Kimberly Kaplan Is on to the Next Big Thing in Online Dating
Kimberly Kaplan spent a decade at Plenty of Fish before becoming an adviser for tech start-ups and angel investors. Now, the Vancouver-based entrepreneur is reinventing dating for the next generation with Snack—a new app that’s like TikTok meets Tinder.
I had this lightbulb moment near the end of 2019 when I saw a TikTok video of a woman trying to use the app to date. I thought: “Video dating is going to be the next wave.”
To be honest, I don’t think I really knew this would be my eventual path. I did a degree in geography at Queen’s and then a master’s in international business in Australia. I got an internship at an ad agency in Sydney, but I was only there for a few months when I realized that advertising wasn’t for me. I moved back to Vancouver, and that’s where I met Markus Frind, founder of the dating site Plenty of Fish, in a chance encounter. He called me the next day and asked if I wanted a job.
I was at Plenty of Fish for 10 years, and every day was something new. I did everything from our offline marketing to launching new platforms. (The app didn’t exist when I joined.) As it grew, I took on revenue optimization, including helping to navigate the company’s acquisition by Match Group.
When I first had the idea for Snack, I tried to get people to talk me out of it. Online dating is a hard industry to break into, and I know how challenging it is to scale a social app. So I called up people I knew in the industry, and every single person except for one said, “It’s brilliant; you have to do it.” Then I specifically reached out to groups of Gen Zers and sought their advice. They’d provide feedback on their dating experience as well as what they wanted. They even came up with the name, Snack. I had to google the slang meaning, which just showed me how important it is to be talking to our audience and seeking their input.
I planned to go to San Francisco to fundraise in March 2020. Then COVID-19 hit, so I paused. Development started on the side in September, while I did fundraising over Zoom. I had never raised capital before, so I reached out to a number of people in tech for advice. Their input ultimately prepared me to raise $3.5 million US in only three weeks. I purposely held out 25 per cent for Canadian investors because that enables venture capitalists to put funds back in the ecosystem.
I was recruiting people to be part of the team but told them that until the funds were secured I didn’t want them to leave their jobs. The money hit the bank in October, and everyone gave their notice. We launched at the end of February 2021, but it was still very much a prototype. Snack lets users share videos of themselves to match with others and build connections, so we wanted to see how people would actually use it, what was working and what wasn’t working and then quickly adapt from there. That’s my ethos: Put something out there, get feedback and iterate. In July, we reached over 2.5 million minutes of videos viewed.
The support and excitement has been unbelievable. I fundamentally believe there’s an opportunity for this to be the next Tinder. The selfie era was all about the perfect version of yourself; Snack is more “Here’s who I am, unapologetically.”