This Dartmouth Startup’s Dating App Will Help You Find Your BAE In NO Time
Over the last ten years, dating apps have absolutely exploded all over the world. Today, more than 30 million people actively use these platforms to connect with other singles in their surrounding areas. However, statistics show that people of color tend to be discriminated against on some of the more popular apps, like Tinder. Thanks to three African American Dartmouth alumni, there is now a dating app specifically designed for black men and women.
Founded in 2013 by three Dartmouth College Alumni Jordan Kunzika, Justin Gerrard, and Brian Gerrard, BAE is one of the most popular dating apps in the world for black millennial singles. The platform was acquired by a technology company in 2017, but not before a stellar rise and journey that led to hundreds of thousands of users. Through BAE’s inspirational story, CEO Kunzika has helped shattered stereotypes of what the successful software engineer looks like in the modern world.
BAE Learns From Your Swipes
On the surface, BAE functions similarly to how other dating apps work. Users swipe right to indicate interest in others and are matched with those who feel similarly. Where BAE differentiates itself is with its proprietary algorithm that learns user preferences over time and gradually presents closer matches tailored specifically to the individual user. As a result, BAE’s users see higher quality matches more often and have better chances of meeting someone who aligns with their interests.
The app was originally launched at Howard University in April 2015. To promote the platform, the founding team took BAE on a roadshow to several HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) and threw promo parties. College students were encouraged to download the app and then attend mixers where they could meet their matches in person. Through the tour, BAE built up a large user base of its target demographic and quickly spread to other colleges. In its first month on the market, BAE was downloaded 17,000 times! After a few short years, the app supported several hundred thousand users and is now one of the most popular dating platforms in 20 African and Caribbean countries.
“I Knew That I Could Serve A Higher Calling To Represent A Paradigm Shift In What A Tech Entrepreneur Could Look Like”
– Jordan Kunzika
BAE was founded by three Dartmouth alumni, Jordan Kunzika, Justin Gerrard, and Brian Gerrard. The trio met during their junior year of college and decided to invest fully in the BAE concept after realizing there was a big gap in the online dating landscape for black men and women. Early on, BAE received significant financial and resource support from Dartmouth. CTO Kunzika was even able to restructure his senior year class schedule in such a way that allowed him to focus full-time on the venture.
Instrumental in helping get the app off the ground was the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network (DEN), an organization that brings together alumni affinity groups focused on entrepreneurship. In addition to receiving a DEN Founder Grant, BAE won the 2015 Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Forum and was accepted to Facebook’s FbStart Accelerate program.
In early 2017, BAE was acquired by if(we), a San Francisco-based social and mobile technology company that also owns one of the world’s largest dating sites, Tagged. Justin Gerrard was hired by if(we) through the acquisition and is now running their marketing and growth efforts.
“I think that the opportunity to leverage what we learned at BAE to grow our new parent company’s existing brands will position them for long-term success within the social consumer app space,” says Gerrard.
Cofounder Kunzika has moved on from BAE and now works as a software engineer for Google.
Ready, Set, LAUNCH!
This Untold College Spotlight provides a great example of how to launch a product successfully. BAE’s founding team honed in on a well-defined target audience and went after it with all of their time and energy. By taking BAE on a tour to HBCUs, the startup was able to build up major pre-launch buzz and set the app up for success. The BAE team developed a strong marketing plan and was able to quickly share their great product with the rest of the world.
When starting a company, it is crucial to build momentum early on while you are trying to gain your footing. Before you launch your groundbreaking product or service, invest the time to build out a strong promotion plan that will get you in front of your target audience. This way, you can prove your value proposition to them while you have their undivided attention and gain lifelong loyalty right off the bat! And for those interested in giving BAE a try, download the app here!