Image source: Sean Rad
When it comes to true connectivity, fashion retail could learn a thing or two from Sean Rad – founder and CEO of one of our era’s most defining phone apps. Since launching in 2012, Tinder has gone from strength to strength, making 8 billion matches worldwide in just three years. But in an increasingly crowded dating app marketplace, what is Tinder doing differently? We spoke to Rad about creating connections, keeping things simple and why data isn’t necessarily enough.
How did you come to found Tinder? Could you connect the dots between previous roles on your CV, and how they led to your current one?
I've always had a deep curiosity for how people communicate and connect with each other. My first venture, Orgoo, a unified communications platform, aimed to improve the underlying tools we use to communicate. Next, I started Ad.ly, which was the largest celebrity endorsement platform for social media at the time and dealt with the challenges brands had with reaching their respective audiences on Twitter and other social media platforms.
Tinder is designed to break down the physical and emotional barriers that exist when trying to meet new people. Tinder seamlessly connects you to new people around you – whether you are looking for friends or a date – who are also interested in getting to know you, too.
You’ve previously described Tinder, on the surface level, as a “fun, light experience”. How important do you think this is when it comes to creating successful mobile technology – not only in dating apps, but also in other areas like fashion?
Solving a real problem for your user base, in any industry, can be a big challenge, but the user experience shouldn’t be. Keeping things simple and easy is the best way for users to find value in your product.
How is Tinder keeping ahead of the dating app crowd? Apps like Happn and Hinge are just some names experiencing growth in 2015.
We really don't keep tabs on other companies. We're focused on our own mission and let our users guide what we focus on. We listen to our users and work hard to build the best experience for them. In just three years we have users in every country around the world and have made 8 billion matches. Twenty-six million matches happen each day – and our user base is still growing. We are creating connections that otherwise would never have existed if it wasn’t for Tinder, and in that sense we feel like we are truly making an impact on the world.
One of the big topics at the NY summit will be how retailers can learn from their consumers through data. How has Tinder’s development been informed by user preference and behaviour?
We learn a lot about our users with every swipe they take. We use data to deliver a better experience via better recommendation, and also to inform the decisions we make internally. The more we understand about our users and what within the app is resonating with them, the better we can determine which changes to the app will have the most significant impact. That said, data can only take you so far. It’s important to also seek a qualitative understanding.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from the creation and marketing of Tinder?
We can’t live without human connection.
To hear more from Sean Rad, book your ticket for the Decoded Fashion NYC Summit on October 28-29.
Reported by Claire Healy