Boba Meets Bagel logo

Boba Meets Bagel

Connecting Asians through a niche dating app.

Coffee Boba Meets Bagel is a responsive web app designed for young Asians in English-speaking countries to apply to date each other.

Our app accumulated over 40,000 users and got acquired, all in the span of 1 month.

Mobile version of applying to date someone in Discover

OUTCOME

More connections, more relationships

In 1 month:

  • 40,000+ users
  • 121,000+ matches
  • 2 success stories
  • I met someone and flew out to San Diego!
  • App got acquired

THE PROBLEM

How might we engage this Asian community in a way that fosters more connections and stronger relationships?

Every Facebook group has their own set of rules, quirks, culture, and people. Subtle Asian Dating was no different. This was a group of 300,000+ Asian members looking to connect with each other and find their next partner.


However, this was a unique use case in which Facebook Groups wasn’t designed for this level of intimacy.

Subtle Asian Dating FB group page
Subtle Asian Dating fb group

In Subtle Asian Dating, people auction off their friends in the form of posts.

Each post consists of:

  • Bio
  • Pros
  • Cons
  • Social media links
  • Photos
Auction posts in Subtle Asian Dating
Example of an auction in SAD

ISSUES

Messages and profiles were fragmented.

If you were interested in someone, you had to reach out via LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc. It was difficult to keep track of people you've viewed and messages you've sent.

DM'ing someone was overwhelming.

The only way to show interest in someone was to DM them. This has always been a daunting task, so many people just don't do it.

Flow chart of how the current experience is
Flowchart of the current experience

OUR TARGET USERS

Young Asians in English-speaking countries

We first began by understanding our audience. We studied the Facebook group, read people's profiles, and looked at what people were posting in the group. Our target users were very similar to us.

College student

As a college student, I want to meet interesting people just like me, so that I can begin dating.

Young professional

As a young professional, I want to find someone so that I don't have to feel alone while I'm working 9-5.

BRAINSTORMING

We thought about a number of different ideas and pitched our friends for feedback.


A feed of dating profiles to Like and Dislike, a Tinder-style swiping experience, a way for people to apply to date each other, and even an email experience where we send you one profile a day.



A lightbulb moment

From talking with friends, we realized that the majority of our target users were young and had little working experience. So, the apply-to-date concept seemed the most promising.

  • What if we treated everything like job apps?
  • What if people could apply to date each other in the same way they apply to jobs?

IDEATION

Classic pencil and paper sketches

From here, we explored 7 different concepts for applying to date someone.

The current Express experience with issues outlined

REALIZATION

Slow down there, buddy

Sketching out our ideas made us realize something: We don't even know if people will use our product - let alone sign up.


So we took a step back to come up with a minimal MVP to test our idea.

MVP

Move fast, test things

Stripping this down to its basic functionality:

  1. Create your profile.
  2. Share your page in FB group.
  3. Receive an email notification for when someone applies to you.
  4. If you accept someone's application, then we'll connect both via email.
The flow for the MVP version of Boba Meets Bagel
MVP flow

🚀 TESTING

How will people respond to this apply-to-date concept?

Will people be interested? How well does this concept of applying to date someone resonate with them?

How will people feel about using a new app instead of staying within the Facebook group?

We launched the MVP as a way to test the concept with these two scenarios in mind ⬇

Scenario One

Loryn creates his page from Boba Meets Bagel's website. Then, he shares his page to the Subtle Asian Dating Facebook group.

Desktop version of signing up from the website

Scenario Two

Amy browses Facebook and notices Loryn's auction with a new apply to date link. She's interested so she taps on the link, creates her profile, and applies.

Mobile version of signing up from Facebook

Bringing old school emailing back

Emailing was a critical part of this MVP experience. These needed to be fun and drive engagement. I designed and built these emails that our users would commonly interact with.

Welcome email gif
Welcome email
You applied to date someone email gif
You applied to someone email
Someone applied to date you email gif
Someone applied to you email
It's a match! email gif
It's a match! email

TEST RESULTS

6000 signs ups

within the first 24 hours.

~100 links shared

on Facebook during the first week.

LEARNINGS

We used the MVP launch as a way to test the apply-to-date concept. To our delight, it was a successful launch. However, We learned two very important things:

1. Many emails were being marked as spam.

Since I created the emails, I kept updating the HTML and test-sending emails to spam-proof our content. This was an ongoing process.

2. People wanted more profiles to apply to date outside of just links on FB.

Our biggest feedback was the users wanted more. It was clear that people were willing to sign up and use a new app, outside of FB.

NEW FEATURES

More users, more hustle

Over the next few weeks, things were getting crazy. We were getting a ton of sign-ups, feature requests, people posting their page links, and memes.

Now that we knew our idea works, we aimed to increase engagement in our app.

Boba Meets Bagel meme our users created
Memes our users created and shared

  Discover

Ability for people to go through the profiles one at a time in the app. This was a step in building more in-app experiences.

Mobile version of our new Discover mode

More new features

  Matches

  Applications

  Viewing History

Desktop version of showing our new features

  404 error

A page for when pages aren't found.

404 page
Our 404 page

BRANDING

Paying homage to the asian culture

I also worked on the branding and art direction while staying true to our values.

Attention grabbing

Our name was a play off of Coffee Meets Bagel. It was controversial (because it was similar to CMB) which grabbed people's attention.

Fun and playful

Our name, colors, visual design, and illustrations were all designed to give off these feelings.

Relative to the asian demographic

References to boba, Pikachu, Crazy Rich Asians, etc.

Maintain the nature of the FB group

As with the FB group, we used lots of emojis and words like "Shoot your shot".

Boba Meets Bagel brand styling
Documentation of some of our brand assets

OUTCOME

From a fun side project to an acquisition

In 1 month:

  • 40,000+ users
  • 121,000+ matches
  • 2 success stories
  • I met someone and flew out to San Diego!
  • App got acquired

KEY TAKEAWAYS

This was our baby

This project is near and dear to our heart because of the level of impact we had and how collaborative and scrappy we were able to get to connect our asian community.

Learnings:

Not everything warrants a full design process.

It depends on constraints like time, level of effort, level of impact, and domain knowledge. Ultimately, it's up to you and your team to work with a process that works for your situation. Do what works for you.

Execution matters more than the idea.

There are so many dating apps out there. But, we were able to market this to a niche audience and brand it in a way that resonated with our people.

Biggest Challenge:

Knowing which customer feedback to act upon.

We were overwhelmed by the amount of customer feedback: new feature ideas, bugs product suggestions, etc. It was difficult to work through but we kept tying things back to the core problem.

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