still gave my best and cherish the time I spent working at the companies I did, but I think I might have gotten where I am today sooner if I had been more brave. But I guess the fact that I'm here means I learned from that failure.

What advice would you give other young people about pursuing a career in the face of failure?

Take every opportunity to talk to people who have made different career decisions in the past to learn what's out there. It's incredible how little I knew when I graduated college about possible career options. Also, choose your career based on who you will work with and for, not just what.

3 Tips of Success

1. Just do it. 2. Work hard and be generous. 3. Always be present--you don't know what you miss out if you are not there.

What does success mean to you and your business?

When our team gets invited to a wedding by a couple met on Coffee Meets Bagel--that's a success!

What plans do you have for your career that we would have never suspected?

At some point in the future, I do want to help out with our family business which is in metal recycling. It's too far out to think about it now though.

How do you plan on expanding your business, keeping it relevant in the future?

I think it's important that we surround ourself with people who continue to challenge and push us to stay relevant. Our vision is to not have CMB limited to a specific region--we want all the singles around the world to be able to use our service.

5, 10, 50 years down the line when you’ve achieved everything you aspire for today, where do you see yourself?

Honestly, I don't really think 5, 10, 50 years out. I have much shorter term milestones I want to achieve--a day, week, month, a year. It's kind of ironic but I often find myself telling our team to think small, not big and think short, not long. I think that helps us to be more daring and agile which is critical at this stage of our company.