USC alumni and ‘Tinder’ co-founders meet with students on campus
On Monday, Jan. 27 USC Program Board Speakers Committee and Tech L.A. Internships hosted “From an Idea to Millions: Fireside Chat with the Tinder Team.”
Six members of the Tinder staff shared their experiences in the technology and business industries. They also fielded questions from audience members in the discussion.
In just 17 months, Tinder, which was originally launched at USC, according to the Huffington Post, is now growing at a rate of 20,000 new users per day with a total of 100 million users. The company has also expanded around the world to countries such as Australia, England, Brazil and Turkey.
“We drain a lot of batteries,” said co-founder Jonathan Badeen, who is also responsible for user experience at Tinder.
CMO Justin Mateen said the average Tinder user opens the application 11 times per day, for an average of seven minutes — that’s 77 minutes per day.
As USC alumni, Mateen and co-founder Sean Rad were able to tailor their information to the student audience and their ability to relate to the student experience was appreciated by those in attendance.
“Their honesty was very refreshing and they didn’t mince their words. They actually gave realistic advice about startups,” said Andrew Seah, a sophomore majoring in print and digital journalism.
Rad encouraged students to take advantage of the college experience, specifically the experience granted at USC. He credits some of his USC professors as his inspiration.
“School gives you a great excuse to take all the risks in the world. The greatest asset of USC was that it gave me a platform to think freely and I didn’t have my parents or society breathing down my neck to influence me,” Rad said.
For the business majors and hopeful entrepreneurs in attendance, the Tinder staff shared some of their strongest user growth strategies.
“You need to identify social influencers in small areas, see who the influencers are, and target them,” said Whitney Wolfe, vice president of marketing. “That’s how we spread throughout college campuses and other social scenes.”
Students were very receptive to the Tinder staff’s advice. As a student with experience in business and media, Kevin Macario, a sophomore majoring in economics, said the event appealed to his academic and personal interests.
“It was great to hear how they’ve developed app, and what they plan to do with it,” Macario said. “I came to the event a little bit because of my major, but mostly because of my experience with apps. Obviously these guys are doing something right.”
Additionally, the Tinder team shared the direction they hope the company will head toward as well as their ideas for features that could be implemented in the near future.
Mateen spoke about a new function that will improve the recommendation function and increase the number of matches users receive. The team also alluded to a “revolutionary change” that will be released in two months, which will optimize the application.
“The talk was really awesome it was the best business talk I’ve been to at USC,” said April Luo, a junior majoring in computer science. “I liked how it was a smaller, more intimate environment and they were really honest and straightforward.”
In the meantime, one of Tinder’s biggest challenges is beating the stigma and stereotype that Tinder is just a “hook-up app.”
“There are people who are hesitant to join Tinder because they don’t understand what it is, but we want to associate ourselves ourselves with bigger brands and high-profile celebrities because it’s not about number of users but breaking the stigma,” Mateen said.
When asked if he would ever sell the company to Facebook, Rad gave a strong: “No.”
“We have a big vision for Tinder and we’ve only accomplished a small percent of that. We have so much room to grow,” he said.