9 to 5ish: Whitney Wolfe Herd

Published on: Jul 21, 2021fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round

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Whitney Wolfe Herd is one of the biggest women in business. She founded Bumble in 2014, and became the youngest ever female CEO to take a company public when it IPO'd this year. So we decided to ask the best of the best for her tips on how to think about getting started. 

On Over-Communicating As A Founder

Whitney: I can see where we're going. I can see why we would want to roll out Bumble for friends or Bumble Hive; I can see why we want to do that. And over the years people have said, "Why would you ever do that? This makes no sense. This is stupid." And people internally, right? That’s the stuff [that makes you go] "Where am I mis-communicating myself? Where am I not explaining this vision properly?" Because sometimes when you found a business, you two have very clear sight, and I have a very clear understanding for where Bumble should go. And I think what we need to realize is not everyone can always see that exactly the same way. And we have to communicate that very clearly. 

Danielle: I think that communication point is something that I didn't realize.

Whitney: Great businesses every single day have to fight to survive. Their mission and their vision, it's not necessarily attainable for everyone, right? If you look at innovation, the majority of people can't wrap their heads around it in that moment. And so it's exhausting, right? It is exhausting to constantly have to be your own cheerleader and your own advocate. We are lucky. We have great teams that believe in what we're doing. And I think that's the secret sauce is to have a passionate team that gets it because then you're a unit. You're not a solo trooper. And that makes it more exciting.

On Marketing When You Have No Money

Whitney: I went and bought chalk boxes. I got a bee costume for $29 on the internet and put my Great Dane in a bee costume and filmed little videos of him walking down the street…. So there are creative ways to build a brand. I would go chalk outside of relevant places like cool coffee shops or places that the single person would walk through.

We're talking hundreds of dollars, not even thousands of dollars, and this is a creative way to get your brand out there and to be in front of someone. So we hustled and we still do to this day. I mean, I'm crazy. I still put stickers out and I still carry Bumble merch in my purse everywhere I go, because you have to. You have to or the magic goes away.

On Hiring Friends 

Whitney: Candidly, when I was starting, I was untouchable. No one wanted to talk to me or work with me. No one wanted to be involved with me. So the people that did care about me and knew me and loved me and knew me for who I was, they were the ones that believed in me and supported me and said, "Hey, I'll help you."

Did any of us sit and say, "How is this going to affect our friendship?" Yes, there were clear guidelines and boundaries. I'll never forget sitting down and having a conversation with, if not all, most of them saying, "The business comes first and our friendship is separate, but I will always make decisions based on what's best for the business."

....This is not a marriage. It's a job. And jobs are not always forever. So my advice to people out there that want to hire a friend or want to work with someone close to them, I think you have to just accept that it won't be forever, right? People don't stay at jobs forever. They just don't. There will come an end point. Will you be comfortable in a world where that person no longer works with you? And can you end that conversation in a healthy, peaceful way? And if the answer is no, don't work with them. And if the answer is yes, then go for it. 

Skimm'd by Alex Carr and Andrew Callaway. theSkimm's head of audio is Graelyn Brashear.


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