Changing the way we date and shifting the power dynamics between men and women, those are just two of the issues that Whitney Wolfe, founder and CEO of Bumble wanted to address when she launched her dating app that requires women to make the first move.
“One of the biggest challenges has been rewiring people's opinions on women making the first move,” shares Whitney, an experience that challenged her more times than she can count. But she’s made the female-led approach work, exclaiming that “well over a billion messages,” have been shared on the app that boasts over 10 million users.
Whitney has made about every list and for good reason. She’s a game-changer, a rule-breaker, and an industry dominator in a male-dominated field. Dating startups are notoriously hard to grow and the new-kid-on-the-dating-block is always around the corner. But Whitney and her team have maintained their foothold, launching BumbleBFF where women can find friends and colleagues. In short, she’s an inspiration for young entrepreneurs everywhere, not just women. And at 27, she’s only getting started. Up next on her list: disrupting health tech.
How has your experience being a woman in tech changed since you first launched Bumble?
I had to grow a thick skin early on, and I had to realize that if you're lucky, people will underestimate you. No better way to debunk stereotypes than proving the archaic thinkers wrong. Supporting one another, and truly helping one another as women, with NO expectation of anything in return is going to propel the next generation of girls and women forward.
What are some of the challenges you've encountered along the way?
The list is too long. Sometimes the hardest things to break are bad habits, and women assuming men need to be in control is most certainly something that needed disrupting!
So, what keeps you going?
Changing the way relationships work and putting women in control to finally feel equal to the man. My team, their passion. The amazing stories that come from the millions and millions of connections we're making!
Who are the people you consider your mentors or influences and why?
My business partner, Andrey, is most certainly my mentor, he's beyond brilliant and talented. My fiancé is my rock and sees things in a visionary way and gives me a lot of perspective.
What is the best piece of "real talk" advice you've received?
Snap out of it! It always looks better in the morning
What is your favorite life advice?
Be kind to everyone, because every single human on this planet is fighting a battle we know nothing about. There is nothing more important than motiveless kindness.
What is a time in your life when you thought, 'I can't do this anymore?'
I can count them on one hand, and I always in that moment, knew change needed to happen. And I went out and found and created that change. You have to listen to your gut, always.
What's next? What are your five year goals for Bumble? How do you continue to build community that's empowering?
I want to build Bumble into the Facebook for people you don't yet know, and I want Bumble to become a leading lifestyle brand both online and offline for all your introductions, with women always making the first move. Woman making the first move into the good, and out of the bad has the power to change the world.
What's on your career bucket list?
To be involved in disruptive health tech.
What does female empowerment mean to you?
It means confidence, being happy for women in a genuine way, and being equal to the man. It means never feeling inferior.
What do you do to support other women either personally or professionally?
I try to help with both personal and professional advice, investments, and for the good or the bad, snapping women out of it when they're stuck in bad relationships or ruts. One of my goals in 2017 is to do more, and to be a better mentor to more women. I've been so busy trying to build a company to empower women, that my personal capacity has been limited and I hope to have some spare time to devote to this.
Women have the power to:
Do anything. They are the power.