Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder of the popular dating app Bumble, discusses her challenging journey to taking the app where it is now and encapsulates all that Bumble currently has and everything that is in development in an e-conversation with Utsavi Jha.
“ It’s difficult to brush things off when people are saying such nasty things a bout you. I wish I had the resilience I have now then. ”
Exhibit: Can you trace the journey of how you came up with the idea of starting Bumble?
Whitney Wolfe Herd: Bumble came about in 2014 as I was working on developing a social network for young women where only positivity and compliments were allowed. I reconnected with my now business partner, and he loved my concept, but said I needed to apply my idea to dating. I’d previously co-founded Tinder, and wasn’t really interested in working in the dating app field again. But I kept discussing it, and it wasn’t long before I was convinced to make the jump. I came up with the idea of “women making the first move,” which means that only women can send the first message on Bumble. Both parties must then respond within 24 hours or the match expires. From that idea, I created the brand and product vision, then we hit the ground running in December of that year. I started with a small team of three other women, and we worked remotely until Bumble launched. We then worked out of a small apartment in downtown Austin until August 2017, when we officially moved into our headquarters in Austin. We now have about 40 employees in Austin and about 80 employees globally.
Exhibit: Bumble has a unique proposition because it not only targets dating but also building friendships, business networks and unique collaborations. Can you elaborate on that?
Launched in 2014, Bumble Date was created to change the archaic rules of the dating so you can form meaningful relationships in a respectful way. As a social network rooted in promoting kindness, respect, and empowerment, Bumble is a safe place for people to look for love.
We heard from our users that they loved using Bumble to find friends, so we created a platform just for this in 2016. We often had requests for a friend-finding feature from users who were moving to new cities or on vacation. Bumble BFF is now the place where you can meet your new best friend, partner in crime, wing woman, workout partner, or anything else that strikes your fancy! BFF was the first step to expanding Bumble into a social networking app.
Launched in 2017, Bizz is Bumble’s fresh take on networking, with an emphasis on opportunity over job hunting. Bumble Bizz is the first to bring the “swiping” and “women first” experience to professional connecting. Users can instantly find others who are looking to network, connect professionally and mentor. Adding to Bumble’s vision of becoming the ultimate social network for people you don’t yet know, Bizz is powered by the notion that one connection can lead to the opportunity of a lifetime.
Exhibit: What hurdles did you have to overcome on your way to setting up Bumble? Was obtaining funding a problem?
When we were just launching Bumble, we heard no a lot. We heard “no, that will never work” and “no, women will never make the first move.” But we didn’t listen — I saw a problem in society that I wanted to change and I went after it with full force.
Exhibit: Do you have any plans of expansion in other countries? In India, especially?
Absolutely. We are expanding rapidly throughout Europe, and will be actively engaging in growing our brand into new territories throughout 2018, in particular the Nordic countries. India is a key market for us for varying reasons; but it’s always been important we launch in a way that was considered and appropriate for the market. This is something we take very seriously, and it’s imperative we do our due diligence from a research and consumer audit point of view prior to any formal launch. We already exist in India (the app is available on the App Store) but we look forward to investing in the market this year on a hyper local marketing level that really educates the communities on our brand USP in a way that is appropriate to cultural nuances.
Exhibit: Currently, we are witnessing a great boom worldwide with regards to the Startup scene. In your opinion, what are the must haves for any start up?
I think startups must find a social need. If you’re looking to start your own tech venture, find a gap! Technology is often developed to provide a more efficient way for individuals to go about their daily lives, so think about what would help you in your day to day. The reason I started Bumble was because I wanted a solution to the experience I went through and something that I could see many women face every day in their lives. So I built a product where only women could make the first move, and we built a brand that was built on foundations of female first, empowerment and respect. If you can identify the problem and find a way that technology can enable the solution, then you’re onto a winning formula.
“ I think startups must find a social need. If you’re looking to start your own tech venture, find a gap! ”
Exhibit: Seeing in hindsight, what would you have done differently?
To believe in myself no matter what. Before Bumble launched, I had lost that sense of belief. I was being attacked online and I started to believe what people had been saying about me. It really had a detrimental effect on my self-value and worth. Even though that situation ultimately fuelled my innate desire to create something that would stop this happening to other people, I had to go through a pretty tough road to get there. It’s difficult to brush things off when people are saying such nasty things about you. I wish I had the resilience I have now then.
Exhibit: What future do you envision for Bumble?
To be the ultimate social networking platform for the people you haven’t met yet.
- Your most useful gadget that’s not a smartphone or laptop?
- Favourite apps?
- Describe Bumble in a statement.
Bumble is the first app to introduce dating, networking and friend finding all in one platform.
- Tell us your Business Mantra.
Don’t take no for an answer, and, be nice or leave.