Update at 4:12 p.m. Pacific: Updated 17 percent to 70 percent, and 2 million to 100 million. 

Oftentimes entrepreneurs set out to build the solution they couldn’t find when struggling with a problem. For Q Zhao, it was finding fellow Chinese singles in the Bay Area in a simple and efficient manner.

Her solution? 2RedBeans, a dating site geared towards Chinese singles in foreign markets who are looking to connect with fellow Chinese singles. 2RedBeans bills itself as “a dating site for Chinese diaspora,” or “JDate for Chinese people,” as Zhao described it during her presentation at StartX’s demo day yesterday.

While many online dating sites already exist, Zhao, who admits she’s tried pretty much all of them, realized that it was difficult to sift through all the profiles and messages efficiently. At the same time, there’s also the fear of leaving a stone unturned and possibly missing out on “the one.” Having a dating site that focuses exclusively on your type cuts out the noise and lets you focus on mingling.

But it’s not only about narrowing down the singles. Through her online dating trials and tribulations, Zhao also noticed that the sites weren’t really catering to Chinese users.

“Chinese people care about different things than general America,” she told me. Education, career, how long they’ve been living in the U.S. (or whatever country) are all much more important to Chinese singles than to the average person, Zhao said. Naturally, she designed 2RedBeans’ profiles to make those elements clearly visible.

On the business model front, 2RedBeans is using the tried and true models we all know, charging per-message or for subscriptions, but with a little twist.

“Chinese people are very conservative, so I give them one more thing,” said Zhao. Instead of charging users to pay for each message they send, they are only charged when they open a received message, giving them the feeling of getting a better deal and having more control over the money they pour into the dating site. 2RedBeans also offers a VIP subscription service, which lets users have unlimited messages for a monthly fee. 2RedBeans also organizes social events for its users, which Zhao says are pretty popular and successful.

Here are a few interesting numbers I got from Zhao about her site’s user base:

  • 70 percent of users use simplified/traditional Mandarin as their default site language
  • 30 percent are North America-born
  • 70 percent purchase 6-month to 1-year VIP subscriptions
  • 2 percent of users a non-Asian

Zhao also added that of the 2 percent of users that are non-Asian, most are men and most of them either speak or are in the process of learning Chinese. She and her team know that because many of them share that nugget of information on their profiles and even use Chinese here there while chatting with their matches on the site. Zhao also told me that they have a “really high match rate” with other singles, meaning that they’re quite popular.

“I think Chinese people have a lot of respect for them,” Zhao said, referring to their interest and efforts in learning a new and difficult language.

Most of 2RedBeans users are in California, New York City, and Toronto and Vancouver in Canada. However, Zhao says her total addressable market is 100 million people around the world. And at 15 percent market penetration right now, there are many more potential single for 2RedBeans to scoop up.

2RedBeans also has some brand-name supporters in its corner, with Match.com’s founder, Will Bunker, as an advisor to the company. It has also signed an exclusive partnership with three popular Chinese dating shows for their U.S. productions and events.

The company was founded in 2010 by Zhao and Jeff Shi, although Shi has since stepped away.


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