On the 11th February 31 year-old Whitney Wolfe Herd became the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire when the company she founded just over six years ago, Bumble Inc., floated on the US NASDAQ exchange.
Shares in the online dating app and networking site closed above $70, after listing at $43, valuing the company at over £8bn.
I think at least three important ingredients underpin Wolfe Herd’s success.
First, she launched a mission not a business. From the very beginning Bumble focused on levelling the playing field in the world of online dating, empowering women by only making it possible for them to make the first approach to potential dates. This brought with it the appeal of providing the app’s users with a sense of safety and security lacking on other dating sites.
The fact that Wolfe Herd had left her previous employer, Tinder, acrimoniously and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the company for sexual harassment provided a compelling backstory to the launch of the new business.
Secondly, Wolfe Herd had a clear idea of her target market. Superficially it could be argued that her genius was in spotting the opportunity to focus her app on women, and this clearly plays an important part in the proposition. But I think the key was recognising that the focus would also appeal to a certain type of man as well. Possibly easy to say with hindsight, probably less obvious six years ago, but were it not for this, Bumble would effectively be a gay dating app.
Thirdly, backed by the Bumble mission, the company has diversified into a platform where women (and men) can find friends (Bumble BFF), network for business opportunities (Bumble Bizz) and receive lifestyle guidance. This builds loyalty and opens up the platform to additional subscribers.
But for all of the above, it’s refreshing to know that the one piece of advice Wolfe Herd wishes she had had when she started her business career was “to not take herself too seriously.” (Source: bbc.co.uk) Hear, hear!