We spoke with Bumble’s Head of Brand Alex Williamson on how the app is empowering women to make the first move.
What drew you to Bumble?
I think we were all tired of women being told they had to act or be a certain way in order to be desirable by the opposite sex. We should be able to unabashedly be ourselves and feel confident going after what we want in life. This will create a magnet effect, and the right people will be drawn to you. I wanted to help be part of a company with a mission to shake up the gender dynamics and to provide women with confidence to approach their lives in a different way.
What is the most exciting part of your job?
Knowing that I work for a company that is quite literally changing people’s lives. We believe that you become like the five people you surround yourself with, and our team gets to spend every day working for a platform that is connecting people with the most important relationships in their lives. We get to help people find a create meaningful relationships, and to become better versions of themselves through our community.
You helped Whitney Wolfe Herd launch Bumble. What qualities do you think make her successful as an entrepreneur?
Every quality about Whitney makes her successful as an entrepreneur. She’s detail-oriented, conscientious, disarmingly kind, intensely passionate, and the ultimate motivator. She moves with conviction and can inspire anyone to move with her. I’ve spent a lot of time with Whitney and I’ve met a lot of people, but I’ve never met anyone else whose brain operates like hers. It moves so quickly and she’s constantly thinking 15 steps ahead of everyone else (but she never makes anyone feel inferior for it). She is so enthusiastic that there’s almost a restlessness about her, because she’s so eager to put good into the world. And she’s so inquisitive. She asks everyone she meets 1000 questions and really listens to the answers. Whitney is a genuine person and a true genius, without an ego. She’s an absolute joy to be around. And she inspires everyone to think bigger and to be a better version of themselves. She’s infectious, her energy is contagious, and she’s hilarious. Yes, I fully appreciate how lucky I am to have her as a boss.
We get to help people find a create meaningful relationships, and to become better versions of themselves through our community.
I feel like there’s a stigma around dating apps. People often feel ashamed in admitting that’s how they meet people. Why shouldn’t people be ashamed?
When we launched Bumble back in December 2014, I think dating apps were a little more stigmatized and disempowering for women. Instead of feeling inspired, women were inundated with unwanted, often aggressive messages. It can honestly be reflective of dating in real life. In heteronormative relationships, women have quite literally been trained to give their power away to men immediately and to take a submissive role to their male counterparts. This felt unfair and antiquated. That’s why we launched Bumble – to change the narrative and to give women the power and I feel like the stigma around dating apps has really changed since we launched. Look – we are all busy, it seems everyone this day in age is wearing a dozen hats and juggling life. There’s zero shame in meeting someone while on your phone, you probably passed the person of your dreams in Whole Foods while you were checking Instagram anyway.
What has been the response to Bumble? How have you seen the brand grow over the past few years?
It’s hard for me to see an outsider’s view of Bumble because I’ve been attached to this brand since the beginning. When we first launched, we were so passionate about getting the word out that everyone around us called us “Bumble”. It blows me away when I hear people talking about Bumble or using it in public or when I mention Bumble in a conversation and people know exactly what it is and can explain to me what our mission is. People want to wear our merch and associate with our brand. We see videos all the time of weddings where the ministers mention that the couple met on Bumble. It’s amazing to be a part of a dating platform where users are actually proud to say they met on our app. Today, Bumble, the “female first” app with over 27 million users, connects people across dating, friendship and professional networking. No matter the type of relationship, women make the first move on Bumble. Bumble recognizes the importance of relationships and how crucial they are to a healthy, happy life. We’ve built our platform for introductions centered around kindness, respect, and equality – and our users play an important part in that. Bumble holds its users accountable for their actions and has zero tolerance for hate, aggression or bullying. Bumble is available in 144 countries. Since 2014, Bumble has facilitated over 440 million women-led first moves and over four billion messages sent. Bumble is free and available in the App Store and Google Play.
We’ve built our platform for introductions centered around kindness, respect, and equality…
How can someone use Bumble to empower themselves?
Okay so this is my favorite example of an empowered user, who happened to join our company in Germany. She said she downloaded Bumble, started swiping, and got a match. She made the first move and started a conversation with a man for the first time in her life and she said it created a ripple effect in her life because she began to act with confidence. She went to yoga and did a headstand — something she’d been trying to do for months. The point is, making the first move takes people out of their comfort zones, it’s different behavior than they are used to. But if you start to do it, you realize that the ideas that were once scary to you are actually quite easy if you just try. And you can empower yourself by taking control of your life and going after what you want. You don’t have to sit around and wait for someone else to start something, you can start a conversation. And for men (and I’m talking about heteronormative connections), they finally can sit back and not feel the pressure to be assertive — which often times leads to aggressive behavior. On Bumble, people treat each other with respect and define their own terms for dating. There’s never been a more empowered moment to meet people, in my opinion. And for business, users can forget about the gray area that often exists (sadly, we see this in the news everyday) between men and women in business. When a woman matches with a man, she makes the first move. The intentions are set from the beginning, so business meet-ups begin with complete professionalism.
How do you combat confidence issues, whether it’s walking up to a date or taking control in the business world?
Remind yourself that you have just as much right to be in the room as anyone else. And also remind yourself that opportunities are rare and sometimes you don’t get more than one chance to be in certain situations. You can shape your life, you don’t need someone else to do it for you, but you can ask for help, guidance and wisdom from people you admire to help you create the life of your dreams.
Remind yourself that you have just as much right to be in the room as anyone else.
What are some tips for women looking to make major moves in the business world?
Diversity in leadership is important because the more of it that you have, the more worldviews and opinions that help build a successful company. We want our brand and our company to be relatable to all walks of life in order to accomplish our mission — to challenge women’s roles and positions in relationships. We are short sighted if we don’t help encourage confidence in every woman’s life. Also, having a diverse leadership team prevents teams from being close-minded.
How should a business woman market herself in face-to-face contact?
By being willing, eager, and interested in learning. Everyone I’ve personally hired wowed me with persistence. They followed up, reached out in multiple ways, got my attention — but were also kind and respectful.
Diversity in leadership is important because the more of it that you have, the more worldviews and opinions that help build a successful company.
What characteristics do you think leaders possess that make them so successful?
You have to be a good listener, you have to be open and you have to be empathetic. I think good leaders surround themselves with people who are smarter than them and empower them to become confident in their choices. I also think good leaders aren’t possessive of accomplishments or precious with their time or their work. On a team, everyone is in it together. Wins should be celebrated and handed to the team, never owned by one person.
PHOTOS KRISTEN KILPATRICK
STORY ELIZABETH STAFFORD
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ANNA ZHANG
Read more in Volume III, Issue No. 002 – Spring 2018.1 Love