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I gave up on dating apps

The time was July 2017. Andy and I decided to quit our jobs, sell Lily’s Creperie – a restaurant we co-owned with another friend, and moved to Japan/Taiwan to start a tech company. He thought I was crazy, but still jumped on the idea anyway.


Now with our new found freedom, we started traveling like crazy – Hong Kong, Macau, Germany, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Taiwan, Japan… We used Airbnb from time to time, but felt like there was something missing. We wanted not only lodging, but also a place where we could interact with our host and the locals. So we came up with this homestay idea, where it’s like a paid version of Couchsurfing, combined with the host taking you around some local places. Soon enough however, Airbnb launched the “experiences” product and started marketing it big. We couldn’t think of a competitive advantage to differentiate ourselves, so we called it off.


Forward to November of the same year, it had been 4 years since my last relationship ended. I figured I should give dating apps another try. Not that I didn’t use any when I was in the Bay Area, but in the three years that I was there, the success rate was just so disappointingly low that I had completely given up. If you had ever lived in the Bay Area, you would know that the odds of winning a lottery could sometimes be much higher than finding a girlfriend there for a heterosexual man.


So I started using dating apps left and right, including Tinder, Hinge, Happn, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, OKCupid, Once, Pairs and Paktor. While it was pretty fun for a while, catching up on my dating quota in the three year blank, it soon became exhausting. I realized that I spent more time on the apps than actually going on dates. I texted a lot without seeing dates in person. And sometimes when they showed up, they looked or acted completely different from what I had imagined. In the end, I just gave up on the apps, and resorted back to traditional dating – meeting people through parties or via friends.


If even a hyper-extrovert like me (having scored 90% on extroversion in the Myers–Briggs 16 personalities test by Neris Analytics) felt drained by these apps, other people sure had experienced the same things too. This was when the idea struck me – “what if we do video dating?”

Not only would you have the chance to talk to people you would not otherwise have met, but you would also get real and personal experiences. No more disappointment, no more wasting time texting, no more fake profiles, no more bots, no more catfish, no more trying to trick the apps’ algorithms. You see your dates as they are. You talk to them for 3 minutes. If you like each other, then you will most likely go on a real date since you have already seen them over video.
Obviously, video dating exposes users to even bigger risks of seeing unsolicited sexual content, but that is a problem shared by online and even offline dating. For now, we will keep dreaming big and we will continue working our butts off to bring you meaningful connections via StepUp.
Kenneth Chen

Kenneth Chen

StepUp's co-founder and heavy dating app addict. Lived in the United States, Japan, Korea, France and Taiwan. Worked as a data analyst at a fintech startup in California, while co-owning a french crepe café. Eventually quit his job and sold the creperie to make StepUp with the hopes to make online dating more personal and efficient.

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