Chinese-Americans chase love online
This Valentines Day, many romantics found dates through 2RedBeans, an online dating service focused on matching Chinese - Americans.
"I met her 6 months ago through 2RedBeans and I felt a growing chemistry throughout our conversations," says Li, a Chinese-American who works for a high-tech company in Silicon Valley and declines to give his first time. "I was already in love with her before I even set eyes on her."
"I was skeptical at first about using a dating website to find love," he says, adding that he had no prior experience with online dating. "I'm so glad I gave it a try."
Now, they have officially been a couple for three months, and Li said he is confident about his new relationship.
More and more people are finding love online. Even Zhao Qinghua, the founder of 2RedBeans, met her future husband on the website she established to help Chinese-American singles find love.
Zhao, who has a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of California-San Diego, started her entrepreneurial endeavor after working at Broadcom as a software engineer.
"Like many entrepreneurs, I started 2RedBeans with my friends to solve our own problems, finding dates that could lead to a life partner," Zhao says.
Zhao said it was difficult to meet other people with similar cultural backgrounds and values.
"Since popular US dating sites like Match.com and eHarmony are not focused on matching Chinese-Americans, it is often hard for us to find people who have the same cultural values," she says.
In contrast, 2RedBeans' matching algorithm focused on characteristics that are more relevant to the Chinese, such as arrival date in the US and zodiac signs.
Zhao and her team also decided to make the site very interactive to encourage people to communicate with each other early on.
"Chinese by nature are very shy, which decreases their opportunities to meet other people," she explains. "We try our best to increase the interaction and in turn to increase their chances of finding someone."
Over the past three years, the website has hosted more than 200 offline dating activities across North America. On Valentine's Day, it held singles parties in cities including Washington DC, New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Vancouver.
A partner with China's popular dating show If You Are The One, the dating website assisted on the 2012 North American special episode. 2RedBeans is now the co-organizer of the 2014 US edition of One Out of a Hundred, another popular Chinese matchmaking show hosted by Shanghai Dragon TV.
"The US edition of the show One Out of a Hundred is intended not just to be a dating show, but also a window for people in China to have a peek into the lives of people in the US, their value systems, their criteria for a mate, and their lifestyle," Zhao explains.
"In only 10 days, we've already had more than 290 applicants to the show, including actresses, engineers, professors, real estate agents, many amazing singles," she adds.
As the largest Chinese dating site in North America, 2RedBeans has more than 200,000 registered users. Zhao expects 2RedBeans will grow and saturate the US and Canadian market in 2014, adding it will then be expanding to other countries where there are many Chinese immigrants.
"We are pushing out our mobile apps so that singles can get access to other singles on the go. We are also working on something that can bring singles offline to meet each other quickly," she says.
As for the total number of 2RedBeans matches that lead to marriage, Zhao said the conservative estimate is at least one couple per day. "For matches that become girlfriend or boyfriend, I'd imagine that's a much larger number," she adds.