5 Lessons from Whitney Wolfe Herd of Bumble

On seeding curiosity, obsessing over brand, and more

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It goes on and on.

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5 Lessons from Whitney Wolfe Herd

In the sixth installment of my 5 Lessons series, we have Whitney Wolfe Herd, co-founder of Bumble.

I wrote a deep dive into Whitney’s story back in May 2023 and today I’m sharing some lessons from her journey.

1. Seed Curiosity

Especially to acquire customers in the early days.

I remember we would make these signs that had the big X's, you know like you're not allowed to, and they said, “No Facebook, no Instagram, no Snapchat, no Bumble.”

This was week three of bumble and we would post those all over the universities so there was this association where it was, “Wait, I can't do the things I really want to do. I want to sit in class and Snapchat. I want to sit in class and Instagram. What the hell is Bumble?” And so we were essentially seeding this psychological curiosity.

Then we were actually sending young women wearing Bumble shirts into classes 10 or 15 minutes late interrupting a class of 300 people and saying, “Oh sorry, wrong room,” but everyone's looking at this young woman or young man, whoever it was, wearing a Bumble t-shirt, so we were seeding curiosity in this, “Why is Bumble everywhere?” type of thing.

And so a lot of people think, “I can just go start an app and I'll just buy some Instagram ads and I'll just be successful,” but if people only knew the fraction of the insane everyday little hacks that I did and our team did to bring this to life.

Whitney Wolfe Herd

2. Obsess Over Brand

And find ways to stand out.

It was not until all of these really cute catch phrases started coming up, people on our team and friends were asking what do you think about this name or this name or this name.

All of a sudden, these catch phrases were coming up like, “Be the queen bee of Bumble. Find your honey on Bumble.”

It was in that moment that we said, okay, this is it. This is brandability. This is how you brand something. That was it. Off to the races we went.

Whitney Wolfe Herd

Details matter.

I was obsessed with every little detail of the branding on day one because that stuff matters, it’s like the code of its existence for the next however many, hopefully, dozens and dozens of years to follow.

Whitney Wolfe Herd

3. Invest Extra Time Into Your Team

The extra little investments compound.

The best thing I’ve ever invested into is time and dedication into my team at Bumble. That’s 100 percent the best thing I’ve ever invested in.

It’s been such a dedicated effort over the last 3.5 years, but really investing that extra hour or that extra day or that extra thought or that extra get to know someone.

That’s the stuff that counts the most because, when you do that, you instill more than just a job opportunity. You give more than just an opening at a company. You leave them with the same values and the mission becomes engrained in them. And they’re able to do their job in a way that is almost immune to competition because they’re so on the same page with why you started the company to begin with.

Whitney Wolfe Herd

4. Bring Solutions

Set the expectations for your team.

What I’ve told the team, and what the team has really learned, and they do it on their own, which is amazing, if you have a problem, please don’t come talk to me about it unless you have a suggested solution.

I can’t just listen to problems. Come with two potential solutions. Like, “Hey, Whitney, we’ve got a huge issue. This situation has completely crumbled, and we’re committed to this or whatever happened. My suggested solution is either A) we do X, Y, and Z, or B) we could do this. Here are the consequences of both. This is what is going to happen in each scenario.”

Then we can talk through that. And it goes to show that someone has actually thought through the other side of the fire. How do we get out of here? What’s the exit strategy? Not just oh, we were in a fire.

Whitney Wolfe Herd

5. Keep Doing Good Work

A way to deal with anxiety.

It definitely has become a handicap, at points. But I would say 85 percent of the time, it’s a fuel. And, actually, back to the doctor talk, my doctor said something really interesting to me. It’s something that stuck with me.

I said to him one day, “I don’t know if I can deal with this anymore. My anxiety is just so extreme. It’s paralyzing me, at certain points. Do I need to get on a medicine? Do I need to be medicated for this?” And he responded, “Just keep doing good work. It will recalibrate the way you feel.”

When I thought through that, I was like, “If I can channel this energy and this anxiety into doing good work, meaning work that affects others in a positive way, it genuinely works.”

Whitney Wolfe Herd

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