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Apps / Business development / Social media / Startups / Workplace culture

Bumble COO: ‘If you don’t control the brand, consumers will do that for you’

Why strong branding allowed the social networking app to expand its business offerings, as explained by Sarah Jones Simmer at a recent event hosted by Accel and Philly Startup Leaders.

Bumble COO Sarah Jones Simmer (left) talks branding. (Photo by Paige Gross)

As with dating, it’s important for companies to give potential customers an accurate first impression of their MO.

At a Thursday evening event hosted by venture capital firm Accel and Philly Startup Leaders, Bumble’s COO, Sarah Jones Simmer, talked branding and knowing how to solve a problem with your startup.

The social networking app, developed as a dating app garnered at women users, now has features like Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz. Jones Simmer said that founder Whitney Wolfe Herd was a cofounder at dating app Tinder, but realized there was a lot to be desired for many female users.

“No one had really thought about, ‘How do we create the same ecosystem with women in mind?'” Jones Simmer said of Bumble’s creation. (The biggest differentiator between the apps: Women must message first.)

Jones Simmer joined the Austin-based company in 2017 and said that she really got on board with Wolfe Herd’s mission to build a “more humble and friendly” place on the internet.

One of the biggest lessons they learned early on, Jones Simmer said, was that if they didn’t work extra hard on nailing their brand, a lot more would be lost in the process.

“If you don’t control the brand, consumers will do that for you,” she said.

And the strong Bumble brand — being known as a safe place where women could be in control of their connections — eventually created the ability for the company to create the friendship and networking facets of the business, Jones Simmer said.

Being able to pull that off also required the right team members — and getting the right workers meant that Bumble’s office culture had to be flexible for women and parents. Leadership spent a great deal of time considering how to create the type of workforce they wanted to retain, she said.

And when it comes to knowing you have the right market fit?

“You really have to set out to solve the problem you want to solve,” she said. “You have to know in your gut that you’re solving a problem that you have and that many other people have.”

Companies: Philly Startup Leaders

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