NEW DELHI: Actress Priyanka Chopra's maiden venture as an investor in social and dating application Bumble, which has been launched in India, aims at bringing social change and women empowerment by letting only the woman make the first move in heterosexual matches.
India is the first country in Asia to get Bumble, which was founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd shortly after she left Tinder, a dating app she co-founded.
Herd told IANS here: "It was Priyanka Chopra's idea to get Bumble to India. We always had India on the radar but we thought it might be a long time from now. When Priyanka and I were sitting next to each other at a dinner, we were sharing our missions and visions about the planet, and what we care about.
"We realised we care a lot about the empowerment of girls and women around the world, and she said it's remarkable what you're doing with Bumble, and this is so important for India. Let's take it there."
Bumble has 45 million users in 140 countries. Apart from being a date-finding platform, it also facilitates friendships with its "BFF mode" and business networking via Bumble Bizz.
US is the largest market for Bumble, but its high-growth markets include Australia, Canada, UK, Germany and Netherlands. For the Indian market, language and cultural localisation has been done.
Available in Hindi and 'Hinglish' on iOS and Android, Bumble has incorporated a religion filter, apart from letting users mention astrological signs, whether the person drinks or smokes, has pets or not, and the option for women to only mention the initial of their first names -- giving them the choice to disclose only what they want.
"In India, Bumble started in October 2018, and it's doing well so far. It goes to show there's a real need, and the statistics are promising in a short time. You would assume it's just another dating app, but it's so much beyond that. Only 30 per cent users are using it exclusively for dating, and there's a huge chunk looking at the business networking and friend finding. We are just trying to facilitate the digital empowered version of what we all need in the physical realm -- which is connections in business, friendship and love," said the 29-year-old Herd.
Sarah Jones Simmer, Chief Operating Officer, Bumble, said they understand that there may be reserved mindsets about dating in India, but they saw the country as a progressive society.
"Our eyes are open to the challenges, but we see them as opportunities," Simmer said, adding that they may look at spreading their wings later by creating a physical place for people to connect -- akin to a Bumble Spots pilot they are doing in the US.
As for competition, there are apps like Tinder, Truly Madly and OKCupid in India. But Herd is confident about what she is offering.
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"Competition is a great thing. It means that the need is validated... But with what we have, there is no competitor. We are approaching this with a true desire to create change and impact, and to empower women and men globally. A lot of the platforms that you may think are competitors, are truly just entering the market for numbers. That's what sets us apart."
Bumble was launched in India officially at an event here on Wednesday night. It was attended by newly married Priyanka and her American singer husband Nick Jonas.
The idea, as Priyanka's manager Anjula Acharia -- who is also a strategic advisor for Bumble in India -- said, emerged as they felt women in India don't just need dating apps, but something which helps them in all areas of life.
Keeping it true to Bollywood: pretending we didn’t know what was going on at first but somehow knew a coordinated dance to @priyankachopra’s biggest dance, Desi Girl. Can you all tell that we’re beyond excited to officially launch in India?! pic.twitter.com/tghKs3pKJX— Bumble (@bumble) December 6, 2018
"Priyanka is very purpose-driven. She is very driven by things that make the world better and have a social impact," Acharia, who has a huge role to play in the actress' successful crossover from Bollywood to Hollywood.
The actress will be the brand's face in the country, but her "celebrity status is only the icing," Herd said.
"We never even approached our work with Priyanka thinking she's a celebrity. We clicked with her passion to chase a common vision and mission with us and that is what became so special about this collaboration. Her celebrity status is just the icing on the top because what's special about Priyanka is that she is not just the face of the brand here, but also very invested in this. She cares about it."