Shark Tank gives entrepreneurs in the early stages of establishing their business an amazing opportunity to gain funding to advance their businesses further. Over the years, a vast range of business ideas have been presented to the Sharks. While some of these have been a flop, there have been many innovative and unique businesses that have impressed the Sharks as they showed huge potential. One such idea that the Sharks showed interest in was Coffee Meets Bagel.
Coffee Meets Bagel is a dating and social networking website that was launched in April 2012 by sisters Arum, Dawoon, and Soo Kang. The sisters made a bid for investment in an episode of Shark Tank that aired in January 2015. They wanted an investment of $500,000 in exchange for 5% of their business.
Their pitch impressed the Sharks so much that Mark Cuban made the biggest bid in the history of the series. Rather than offering the sisters the $500,000 they wanted for a 5% stake, he offered them $30 million for the entire business. This bid astounded viewers and even surprised Cuban’s fellow Sharks.
However, the Kang sisters were not willing to part with their business and, to the alarm of many viewers, turned down the offer. They explained that they believed their business would become more valuable than the offer made by Mark Cuban and that they wanted to retain control of the business they created.
The rejection led to a backlash against the three women, especially on social media. People criticized their decision and the women felt that they were the victims of sexism against women in business. People also described them as greedy for wanting more money for their business and for paying themselves a salary of $100,000 a year each. Again, the women defended this decision by saying that the cost of living in San Francisco, where the business is based, is high and that they had worked for nothing while establishing the company.
Critics believed that rejecting the offer made by Mark Cuban would lead to the women failing with Coffee Meets Bagel. However, this has not been the case and the women have gone on to make a success of their dating and social networking business, proving their critics wrong.
Their website and app already had 21 million users by 2015, just months after their bid for funding was aired on television. This is a figure that has continued to grow. The company has also developed geographically as the site was first launched in New York City in April 2012 and then in Boston the following month. In October of the same year, they launched their app in San Francisco. Since appearing on Shark Tank, the app and website have expanded to international users as they launched in Hong Kong and Sydney in 2015.
Like many businesses that expand so rapidly, the three co-founders still needed funding to allow their business to reach its full potential. Although they turned down Mark Cuban’s offer, they were not against having financial backing from other investors. They were able to raise $6.7 million in Series B funding by May 4, 2018. This has allowed them to expand their business further.
Coffee Meets Bagel has become so successful because it has many unique selling points when compared to other dating and social network sites. It uses Facebook to match users based on things they have in common. The men, who are known as coffees, are sent 21 matches each day at noon. The matches they like, known as bagels, will then have the option to like any of the matches who have already liked them. They can then only make direct contact with each other if they both click ‘like’ on a potential match.
Due to the experience of the co-founders and the investments they have received in their business, they are able to deliver what they initially aimed for when they founded the company. They offer a differentiated dating service for men and women that stands out from other dating apps that singles were becoming disheartened with due to the time wasting, ghosting, and constant swiping. The Kang sisters have successfully created a different option for people interested in dating and this has allowed them to expand their business drastically since they first had the concept for Coffee Meets Bagel.