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From Launch to IPO: How Whitney Wolfe Herd became the youngest woman CEO to take a company public

Wolfe Herd founded BMBL in 2014 with the vision to disrupt dating apps by putting women in the driver's seat, empowering them to make the first move in building connections.


Earlier this year, Whitney Wolfe Herd, the Founder and CEO of Bumble (NASDAQ: BMBL) made history when she became the youngest woman CEO, at age 31, to take a company public. Wolfe Herd founded BMBL in 2014 with the vision to disrupt dating apps by putting women in the driver’s seat, empowering them to make the first move in building connections. She knows firsthand the opportunities, challenges, and surprises that come with building a revolutionary company, and in a recent Public.com Town Hall, she shared the lessons she’s learned along the way with retail investors.

- Public.com

The below is excerpted from Wolfe Herd’s Public Town Hall, which can be viewed in full here.

Believe in your idea, even if others tell you it’s “crazy.”

Wolfe Herd told retail investors that the greatest challenge BMBL faced early on was pushback from others.

“So many said a woman wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, make the first move and that our idea was crazy. That level of doubt and scrutiny wasn’t easy but we knew other women wanted something different, something that gave them control over the relationships in their life. Nearly 2 billion first moves made by women later, it’s safe to say others agreed with our approach.”

Since then, BMBL’s success has been clear. “It was always about solving the problem that I shared with so many other women. We wanted to be treated as equals in our relationships and we were tired of the status quo that placed women second to men.”

Creating a diverse culture — both within your company and community — is key.

Many retail investors were curious how BMBL thinks about diversity and inclusion.

“DEI is a top priority and is the responsibility of every single team member at Bumble Inc. It’s fundamental to how we work, how we hire and how we build our products,” Wolfe Herd said. “We’re pleased with having a majority women executive team and board, but that’s just the beginning and we’re aware of the work we have to do.”

Wolfe Herd made history when she took BMBL public, but she wants that to become the norm

“I don’t see myself as a steward as much as someone who wants their story to become a more common one for other young girls and women. Hopefully one day soon, it won’t be a big deal for a 30 year old woman to take a company public.”

Your personal experiences are important motivators when building your company.

One Public.com member asked, “What you do as a woman, as a wife, as a mom, and as a leader in this space is incredible and inspiring. According to Docsend, women face significant barriers to success when it comes to seed fundraising. My question to you is: What motivated you when you were fundraising and what motivates you now after your successful IPO?”

Wolfe Herd shared, “My motivation back then was the heartbreak that I and so many other women felt in relationships. Being told to wait for a man and not to go after what you want in a relationship was so fundamentally wrong and gendered. Fighting to change that kept me and the team driven.”

As you expand your company’s offerings, keep your mission at the forefront.

While BMBL started as a dating app, Wolfe Herd has enhanced the company’s offerings not just in Bumble Date mode, but across Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz.

“Expanding the platform across all verticals will ultimately help us inch closer to our mission of helping people build healthy and equitable relationships in all aspects of their lives. This is something that’s top of mind for us as we head into the rest of 2021.”

Find people who believe in you and your idea.

Retail investors and budding entrepreneurs wanted to know Wolfe Herd’s recipe to success. Ultimately, she shared, it comes down to finding “other people that truly believe in you and your idea. Entrepreneurship is something that you can’t do alone and it’s so important for you to have a network of people that can support you throughout your journey.”

She added, My focus has always been on surrounding myself with talented, compassionate people so we can navigate all the unpredictability of launching and growing a business. You cannot do it alone and team is everything in those moments.”

Public.com is on a mission to make the public markets work for everyone. On Public, retail investors can discuss business trends, investing strategies, and the companies they believe in in the same place where they invest; learn and build financial literacy with a community of fellow investors; and, now, connect directly with leaders of public companies. Public’s Town Halls offer a forum for retail investors to ask questions and hear directly from founders and CEOs of public companies such as Bumble.

Katie Perry

Written By

Katie Perry is VP of Marketing for Public.com, the investing app on a mission to make the public markets work for all people. Prior to Public, Katie was VP of Corporate Strategy at Comscore (NASDAQ: SCOR) and spent two years as a strategic marketing and communications consultant for early-stage startups and media companies. Before that, she led brand and product marketing at Suzy (née Crowdtap) and was an early marketing hire at 360i at a time when the digital agency was named one of the Most Innovative Companies in the World by Fast Company.