How Whitney Wolfe Herd Scaled a Billion Dollar Startup with Zero Coding Skills

Power in Numbers (PIN)
3 min readApr 26, 2023

90% of online dating startups fail, but Whitney Wolfe Herd built America’s fastest growing dating app and became the youngest woman in the US to take a company public. Without ever writing a line of code.

This is the story of Bumble and how one investor changed everything.

Most successful tech founders started their companies hunched over a keyboard in a dorm room. But not Whitney. She grew her billion dollar empire without ever writing a line of code.

Her superpower? Marketing.

It didn’t come easy though. It all started with being pushed out of Tinder. After graduating in 2011 with a degree in international finance, she joined a startup called Cardify. The app had a swipe feature to let users check through retail loyalty cards.

So a few Cardify employees, including Wolfe, decided to use this swipe feature & started Tinder. She became the marketing guru of Tinder. She advertised the app with pizza parties and free thongs and flyers on college campuses. In just 2 years, Tinder got 50M+ users.

But things went sour and Whitney left Tinder, filing a lawsuit for sexual harassment. After leaving, she was fired up & had something to prove to the world. And so Bumble was born.

Fed up with the difficulties she had faced, she wanted to create an app for women to compliment each other & support each other — without a focus on physicality. At just 24 years old, and with a brilliant mind for branding, she was ready to take on the world.

At the same time, Andrey Andreev, Russian billionaire and founder of the most popular dating app in the world, Badoo, reached out to her. Andrey had met Whitney in 2013 and she’d made an impression.

So he contacted her with the idea to get her to work for Badoo. She refused, and after lots of back & forth they decided to start Bumble. He would be the investor and she the CEO.

He made an initial investment of about $10M for launch marketing and a percentage in the company, while Wolfe tapped into Badoo’s infrastructure and Andrey’s know-how.

Already having scaled Badoo, Andrey knew everything about monetization methods and product scaling. That meant Bumble was able to quickly develop complex and efficient tech for subscriptions and growth.

Then one day, Whitney thought: “What if women make the first move, send the first message? And if they don’t, the match disappears after 24 hours.” And so Bumble’s whole strategy unraveled from there.

The first marketing move for Bumble was traveling to Texas campuses on weekends & giving free yellow Hanky Panky underwear to the sororities and free beer to the fraternities, telling the fraternity brothers that all the girls were looking for their next formal dates on Bumble.

From 2014–2021, Bumble was able to grow its revenue by nearly $100 million year over year, reaching a yearly revenue of $337 million in 2020. The company went public in February 2021 at a valuation of $8.3 billion. And so Whitney became the youngest woman to IPO a company.

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Power in Numbers (PIN)

PIN is a platform to angel invest in startups alongside your community. Both for accredited & unaccredited investors. https://www.getpin.xyz/