Louise Troen is the lively and quotable International Head of Brand at femme-forward connection platform Bumble, which was founded in December 2014 by 28-year-old CEO Whitney Wolfe, and which has amassed 23 million registered users to date. Louise weaves her branding wand out of London and oversees all Bumble markets outside of the US. She works closely with Bumble’s HQ in Austin, Texas (pictured above), helping to develop global strategies and campaigns to skyrocket the women-first brand even further. Louise is also responsible for fostering potential new markets, such as Bumble Bizz launching in Australia in January 2018.
Before joining the dating and networking startup in March this year, Louise worked in television production developing topical documentaries. She later joined a PR agency, even helping to launch Airbnb in the UK, back when many were convinced no-one would possibly want strangers staying in their homes and sleeping in their beds (hello, sharing economy!).
Recently, we talked to Louise about innovation being a main driver for growth at Bumble – “All that you need to do is give women the control to make the first move. It’s a very simple mechanism” – and what it’s like to work for a brand that’s constantly evolving. For example, Bumble recently launched photo verification for users to prevent catfishing. Not to mention this crucial condition: “We have a strict no aubergine or dick pic policy. No-one wants to see that; no-one wants to see your penis,” she says.
“At university, I had no idea what I wanted to do”
I studied sociology and philosophy. I had no idea what I wanted to do. But I always knew that I loved people, and I loved telling stories and reading stories. I actually went to a career advisor, and said, “I like to write, I like to read, and I like to engage with people. What can I do with this?” And she asked me about things that I liked to tell stories about, and at that time it was a lot about political and social issues that were happening in Europe. I was fascinated by the black market, notions of feminism, human trafficking and things that affected young women.
“I do not believe in hierarchy”
I think this comes from experience. I believe in a reporting structure, and an accountability structure, so, naturally, if something goes wrong in the UK, on an event that we do, that’s on my shoulders because I would have managed and monitored that throughout the process. But, ultimately, when we’re in a room, whether it’s an intern or whether it’s Whitney [Wolfe], our CEO, we all have the same share of voice, because every idea I’ve heard from all different levels have led somewhere or another. If you make people feel like they can speak and they can be creative, the likelihood that there’ll be more of that is, if anything, going to get bigger.
“I didn’t really have a job interview for Bumble”
In actual fact, I’m not sure if I even sent them my CV. I think that it shows that the way you come across as an individual, and the way that you talk, and your experience that you highlight, is almost like a CV in itself. And it’s something that with our latest … Bumble Bizz, we actually encourage people instead of necessarily writing their CV on their profile, to take pictures of their work to showcase. I don’t know, press articles that they’ve achieved, or … literature, if they’re a copywriter.
“Meeting our CEO, Whitney [Wolfe], was probably the most inspired I’ve ever been in my life”
I actually met Whitney through a friend of a friend. I used to live in LA and I had a very good friend out there that was working on a project for an app that’s about supporting people with mental health issues. And she ended up with a dinner with Whitney, and then I ended up with a dinner with her, and she said, “I’ve met this amazing, amazing woman, and she launched a product called Bumble, and it’s all about empowering women, and giving them the chance to lead the conversation in the dating space.”
“Whitney was ruthless in terms of what she wanted to achieve”
She didn’t take no for an answer; she said yes to everything that I was suggesting, but asked for concrete rationale behind it. She spoke very candidly about her experiences in the dating world to date, and how she wanted to shift that change. She brought up relevant social, political, economical issues that were fuelling her desire and dreams to make Bumble this amazing ecosystem for safe and respectful connectivity. She was ambitious, she was young; I could reel off a hundred different synonyms for how inspirational she is.
“Bumble’s success comes from a societal and cultural shift”
This time five years ago, the word feminism wasn’t even really respected; women weren’t standing up at major award shows, at conferences, at seminars and speaking about the power of their voice, the power of collective voices. This isn’t just about women supporting women, this about men also standing up for women. We’ve seen it recently with the whole Harvey Weinstein situation in Hollywood; that when men also support women, the onward effect from there is only greater because women feel supported by them and that has a knock-on effect on society as a whole.
“Humans have an innate desire to connect”
I think that will always be our biggest growth driver. The appetite and the driver for you, me, to find someone, whether it’s a friend, whether it’s a partner, whether it’s a one-night thing, whether it’s a business connection. That innate human desire will always be apparent. It’s been apparent for hundreds of thousands of years, and I really believe, despite how technology is evolving, that will still lie as the core of who we are.
“Never make a decision based on somebody else”
One thing that I regret is I left a situation in LA that I was really loving. I had an amazing job and group of friends, and I was really happy. I felt a lot of pressure, at that point, to have a successful relationship, and I was the only of my friends that was single. I met this guy and it got serious pretty quickly, and I ended up moving back to Europe from LA for him, and in the end it didn’t work out. Ultimately, it’s led me to my role here at Bumble, but I wish someone had said to me, “What do you want to do for you?” I knew nobody when I got there, I had no access to anybody, I didn’t even have a job when I landed at LAX. I curated this life all for myself. And if I, and I hope to, have daughters I can share this with, I would never make a decision based on somebody else. I would always think about your journey, your ambition, your vision, what feels good to you, and roll with that.