54 min

Denise Sandquist - The Hottest Dating App in Vietnam (Fika‪)‬ Not From Silicon Valley

    • Entrepreneurship

There are stories.



And then there are stories.



And for Denise Sandquist, her story could - and should - be chronicled in a movie.



We start with Denise's "gap year" -- that is, the year some 18-year-olds spend between graduating high school and starting university.



Most backpack Europe or Southeast Asia...or volunteer...or intern. But Denise?



Her gap year was...a 5-year gap year, where she:




Went to spy school and learned Russian
Lived in Moscow for 1.5 years working at the Swedish Embassy
Moved to Vietnam in search of her biological mother that she had never met
Studied in China for 3 semesters to learn Mandarin
Spent time in Thailand learning how to kickbox and then won a fight night contest against an opponent with 50 victories under belt



Like I said...could - and should! - be a movie.



And so finally, in 2014, Denise - at 24 - enrolled in university in Sweden, only to return to Vietnam in 2016 - again, in search of her biological mother.



And one Facebook post and 18 days later...she found her.



For Denise? It was an indication of the power of the internet...the lesson that social media doesn't always have to push people apart, but instead, can bring them together.



And so graduating two years later in 2018, Denise founded Fika in early 2020: a localized dating app for the Vietnamese, Southeast Asian, and East Asian markets, that - already! - has nearly 1 MILLION downloads and some incredibly novel features, like personality tests and a couples mood that gamifies relationships.



And to grow this fast...this quick in Vietnam?



I think you'll agree quite quickly it's a feat...only Denise would be capable of.



Her story:

There are stories.



And then there are stories.



And for Denise Sandquist, her story could - and should - be chronicled in a movie.



We start with Denise's "gap year" -- that is, the year some 18-year-olds spend between graduating high school and starting university.



Most backpack Europe or Southeast Asia...or volunteer...or intern. But Denise?



Her gap year was...a 5-year gap year, where she:




Went to spy school and learned Russian
Lived in Moscow for 1.5 years working at the Swedish Embassy
Moved to Vietnam in search of her biological mother that she had never met
Studied in China for 3 semesters to learn Mandarin
Spent time in Thailand learning how to kickbox and then won a fight night contest against an opponent with 50 victories under belt



Like I said...could - and should! - be a movie.



And so finally, in 2014, Denise - at 24 - enrolled in university in Sweden, only to return to Vietnam in 2016 - again, in search of her biological mother.



And one Facebook post and 18 days later...she found her.



For Denise? It was an indication of the power of the internet...the lesson that social media doesn't always have to push people apart, but instead, can bring them together.



And so graduating two years later in 2018, Denise founded Fika in early 2020: a localized dating app for the Vietnamese, Southeast Asian, and East Asian markets, that - already! - has nearly 1 MILLION downloads and some incredibly novel features, like personality tests and a couples mood that gamifies relationships.



And to grow this fast...this quick in Vietnam?



I think you'll agree quite quickly it's a feat...only Denise would be capable of.



Her story:

54 min