Whitney Wolfe has three loves: her work as the founder of dating app Bumble (which has changed the way women approach the online dating scene, and she has the emails to prove it), her three dogs (two great Danes and one golden Lab), and skin care. In fact, she is happy to confess that she spends 45 minutes on her nightly routine, which involves no less than 30 products.
When it comes to the app—which Wolfe launched in 2014 after co-founding and leaving her biggest competition, the hugely recognized and often criticized Tinder—Wolfe’s message is clear: women have all the power. Bumble is, in essence, the same dating app that you’ve used before, except that women can send a message first (and she only has 24 hours to do so). Consider it the same as spotting a cute guy in a bar (or hiking Runyon Canyon, surfing in Tulum, or making you an almond milk cappuccino at your local coffee shop), locking eyes with him, smiling, and having the confidence—or in this case, the easy tool— to go up and say “hi” first. “When I started the app, my objective was—and still is—to make women feel comfortable and confident. I didn’t like that our society works to make women feel powerful and confident in the workplace and in their daily lives, but when it comes to dating and relationships, the message is that they shouldn’t be too forward or sleep around or approach dating the same way that men can,” explains Wolfe. “It creates this unfortunate and destructive society, not only for millennials, but for the whole dating community. So that was my big issue with it. In my personal life I’m so confident, but when it came to dating I always felt like a piece of meat, which became this weird, back handed, never ending cycle of bad. So I wanted to create a platform that says BS on that expectation.”
Hence, Bumble was born. While Wolfe drew on her experiences from her time at Tinder to create the app, she also looked back to her own relationship dramas. “I’m extremely fortunate in the fact that I have a wonderful boyfriend who is very pro-women, and is all about women being treated with respect,” says Wolfe. The pair met the old fashioned way though, when he clipped the back of her ski’s while the pair were skiing in Aspen. “He had a lot to do with the psychology of Bumble and taught me how screwed up some of my past relationships were,” explains Wolfe. “I know from first hand experiences and the emails I now get, that women weren’t receiving the same treatment in the dating game as men.”
Wolfe’s approach to dating though, seems more like what you’d expect from your pretty, confident, popular-with-everyone older sister. Not only is she beautiful and chic, but she doesn’t shy away from how awkward the dating scene is, “no matter how often you’ve chatted on the app, it’s always awkward when you meet someone in real life,” she says. When chatting with the golden-haired founder it’s easy to imagine that she’s definitely the go-to source for her girlfriends when it comes to dating advice. Her online Bumble community only clarifies how true it is, with hundreds of emails poring in to Wolfe’s inbox (she gets over 1200 emails per day), about how the app has changed their dating experiences and made women more confident. “I even had a guy write to me thanking me for introducing the app,” she says. “He talked about how he was a really sensitive guy, but he felt like he had to be this macho man because that’s what society expected of him. But through Bumble, he felt like he could be more himself and open up, showing his sensitive side.”
In a world where communication, technology, almost weekly tech updates and lightning fast innovations jostle to co-exist with real life situations such as dating, romance, women’s issues, politics and simply existing, Wolfe’s message is one of positivity and encouragement. After all, before beginning Bumble she was all set to launch an app called “Merci,” which focused on positivity and kindness, a place where women could go to experience positive online behavior. She also promotes girl power within—most of the people who work on Bumble are women—which is somewhat of a tech world anomaly. But as Wolfe says—and proves every day— Bumble forces you to own it.
By Tara Lamont-Djite for Semaine