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Bumble Founder Whitney Wolfe on Shifting the Dating World and Never Quitting

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Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe has always called the shots. An entrepreneur since she was quite young (she had three companies before she graduated from Southern Methodist University), she was always “eager to start, to create, to do” and definitely be her own boss.

And that she has certainly done. One of the original founders of Tinder, Wolfe ventured out on her own last year to create a more intuitive dating app that put women’s needs (and steamy wants) first. And, no, for all the skeptics out there, she didn’t simply try to recreate Tinder for the ladies. In fact, the 26-year-old originally wanted to create a positive social platform for adolescent girls, but the idea of a women-centric dating app kept nagging at her.

[Related: How to “Follow Your Gut” When Making a Big Decision]

As an ambitious young woman, Wolfe found it difficult to accept that if she liked a guy, she had to wait for him to approach her. Her friends cosigned on the frustrating double standard. “I would watch these beautiful, smart, sophisticated, talented women say they can’t have any control over their dating lives,” says Wolfe. “They felt completely crippled by the fact that they would be perceived as desperate or too forward and that they would ruin it.”

And her male friends weren’t much happier either. The fellas felt tremendous pressure always having to make the first move and were deathly afraid of rejection. “That fear can really lead to aggressive behavior,” explains Wolfe. “But when you eliminate that fear and take that anticipated expectation away, the aggressive behavior lessens. By having the woman make the first move, she’s empowered, she’s confident, and the man is relieved of the pressure. It creates a fascinating effect.” Launched in 2014, Bumble has already been labeled the go-to “feminist dating app.” While women are in control by swiping right to initiate contact, the app really initiates a dynamic shift for both sexes.

Shaking up the dating lives of thousands of Millennials has been a great perk for Wolfe, but world domination has never been the goal. It’s always been about creating genuine relationships. “I have always loved connecting people. From the time I was young, it was something I was passionate about. I love bringing friends together, or connecting what I thought to be a good potential romantic partnership,” she says. Luckily, her talents turned into passions and, now, a very successful enterprise with around half a million users sending 200,000 messages per day. “With Bumble, we are trying to bring people together all day everyday! I am so passionate about my line of work, and therefore I love what I do!”

[Related: Build Your Career Around Your Passion]

Her road to success hasn’t come without a few setbacks. Just a year ago, Wolfe left Tinder on a rough note, filing a lawsuit saying she’d been sexually harassed and discriminated against at the company. Now, it’s great to see Wolfe back in the saddle—and kicking butt.”I think it would have been a shame to limit myself after my departure from Tinder,” says Wolfe. “I knew I needed to continue. Yes, it is scary but also extremely exciting to have the chance to build things from the bottom up again.”

So what would she tell other women dealing with the anxiety and fears that come along with entrepreneurship? “Don’t worry so much, be in the moment, follow your intuition, and don’t let doubt or fear of failure hold you back,” she says. Everything happens as it should if you work hard, do the right thing, and believe in yourself.”

And remember, she says, the sisterhood is counting on you. “If I am lucky enough to have good health and the freedom to learn and create, it is my duty to do so. Too many women across the globe don’t have access to the education or tools needed to conquer their dreams, so hopefully what we are doing with Bumble will inspire women everywhere not to give up.”

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Photo: Courtesy of Whitney Wolfe

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