Online dating stats show a clear racial bias in how black men and black women are viewed as romantic partners. In general, those two groups are the lowest rated in terms of attraction, as a 2014 OkCupid study demonstrated.
Concerned about this obvious inequity, Jordan Kunzika, Brian Gerrard and Justin Gerrard created the mobile app Bae: Before Anyone Else in hopes of making the online dating experience better for African Americans, TechCrunch reports.
Kunzika, a first-generation Angolan American, was often the only black person in his computer science classes. Throughout his studies, the Dartmouth College senior, who is chief technology officer of Bae, noted that he had few role models of color to look up to, the site notes.
"I quickly realized that it was up to me to either let this negatively affect me or let it motivate me to be successful so that people who come after me will have role models who look like them," Kunzika said.
And so he reportedly turned down full-time job offers at Google and Microsoft, opting to put all his energy into Bae.
"I was honored to get full-time offers from Microsoft and Google before even turning 21, but I knew that I could serve a higher calling to represent a paradigm shift in what a tech entrepreneur could look like," Kunzika told TechCrunch.
Kunzika met brothers Brian and Justin Gerrard in his junior year, and after they pitched the idea to him, he quickly jumped on board.
“There was no place for black men and women to easily find fulfilling relationships online, so we decided to change that. Bae would allow me to disrupt tech because we are an all-black team and are solving a big problem that affects black people across the world," Kunzika said. According to TechCrunch, the app is listed as a top 50 lifestyle app in 20 African and Caribbean countries.
The entrepeneurs reportedly built the app by going directly to the source. They hosted an HBCU tour, made up of parties and mixers where people who matched on Bae could meet in person. Attendees had to download the app to participate. Because of the rather brilliant initiative, TechCrunch notes, within the first few weeks of the April 2015 launch, the app had 17,000 downloads. It has grown consistently since then.
According to the report, the trio now have their eyes set on Bae becoming the best black dating app in the U.S. and across the Diaspora. The team recently got accepted into Facebook’s FbStart Accelerate program and was chosen as one of a select group of companies to present at F8, Facebook’s developer conference. The team also won TechCrunch’s Brooklyn, N.Y., meetup and pitch-off, which ended up snagging them a table at the TechCrunch Disrupt NY conference.
Read more at TechCrunch.