Online and mobile dating services have seen a resurgence as of late, with new products ranging from the primal and superficial Bang with Friends, to the more profile and relationship-minded Let’s Date. The growth in the digital matchmaking has seemingly paralleled the equally precipitous decline of the daily deals model. It’s funny then, one of the more interesting companies in the category combines the best of each of these concepts.
Coffee Meets Bagel is a casual and lightweight way to meet a new person each day, from within you friends of friends Facebook graph, based on pre-selected interests. If both parties are into learning more about one another the service facilitates an introduction and delivers a deal to a local restaurant or cafe. The Chicago-based company launched in New York City and Boston initially last summer and expanded to San Francisco in September. Today, the company is announcing expansions to Los Angeles, Chicago, and DC.
In LA in particular, Coffee Meets Bagel is extending its online meets offline theme by partnering with sharing economy ridesharing service SideCar. Anyone that finds a date in the new market between today and next Friday (March 29th), will get a $25 SideCar credit to use on their date. The concept of simplifying a first date by providing the intro, the venue, and the ride seems simple, but should be a boon to both service which are relatively new in the market. The company has executed similar partnerships in the past with Bonobos, Rent the Runway, and Kicks.
Part of the reason for Coffee Meets Bagel’s slow geographic expansion has been the company’s reliance on tight social networks. Because the app dips into your Facebook graph, and the service truly aims to fix you up with a good match, it needs certain demographics and population density. All three new markets have large populations of young singles that have shown demand for CMB’s expansion.
Coffee Meets Bagel is one of the only platforms among this new generation of services to have a significant monetization strategy in place. Through its in app currency, “beans,” users can make various in-app purchases. The first such option, “Mirror Mirror,” launched earlier this year to offer users a popularity score which compares the rate at which other users accept their introductions compared to the rest of the service’s user base – results are delivered based on the quartile so as not to come across too unsavory. According to its founders, CMB’s monetization has been “extremely strong, with engagement metrics on par with the social gaming category.”
Another upcoming paid product will be “Double Bagel,” in which users can pay extra to receive two introductions per day. CMN also offers a free product called “Give” that allows users to pass along a recommendation to a friend should they think there’s a better potential match.
Coffee Meets Bagel is backed by $600,000 in seed funding from Lightbank, a Chicago-based VC firm owned by Groupon co-founders Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, and from Match.com co-founder Peng T. Ong.
Since its April 2012 launch, Coffee Meets Bagel has delivered 640,000 matches, to its more than 70,000 registered users. The number is still small, relative to Match.com’s 1.7 million paid users, or OKCupid’s 7 million free users. But, CMP’s pool of eager daters has been growing at a rate of 25 percent month over month, with 70 percent of all users active and checking their new matches daily. The current population on the site is 60 percent women, down from 70 percent in its early days, and roughly 70 percent younger than 30 years old as well as 95 percent younger than 35.
Online dating has changed from a generation ago. No longer is it the domain of only the desperate. Today’s services offer a variety of option to meet every desired experience. Some of the newest offering feel like fads that are likely to fade away just as quickly as they sprung up. CMB feels more like a natural evolution of the way dating and social matchmaking happen offline, and thus more likely to survive.
Given the above demographics, for those looking for a potential real relationship with a single Facebook user in a big city in their 20’s or early 30’s, Coffee Meets Bagel looks like the most attractive new option. Act fast, and you won’t even have to ask your mom to give you a ride.