Swedish woman develops dating app in Vietnam

Denise Sandquist has created the popular dating app “Fika” who has 150.000 active users in Vietnam – Photo: Karsten Dang

Denise Sandquist got the idea for the dating app “Fika” when she was looking for her biological mother in Vietnam. The app was introduced in Vietnam at the end of last year and has already been downloaded 760.000 times. Now FIKA has received investments from VNV Global and Voi founders Frederik Hjelm and Keith Richman.

It was the experience of looking for her biological mother in Vietnam that gave Denise the idea of creating a dating app that would make it possible for people who belong together to meet.

“There is a big pressure on women in Asia to find a partner early on, meanwhile it is not really socially acceptable to use dating apps,” Denise Sandquist says.

Denise wanted to change that with Fika. The goal is for women to feel safe when being proactive with dating through apps. At the same time, Asian women typically won’t take the first step and write a potential date which is the way that the American dating app Bumble works as an example.

Today the app has 150.000 active users every month. The primary market is in Vietnam, but it has also been acquired thousands of times in other countries.

40 percent of the user are women and Fika has manual verification of all users.

“We only approved 60 percent of the signups and our vision is to be a safe dating platform for everyone. Both boys and girls, but especially girls, feels unsafe when using a dating app”

Security is an important feature of the user experience and something Fika wants to promote itself by. Another feature is authenticity.

“We have a campaign right now called “real is better than perfect”, in which we urge our users to be themselves to find a partner that’s more right for them,” Denise says.

These ideas have been good, and Fika has received several investments from big names.

The search for Denise’s mother.

When Denise was 22 years old she decided to go to Vietnam and look for her biological mother. She backpacked through the country and visited the hospital where she was born but they didn’t have any information about her mother.

Denise then went to China to learn mandarin and after that, she went back to attend Stockholm School of Economics. It was on this school she met her business partner and co-founder of Fika, Oscar Xing Luo.

However, Denise never gave up hope of finding her mother in Vietnam. In 2016 she went back to Vietnam for an internship and during this, she posted a text about how she was looking for her mother on Facebook. It quickly spread on social media and Denise was interviewed for newspapers, TV, and podcasts. It took 18 days and then Denise finally heard from her mother.

About Lasse Sandholdt

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

View all posts by Lasse Sandholdt

2 Comments on “Swedish woman develops dating app in Vietnam”

  1. Firstly, in every interview she had, she always stated that she is fluent in Vietnamese.
    But have you people heard her speaking Vietnamese?

    As a native Vietnamese speaker myself, I can tell you guys that her Vietnamese is nowhere to be fluent. Far away from it.
    She knows basic Vietnamese yes, but thats basically it. Her pronounciation, her grammar, her accent, everything is way off.
    Im giving her Vietnamese 1 star out of 5 stars, because it is way too difficult to understand her in a normal conversation.

    Secondly, her ambition to dethrone Tinder, Im sorry, I dont know if shes joking or not.
    But, whats so special about Fika?
    I’ve seen tens of different datingapps come and goes. They failed because these apps are just a copy of Tinder, no creativity, no originality.

    This is what Fika is, why would people chose Fika with only a few hundreds/thousands of users? Why should people chose Fika where their GUI is almost identical too other datingapps?

    I think Fika will fail like every other dating apps, Tinder will remain the biggest one.

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