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Bumble CEO’s Remarkable $20 ‘Crazy Hacks’

Back in the early days of Bumble, CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd adopted a scrappy approach to marketing, using unconventional and cost-effective methods to promote the dating app. With a modest budget, Wolfe Herd avoided traditional marketing campaigns and instead implemented a series of “crazy hacks” to generate interest in the Austin-based startup. One notable tactic involved collaborating with a cookie shop, where she paid bakers $20 to decorate yellow-frosted cookies with a white Bumble logo. These cookies were then delivered to a nearby college sorority, along with other gifts, such as balloons, koozies, and branded undergarments, in exchange for downloading and sharing the app.

A similar approach was taken with college fraternities, where Wolfe Herd delivered pizzas with branded bumblebee stickers on the boxes. The goal was to create a buzz around the app within college communities. Despite having limited marketing dollars, the unconventional strategies proved successful, creating a snowball effect as sorority and fraternity members began downloading and using the app.

When faced with challenges, such as rejection from some investors who doubted the app’s viability, Wolfe Herd remained resilient. She reframed negative feedback and rejection as opportunities for excitement and motivation. This mindset, combined with her belief in the app’s unique approach (women initiating conversations), fueled her determination.

Bumble, launched in December 2014 with $10 million in funding, has since evolved into a significant player in the online dating industry. Wolfe Herd’s unconventional and scrappy marketing approach in the early days contributed to the app’s success. Seven years after the launch, Wolfe Herd made history as the youngest female founder to take a company public, with Bumble Inc. currently having a market capitalization of $1.91 billion. The journey from unconventional marketing hacks to a publicly traded company highlights the entrepreneurial spirit and resilience that Wolfe Herd brought to the dating app landscape.

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