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The right chemistry sparks innovation

Creating an environment where people constantly improve and innovate is no small feat. But this company has cracked the code.

The right chemistry sparks innovation
Innovations like Swipe Night, Tinder’s digital adventure, set the company apart.

As a worldwide phenomenon in helping people meet, Tinder understands the power of chemistry. The app’s trajectory from startup to iconic brand with a staff of roughly 400 people—far less than many other tech companies—shows the advantage of finding the right people and creating a culture where they thrive.

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That culture creates an environment where innovation thrives. The proof is in Tinder’s ability to find new ways to delight members. Swipe Night, the app’s interactive post-apocalyptic adventure, is a good example. Launched in October 2019, members must make a series of choices in limited time, within the context of the story. Those choices can then be shared on their profiles as a fun way to spur conversations and connection. Swipe Night helped Tinder secure a place on Fast Company‘s Most Innovative Companies list. And such creativity isn’t an accident.

Dream teams have chemistry

At the heart of Tinder’s culture are small, nimble teams comprised of passionate people who work well together, says Tinder CEO Elie Seidman. While the “Z team,” hunts for new features and events to attract 18- to 25-year-old members of Generation Z, another team focuses on how to build trust and safety. “You definitely need that chemistry between the team and the problem space,” he says. 

Being part of a small team in a relatively small company means that you can have a greater impact, which is tremendously motivating, Seidman says. In fact, Tinder Lite, a scaled-down version of Tinder, came from a team member at an internal hackathon. Now, it’s a product offered in developing countries with limited internet access.

Loveable things last

In the product development world, the concept of the minimum viable product (MVP)—a product with just enough features to satisfy customers—is well-known. But at Tinder, the focus is on the “minimum loveable product,” or MLP. In addition to being lean and functional, the product or innovation must also be something that customers will love.

“If you put something into the market that is not interesting, the market will tell you that it’s not interesting,” he says. MLPs constantly bring the conversation back to customers and what will delight them.

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Tinder ranks fifth in the Video category on Fast Company’s 2020 list of Most Innovative Companies.

Communities are essential

Tinder’s growth is spurred by big, bold ideas. To foster the innovation that drives the company’s success, the company’s culture focuses on what employees need to grow, learn, and develop. “We’re going to help you believe in yourself. We’re going to provide you with the environment and team where you are both challenged and feel safe to do so,” he says. The result is a company that cares deeply about the community it serves.

Ultimately, Seidman believes that innovation thrives when teams have the resources they need to grow and learn. How does he measure success in those areas? “If I’m learning at a really fast rate, every five years, I’ll be able to look back and think how clueless I was. I want that same growth rate for our teams,” he says. Such constant improvement keeps Tinder at the top of its game.

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