When a dating app is built around a mission to change societal conditioning, you know things are going to be different. Bumble is centered around female empowerment and, with that, trying to move past the old fairytale model (boy meets girl, who awaits him in her tower, to live happily ever after), as well as the stigma of online 'meat-markets' (boy, mainly after one thing, hunts for girl, who doesn’t have much control over the predatory nature of it all).
No, at Bumble, girls make the first move, as they are the only ones who can start a conversation after a match of mutual interest. Bumble keeps their standards (kindness, respect, equality, accountability) religiously high, handles a strict regime on safety and, as much as they want people to connect online, they stimulate you to meet offline. They are trying to rewrite the script, wondering who ever even wrote it.
In front of me sits bright-eyed Louise Troen, Vice President of International Marketing and Communications at Bumble. With this much enthusiasm about human connection, it’s hard not to believe in love, on- or offline. “We are nothing more than a platform to bring people together. We see ourselves as an enabler. We’re that middle piece between desire and human connection. That’s what inspires me to get up in the morning.”
Do you ever come across any resistance from people because of the fact that what you do is digital?
Of course! There is still a lot of skepticism around dating online. I think that’s for two reasons. The first is the traditional concept of romance, which is built around fate and serendipity and impulsive, spontaneous behavior. When you put that in digital form, people can feel like it’s being compromised. The other reason is the safety part. It’s our job as a brand to reeducate people on dating apps. The stigma doesn’t need to be there. That romance and serendipity can still happen; it’s just that we help with the first step.
What is your biggest motivation doing what you do?
I’ve had faith in dating apps for a long, long time, because, and I really believe this, all humans want is connection. Whether it’s meeting a new best friend or meeting a woman that inspires you from a business point of view or having eye contact a guy in a restaurant, I think those moments are what makes life worth living for, those moments of heightened sensitivity. What we’ve done with Bumble, and what we hope to continue, is to increase that likelihood for people to connect.
Are any of your friends on the app?
All of my friends who are single are on the app, firstly (laughing) because of me, but mainly because most of my friends are successful, busy women. They want to feel they have a trusted place where they can connect. Some of our competitors, when you go into their ecosystems, you'll never know what the outcome is going to be... But because we’re so strict on our values and expectations, I think the likelihood of meeting someone good is a lot higher.
Speaking of something like the law of attraction, do you think a digital app could interfere in that?
For me, it all comes down to energy. I believe in behavior and that the attitude you give out, you get back. For myself, I try to do five positive things every day. I think there is so much negativity in the world today, but then when you see a connection happening… I get such a high from that. That chemistry is all down to your energy, and this is what is so brilliant about love. It’s un-programmable, so when people ask me if dating apps are going to ruin romance, I just don’t think that can happen. Just because of the way humans are.
And because of the way love is... Probably. So how do you translate this subjective reality to a digital format?
People are attracted to each other based on different things, and you can't always pinpoint what they are, but I do believe that when two people meet there is chemistry or an energy that is undeniable. That’s why we encourage people to meet offline as quickly as possible to identify if it’s there. That’s what makes this job so fun; we have an irrational concept of love, and then we have a facilitator that can get you closer to it. That’s how I see the product. As individuals we try and control everything, but love is the only thing we can not control. If I can enable more people to come together, that’s just an incredible gift.
Do you find it hard sometimes to keep your heart open with such a fast paced work life?
That’s something I’m still learning, to be honest with you. It’s difficult when you are this emotionally invested in a company and its people, and then you have to make business decisions where you need to park emotion. The one thing I do know is that respect is really important, so even if you’re making challenging decisions, make sure that you’re doing them in a way that is still respectful to the individual, their feelings and their point of view. I will never go into a situation, no matter how challenging, in a ruthless or unkind way. That’s helped, to have that attitude, and also I think listening to your body and learning to say no. That’s a big one for me this year.
With so much love happening in your work life, how is your own love life?
Currently I'm not seeing anyone. I think as a woman who has a leading job, it should be okay to step back and say, this is my priority, and I’m happy. Sometimes in life you have to focus all your energy on certain things. I’m not worried about love. It will come, but right now, I am just focusing all of my energy on this, and I don’t think it would be fair of me to go into a relationship with the amount of commitment I am already giving to my job. And I wake up every morning so happy with what I do.
Working as much as you do, you must have some strong self care tools...
I have various different tools, depending on where I’m at. Sometimes I need to run 10k and listen to old school hip-hop, and that will make me feel empowered. Then other times, when I have a lot of plates that I’m spinning, I go to yoga or go to a meditation class. And then other times, I need to go out until 5 AM and dance on a table. I think that’s fine to have different types of release. I think there’s a lot of pressure these days to be the perfect, zen person, but life is about balance for me. One day I’ll be drinking juice, the next day I’m up in the club, and I think that is what makes me happy.
And how big a part are health and nutrition of your routine?
I’m quite lucky that I like healthy food. Most people, when they’re hungover, want pizza. I just want sushi. I’ve also always been quite sporty; I need to do sports as part of my temperament. And I try and eat a balanced diet, but the challenge is when you go out. I go out for dinners a lot, so (mumbling to herself) I might need to stop drinking so much wine... but also half of me feels like life is just for living! And for the sake of half a stone, I’d rather be happy with my wine.
Have you been to the Juicery yet?
Yes! I think it’s amazing. What I love most is that you’re rebranding health, making it cool and sexy. Greenery used to be boring and something people thought they just needed to do, and you’ve just added sex appeal and a cool-factor. Now people are eating and drinking healthier. From a physical point of view, I really agree that you are what you eat, and the better you eat, the better you feel. Our bodies are like machines; they have to be well-oiled and taken care of, unplugged when tired, recharged when they need to be recharged. You can’t go out for six nights on the trot, eat badly and expect to not shut down.
Any advice for people looking for a life as fulfilling as yours?
Sometimes you don’t even know what your purpose is until you’re in it. People can be so caught up in finding their calling in life, and my advice would be to follow what gets you excited, listen to your body, your mind and go after the things that stimulate you. Go after those, and things will always work out.
Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of the app, gave her this position, saying, “When you talk, you are Bumble.” Looking at Louise, with this vibrancy and liveliness and bubbly personality, we see how that happened. And we just couldn’t agree more.