Editor's pick Podcast

Bumble on innovating through kindness

Rachel Arthur and Louise Troen

Emotion holds huge value for modern business, says VP of international marketing and communications for Bumble, Louise Troen, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

Speaking to Rachel Arthur on-site at the British Fashion Council’s annual Fashion Forum in London, Troen says that while there is no shortage of entrepreneurs and incredible ideas, Bumble’s success is based on a very simple premise. “Often people turn around and say ‘what is the magic?’ And really it’s the fact that we built a business based on kindness,” she notes. “We really think that there is a value in a company that bases itself on fundamental values.”

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Bumble launched in 2012 as the antithesis to successful yet problematic dating apps that had been crowding the market with their models of placing men in charge of making the first move. From the get-go, founder Whitney Wolfe Herd wanted to create a platform where women could feel both empowered and protected.

This, paired with the notion of kindness, is particularly resonating at a time when movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp are taking hold. As a society there’s a shift in behaviour happening, Troen notes, which the business has always been focused on.

What’s been critical, she explains however, has been to do this with authenticity. Her advice to every other business in the space is to think about it in the same way – to question whether it is authentic to the brand to be taking a standpoint that is affecting the social agenda, or placing messages that are politically charged.

For Bumble, it’s working. Since launch, it has evolved into two new verticals – Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz – which similarly take the startup’s motto into other areas of their female users’ lives, in this case friendships and careers respectively. It now has a reported 22 million users across all services.

But this has only been made possible because users have helped the platform evolve, Troen explains. Her second piece of advice to brands is to give the product to real people and have them tell the story. “We do our focus groups and we can understand what they want from protection services, what they need feature-wise in the product, what they can see, and manage the algorithm based on feedback, as opposed to drafting a marketing plan set in stone 12 months in advance, which obviously will change within a month.”

Through this approach, the business is able to be nimble with its responses, evolving in time with its community and the broader societal conversations alongside.

Tune into the interview for a further deep dive with Troen on the importance of giving female users a voice, how the company’s consumer-facing values seep into its own office culture, and how Bumble is dreaming of global domination with its steady country-by-country rollout.

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

Editor's pick social media

#SXSW musings: is Tinder the next marketing opportunity?


You might remember Gap launched a micro-series on Instagram for the spring season. Tied to that for Valentine’s Day was a campaign on dating app Tinder that invited users to its “Pants Party” before offering 30% off denim styles.

What was intended as a fun, guerrilla marketing idea, quickly got nixed by the app for being an “unauthorised violation of its terms of service”.

It’s interesting this week then to see Tinder back in the spotlight from a marketing perspective, and this time at SXSW. Needless to say the app gets heavy usage at a festival that pulls in over 30,000 people, but those coming across a 25-year-old woman called Ava this weekend might have been sorely disappointed.

Ava is in fact a Swedish actress called Alicia Vikander who plays the role of an artificial intelligence in a new movie that premiered at the festival last night called Ex Machina. The whole campaign is done in an incredibly clever way, hinting at what it feels like to be a human as well as directing the user to Instagram where the actual ads for the film exist.

It’s a timely fit given artificial intelligence is emerging as one of the big trends from the event so far (heavily discussed in sessions on the one hand, while protested about outside the convention centre on the other). But it’s the usage of Tinder particularly that’s so genius.

We’re not suggesting brands should all place a fake profile on the platform to drive people to their content elsewhere, but certainly take inspiration from some outside of the box thinking related to an app that has so much relevance in daily consumer lives.

After all, while the social buzz at SXSW might be about live streaming app Meerkat, we guarantee you there are a greater number of people on the ground swiping through their Tinder matches day to day.

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