Watch out, LinkedIn.
Austin-based tech startup Bumble launched a business networking tool on Monday called Bumble Bizz that brings its women-first approach to meeting people to the world of business professionals.
This move by Bumble, which launched as a smartphone dating app in 2013, could present a big challenge to LinkedIn, which thus far hasn’t had many serious competitors.
Bumble also has a friend-finding feature called Bumble BFF that launched in 2016 that is for people interested in platonic friendships. Bizz is an extension of Bumble’s thesis that a dating app platform can be applied to meeting people for non-dating purposes.
Bumble Bizz is free and available to anyone who has the Bumble app starting on Monday in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
The idea behind expanding into Bumble Bizz is to offer a “safe space for women” to network,” said Alex Williamson, the head of brand for Bumble.
On Bumble’s platform, only women are allowed to make the first introduction.
The problem with other professional networking sites she said, is that men are allowed to approach the women.
“I got a message on another networking site that said ‘Professionally speaking, you’re very good-looking.’” Williamson said. “It was jarring -- you’re on there to make business connections, not to have someone hit on you.”
Here’s how Bumble Bizz will work:
Bizz users will create a profile and put in some basic information about themselves, their work experience and interests, along with a photo.
“On Bizz, it’s more about showing off your accolades and work experience, and different achievements you’ve had,” Williamson said.
Bizz users will swipe left if they aren’t interested in meeting someone and swipe right if they are. If two people swipe right, that means they both are interested in meeting one another.
Once two users have connected, they have 24 hours to say hello and start networking, Williamson said, or else the message disappears. The idea is to nudge people toward creating a connection rather than having a bunch of Bizz “friends” you don’t speak with.
Bumble was started by Whitney Wolfe Herd, who used to work for dating app Tinder. The company is based in Austin and employs 33 people here.
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