How a former Match Group exec plans to create a dating app for the next generation with a video-first approach and team of Gen Zers

  • Kim Kaplan is the CEO of the Snack app, a new video-first approach to online dating for Gen Z. 
  • It closed a pre-seed funding round in September 2020, receiving $3.5 million.
  • She’s using her staff made up of 40% Gen Z and strong ties to their online community to “usurp Tinder.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Kim Kaplan has witnessed the online dating world evolve, having spent 10 years overseeing marketing and revenue initiatives for the Canadian dating website Plenty of Fish.

In 2015, she was also part of the executive team that sold the Vancouver-based company to Match Group, which now owns other dating sites such as Tinder and OkCupid, for $575 million.

Since then, dating online has only grown, with 30% of US adults reporting using a dating app or website in 2019, up from 11% in 2013, according to a 2020 report from Pew Research Center.

Having to avoid in-person meetups during the pandemic hasn’t stopped people from still trying to find a partner online, either. Dating app Bumble, which filed its initial public offering in February, reported 31% revenue growth and a 32.5% increase in paid users in its first public earnings report for 2021. Match Group, which in 2020 controlled over 60% of the dating app market, has also seen increased downloads compared to pre-COVID-19 levels. 

Despite the continued growth of online dating and its major players, Kaplan is betting there’s room for improvement — especially in tailoring the dating experience to a video-first generation. 

Her new video app Snack hopes to change the game for Gen Z by reflecting the dating style that the younger generation is most comfortable with — a mixture of overt and covert flirting online. 

“Dating apps have been trying to do video for years, but historically when you added video to a dating app, it was just a slideshow of images,” the founder and CEO told Insider.

She launched Snack in 2020 after noticing a gap between where daters matched and where they started flirting. While the initial match is made on a dating app, she said, oftentimes Gen Z take their flirting to Instagram or Snapchat, sharing their social profiles with each other as soon as they first connect. 

“You shouldn’t have to date on two apps,” Kaplan said.

Snack, on the other hand, builds off of “slower, covert flirtation that might lead somewhere,” Kaplan said. Daters can scroll through and upload videos or update their profile as frequently as they wish, leaving the courtship to continue all on one platform.

“Now is the right time for Snack to own this space, and we don’t have to train people on how to create videos because TikTok has already done that,” Kaplan said. 

Snack closed a pre-seed funding round in September 2020, receiving $3.5 million from US venture firms Kindred Ventures and Coelius Capital, as well as assistance from Canadian firms Golden Ventures, Garage Capital, Panache Ventures, and N49P. 

So far, the app has a small user base mainly made up of Gen Z in Canada, US, UK, and Australia, although Kaplan said other age groups, including millennials, are also signing up. The app became available to download in February. 

Combining design with data

Having worked across different companies within Match Group and seen online dating move from desktop to mobile, Kaplan said she’s been able to cherry-pick the best features to apply to her new venture.

“Tinder is a company that puts design first; they found success by launching new features like Tinder Gold and getting excitement around those launches, even if it included new paying features,” Kaplan said.  

At Plenty of Fish, the focus was on collecting and reviewing data as opposed to creating buzz in the app. 

Now with Snack, Kaplan said she’s benefitting from those that came before and asking questions like, “How do we make this fun instead of merely utilitarian?” 

Connecting with Gen Z

Kaplan relies a lot on the Gen Z community she’s become connected to for feedback and ideas, like Emma Salinas, one of the founders of the tech community Gen Z Mafia, who helped come up with the name Snack. The community also decided what Snack’s logo would look like. 

In addition, Kaplan consults Snack’s invite-only group on the chat platform Discord for input on decisions. 

“I have the framework for what will work for dating, and I want to hold onto that, but I also need to know what Gen Z is looking for, and the only way to do that is by involving them in the conversation,” Kaplan said.

The team of 10 at Snack is made up of 40% Gen Zers, with an even 50-50 split of male and female staffers. 

Kaplan is leading the team using the acronym RICE, which is a scoring approach that breaks each project or idea down into “reach,” “impact,” “confidence,” and “effort.” 

“Each item is mapped to a specific metric you want to make progress on,” Kaplan said. “If it’s daily active users (DAU), then we score each project against the impact it would have on improving DAU, and that stackranks all of our initiatives to set out our roadmap.”

At the moment, Snack doesn’t have any plans to monetize, Kaplan said, adding that the sole focus is on growing the customer base and providing a great experience. But she does have a goal to “usurp Tinder one day,” she said, which makes money through premium subscriptions and ads. 

“The way I see it, Tinder is your parents dating app and Snack is for the next generation,” Kaplan said.

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