Proust Startups

Proust Goes Tech With Dawoon Kang, Co-Founder And COO Of Coffee Meets Bagel

Dawoon Kang is the co-founder, COO and Head of Marketing at Coffee Meets Bagel. With an MBA from Stanford and a wealth of professional experience she is a passionate expert in her field with a background in business development and investment to bolster it.

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As entrepreneurs endeavoring to change the way people connect through their company, Dawoon and her sisters Arum and Soo are well aware of the challenges people face opening up to others. In light of that awareness, Dawoon made it easy for us our latest installment of Proust Goes Tech, genuinely and openly answering questions about her faults, fears, and life goals.

What would you otherwise be doing right now?

I would probably be doing another startup in another space. Definitely in the consumer space.

One of the reasons I created Coffee Meets Bagel is because I grew up with my dad being an entrepreneur. I had seen him grow his company, spending so many hours thinking about it. It was his other baby. We kind of grew up with a mentor that said the best way to leave a legacy in this world is to create something meaningful out of nothing. We’ve always believed that we wanted to create something that could impact millions of people’s lives.

So I’d be doing something else in the B2C consumer space, but I’m not really sure what.

Your main fault?

I have many many flaws. I’m not sure if there’s a main fault, but one of the things that I am actively working on now is having fun and being playful.

Sometimes I just wake up and say to myself, “Today I’m going to be fun and playful for others.” I think that I sometimes take things too seriously. Sometimes I take life too seriously.

The quality you most desire in a tweet?

Something that makes me think. I forgot what the original character limit was. Was it 180? 140 or something like that. So something that’s short and provokes thinking on my part.

Your idea of misery?

A couple of things come to mind. But one is when I see people dedicating a big part of their lives on careers where they aren’t thriving. That’s actually very painful for me to see.

That’s one of the things that I tell my Coffee Meets Bagel team.  I say that if you’re not flourishing and thriving here at Coffee Meets Bagel then I want to help you somehow change that or help you find a place where you can because your life is too precious.

What do you appreciate the most in your friends?

They’re always so supportive and loyal. Knowing that they always have my back and that I can turn to them anytime for anything. That’s something that I appreciate in my friends and in my family.

Your chief characteristic?

I would say I’m always learning, I’m open-minded, and I’m adventurous.

What skill do you wish you possessed?

Hmm. There are certain people whom when you start conversing with them they understand you beyond your words. They are able to parse out what you’re committed to and when you’re talking to them they’re able to make you feel understood. I want to have that kind of listening skill.

Your most impactful book?

I’m just going to mention the latest book that I read. It was Dan Horwitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things. I really would recommend this to any entrepreneur.

One you realize while reading is that entrepreneurs are on one huge roller coaster ride. Sometimes we have to walk in the face of uncertainty. We have to have blind faith in ourselves even when we don’t believe it ourselves.

The book came out of his eight years of running Opsware and it just really gives you some great life lessons.

What defines success?

For me the biggest thing is knowing that I made a contribution to everyone in my life. As cheesy as it is, leaving the world a better place than how I found it.

When is confidence lost?

*laughs* I just feel that we lose confidence all of the time. I think it’s what makes us human. You know? It could be as random as the fact that today is raining and I feel like the world is not a good place today. You could wake up not feeling great maybe because you’re tired. It could be because you’re disappointed in yourself because you were committed to something but weren’t able to do it. It could be rejection. Really anything.

Which buzzword is exhausted?

“Crushing it.”

What virtues do others have that you don’t?

Patience. When things are not done in a time frame that I was expecting I get short really easily.

What impact do you want to leave behind?

At Stanford they have a saying that says, “Change Lives, Change Organizations. Change the World.” I want to know that what I created has made a really positive contribution to millions of peoples’ lives. I want to know that I’ve contributed to the happiness and fulfillment of everyone in my life or who I interact with, whether that’s my team members, my family, or my friends.

What’s the biggest problem tech is failing to solve?

Hmm *chuckles* This is kind of funny coming from a dating app founder, but I think it’s dating, relationships, and connecting. There’s  a lot of frustration right now around dating. It’s not new, there has always been frustration with dating.

Online dating was able to solve some of that frustration with convenience and efficiency. That was all great, but there are still a lot of limitations that we have to innovate on. One of those is when people make serious connections on our platform versus things like ghosting and catfishing or just not being able to really get to know someone. But that part about dating that is getting to experience and know someone isn’t really happening with apps right now.

There is a little bit of societal nervousness around something that is as fundamental as love or feeling of belonging and connecting being addressed by a technology which feels very cold. And so there’s a mindset shift that we have to address as well. But I don’t think we’ve quite figured that out just yet.

Editorial Note: Answers edited for brevity and clarity.

Illustration Credit: Li Anne Dias

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