How Australians changed their attitude to dating


“It attracts women who want to make that first move and men who respect that in women,” Ms Battersby said. “It means from the moment you’re matching with someone, there’s a different tone for the conversation.”

Ms Battersby said the benefit for men was they didn’t have to deal with rejection as much as in the traditional dating dynamic.

Bumble launched in the United States in late 2014 and was quickly dubbed “feminist Tinder”, as much for its back story as its functionality. The founder, Whitney Wolfe Herd, was a former Tinder executive who left alleging sexual harassment and discrimination. She reportedly settled a lawsuit for more than US$1 million ($1.5 million) before launching Bumble months later.

Bumble rapidly expanded overseas and in 2016 Ms Battersby, then a 25-year-old with a few years in human resources under her belt, was hired to launch Bumble in Australia. A year later, the #MeToo movement took off.

“I feel like Bumble … was ahead of the curve with the #MeToo movement,” Ms Battersby said. “I was glad to see it come out because it aligned with what we’d been doing, which is all about empowering women.”

Earlier this month, for the second year in a row, Bumble hosted a marquee in the Birdcage at Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival. Ms Battersby was photographed looking glamorous day after day and the event generated tonnes of publicity for Bumble.

Michelle Battersby outside the Bumble marquee on Oaks Day at Flemington Racecourse.Credit:Mackenzie Sweetnam / Getty Images

“We wanted to do [the Melbourne Cup] because of the national reach it has,” Ms Battersby said. “It’s one of the networking events of the year and ultimately Bumble is a social networking platform, all about meeting new people.”

Beyond dating, Bumble also has BFF for friendship and Bizz for professional networking. Users can switch between the modes easily, while those in relationships can delete the dating functionality and receive a time-stamp to prove it. Even with BFF and Bizz, Bumble retains the core principle that women make the first move.

“It’s great to instil that kind of behaviour in women’s minds,” Ms Battersby said. “You shouldn’t have to wait for opportunities to come to you – if it’s in dating, don’t be afraid to speak to a guy; if it’s for a job opportunity, don’t be afraid to pursue it.”

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Ms Battersby is doing just that. She finished at Bumble on Friday, drove to Melbourne on Saturday with her dog Leia and will start a new job running marketing for fitness app Keep it Cleaner on Monday. “I honestly feel like I would be procrastinating if I took any time off,” she said. “I just want to get started.”

She is looking forward to working with the founders, Steph Claire Smith and Laura Henshaw, and being part of the team that takes the Australian app to the world.

“They’ve got a great user base in Australia and they’re looking to expand internationally – I’m excited that this time I’ll be in HQ,” she said.

Bumble’s strategy was to market to women “because where women go, men follow” and KIC’s user base is also mostly female. The core Bumble user is 23 to 28, while KIC skews younger.

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Ms Battersby never used Bumble for dating because she met her boyfriend, professional rugby player Bill Meakes from the Melbourne Rebels, at a friend’s house party before she started the job. But she is using KIC’s subscription-based app that offers workouts, personal training, recipes, running route tracking and menstruation logs.

Ms Battersby’s parents were champion rowers and her father won bronze at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. As a child in Manly, Ms Battersby played a lot of sport and she switched schools from Queenwood to Pymble Ladies College in year 11 to pursue rowing. These days she keeps fit with running and hot yoga.

A lifelong Manly girl, it feels “strange” to be moving to Prahran. She says she will miss the beach but “nothing great comes of staying in your comfort zone”.

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