Bumble blends business with dating

Bumble is getting all up in your bizz-ness.

The popular dating app, Bumble, has expanded its service to careers, and is using students for promotional support.

In October, the company launched Bumble Bizz, a new category for business networking alongside the app’s dating and social features. Andrew Lapico, a fourth-year TRSM and law student, and the Ryerson Bumble campus director, sees this new addition to Bumble as an opportunity for graduates.

Bumble, the ‘feminist Tinder,’ advances to professional networking with Bumble Bizz. (Courtesy of Bumble)

“There’s still regular Bumble, but this is our first entrance into the business-networking world,” he said. “It’s a great way for students to find mentors and network with Canada’s progressive, top entrepreneurs.”

Lapico learned about Bumble’s student jobs through a friend who was working at the Bumble headquarters in the U.S. He and two other University of Toronto students promote the app on the Ryerson and U of T campuses, encouraging students to use Bumble to find post-graduate employment and network with industry professionals. Bumble has hired student ambassadors for marketing projects before, like the Bumble Honeys, a society of college girls that endorse the app’s dating platform.

“I just wanted to get the word out about Bumble Bizz for grads to help them find jobs,” Lapico said.

Similar to its dating application, Bumble users create a profile complete with relevant experience and education information, and begin swiping on profiles that may be offering or seeking business opportunities. Once you’ve matched with another user, you can begin to privately chat and network. Unlike a traditional job search engine, Bumble Bizz focuses on fostering network relationships and not applying directly to job openings.

Bumble launched in 2014 as a female-oriented dating app, offering a format that allowed women to make the first move. In heterosexual matches, only females can initiate conversations and must do so within 24 hours of the match being made. This eliminates the pressure men might feel in starting the conversation, while encouraging women to initiate in dating. Bumble Bizz still uses this female-first match approach.

“If there’s a guy on Bumble [dating] and she doesn’t swipe on him, he might think that he can go to the networking app, and he can still talk to her that way. It’s still protection,” said Kiara ‭Ventrella, a freelance designer. “I think it’s more geared toward female empowerment and trying to help them in the workplace, because it’s still not equal.”

Ventrella is a graduate of Ryerson’s School of Fashion. While on a recent trip to the U.S., the 27-year-old was using Bumble Bizz and matched with motivational speaker and entrepreneur, James Chapman. After connecting with Chapman, Ventrella is now in the process of designing a logo and brand image for his new platform.

“I really liked the idea of his business and I find myself just as excited about the venture as he is, which I think is important for everyone on your team to have a common goal and believe in what you’re doing,” she said.

It seems unusual for a dating app to transition into business, but digital media and marketing professor, Chris Gibbs, said that this may be an attempt by Bumble to change course.

“It’s really common for a tech startup to pivot at some stage,” Gibbs said. “If you try to create a social channel for the masses, it’ll fail. Most social channels have to start with a niche and really build in that community and grow from there.”

‘Pivoting’ is a common occurrence in the tech word. If a business model isn’t working, a company will pivot and start fresh. There have been several high profile pivots in the technology industry: YouTube, a former video dating site, pivoted. Twitter was once a podcasting network called Odeo. Pinterest was once Tote, a retail and shopping browser.

Integrating work with dating and relationships could be Bumble’s attempt at advancing in the social media market as an all-encompassing app.

“They have dating covered, making friends covered (with Bumble BFF). Real-time business and networking connection seems to complete the trifecta,” Ventrella said. “It would bring existing users in and new users like myself to the platform. Tons of people I know have been offered jobs on LinkedIn. Bumble offers these kinds of connections in real time.”

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