It’s week one of 2021, and we are more than ready to usher in some new changes. While 2020 was a year we’d gladly forget (scratch that calendar), there were some lessons, certain lifestyle changes, that showed us what was missing in our routines, and what we needed to work on; relationships being one of them.
The last year has been hard for relationships, especially if you’ve been looking to form new ones. Online dating habits have undergone some massive changes; if you are looking to build meaningful interactions in the dot com world this year, no one can guide you better than Priti Joshi. Working as the VP of Strategy at Bumble, Priti talks to us about the new dating trends she’s observed, what helps your profile click in the online dating community, and how she has navigated her career through the pandemic.
ELLE: In the post-pandemic world, dating apps are one of the safest ways to meet people. What are some of the other changes in dating trends you’ve seen this year?
Priti Joshi (PJ): This year has altered our lives in many ways, especially our social lives which have been completely overhauled. The pandemic has made a lasting impact on how single Indians are navigating dating in 2020. New vocabulary and rules have been formed in the dating rule book as many Indians explore virtual dating for the first time and use video dates to get to know one another before meeting IRL. At Bumble, we saw increased usage and extended video chat times, and an increased need for social connections since March when lockdown and social distancing restrictions began in India.
More than ever, people are feeling a strong desire to build trust online before meeting in real life, leading to more virtual communication. Our study revealed that 1 in 2 people on Bumble in India are likely to be New Dawn Daters – people who are newly single after experiencing a break-up during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the biggest driver of breakups was the inability to see a partner (46.45%), 1 in 3 people (29%) also said that the pandemic has exasperated existing issues.
ELLE: As someone who knows the ins and outs of dating apps, what are the things one must keep in mind when interacting online?
PJ: Our studies have shown that the more information that someone shares on their profile, the more likely they are to find a match. For instance, adding a badge to your profile – do you have pets? What are your exercise habits? What is your zodiac sign? – increases your chance of getting a match by up to 96%. Your bio is a chance to show off and let potential matches see just how special you are! Show them how funny you are, show them what you do in your spare time – most importantly, complete your bio… and if you need help perfecting it, get a friend or family member to help! Pro-tip: A completed bio will see a 41% increase in the number of monthly average matches than those who don’t have a complete bio.
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Make your boundaries and intentions clear from the start. People who share what kind of dates they are comfortable with see a 43% increase in the average monthly matches than those who don’t. Every dater appreciates honesty and transparency – so be comfortable identifying your boundaries and communicating them!
ELLE: Tell us about your professional journey. From management consulting to now VP of Strategy – are you at the place you always wanted to be at?
PJ: Prior to my current role at Bumble, I spent the better part of a decade working in management consulting at McKinsey & Company, where I helped answer strategic marketing and growth questions for global consumer-focused companies.
I started my role as the Director of Strategy at Bumble in April 2018, leading special projects with a strong passion for Bumble’s mission to end misogyny and promote equality worldwide. Today, I lead global marketing strategy and operations across our portfolio of brands and focus on setting investment strategies across geographies, audiences, and channels as we fuel growth for our business across existing and new markets. My role also enables me to bring science to the art of business strategy and use creative insights from data and market research to ensure sustainable growth for Bumble.
I also spend time exploring and expanding Bumble’s global presence by looking at our strategic approach in both established and new markets worldwide. In 2018, I led the strategic launch for Bumble in India and have been fortunate to work closely with our growing team in India ever since!
Credit: Nick Berard Photography
ELLE: What are some of the challenges you have faced, and how did you overcome them. Are there any lessons that have stayed with you, even now?
PJ: To this day, there are many times that I feel like an imposter. This feeling can happen during a presentation, in a meeting, or even as I’m being asked my opinion over email / Slack. As a woman in business, I know this is a common feeling to have, but it is something that I push myself to overcome daily.
One of the things I feel fortunate in is having a support system in my colleagues who help me navigate when I feel like an imposter. For example, I’ve asked a few folks to be on-call to help give me confidence if I’m doubting myself or to ask for my opinion in a meeting if I’ve been uncharacteristically quiet. Early on in my career, my mentors would prep for important meetings with me, and we would practice or do a dry run of what I may say in important meetings. We would rehearse what to say and when to say it. This was two-fold: a) I had more confidence in myself when I practised and b) it helped me break the ice in a meeting, giving me more comfort contributing in the rest of the conversation.
Ultimately – all of the ways I’m working to overcome my Imposter Syndrome revolve around having mentors and colleagues who are there to support me. For this – I feel extremely fortunate, and I encourage all of my mentees to build similar support systems.
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ELLE: Bumble has always gone beyond being a mere dating app. From taking political stands to donating to various causes and lobbying against online harassment. What is it like, personally, to work for such a brand, and to be an agent of change?
PJ: I remember my flight from the United States to India in December 2018, as we were officially launching Bumble in India. As we were taking off, I had tears of joy in my eyes. As a daughter of Indian immigrants, I had told myself that one day in the future, I would find a way to support women in India as they took steps towards their own empowered destinies. Never did I think that I would get to bring Bumble to India and give women in India a tool that could enable them to take even further control of these destinies. And that feeling was positively overwhelming – I was so moved and inspired by this moment.
ELLE: What does a regular day in the office look like for you? How have you coped with working from home?
PJ: I’d say there’s no regular day at the office anymore and things have certainly stayed busy! My husband and I are both fortunate enough to be working from home – our jobs involve the computer and many Zoom calls, so we could continue working through the pandemic. We started by both working in our home office but realised we were both on the phone all day long, so we had to get a bit creative!
Now – I work at our dining table, and my husband works in the office. He sometimes makes a guest appearance on my team calls – it’s a wonderful way for my personal and professional worlds to overlap just a bit! We get to take breaks together when we’re warming up lunch or grabbing an afternoon coffee – it’s nice to see each other during the workday!
ELLE: When not being a strategy whiz at Bumble, where would we find you? What does your downtime look like?
PJ: I love to stay active – whether that’s keeping up with my at-home workout routine, going on a hike, travelling [when we are able!], I think it’s important to get moving, especially after sitting at my computer all day long!
I also think it’s important to coach and mentor the next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders. I work closely with a few startups – as a board member or an unofficial mentor to the CEO / Founder – to be a sounding board as they are building incredible businesses to fuel good in the world!
Last, but certainly not least, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends – when the pandemic first hit, it was hard to be physically distanced from all of them. Still, I made it a point to Zoom, FaceTime or call my family and friends to stay connected. While we can’t all be there for each other physically – we can be together virtually. That is what matters, and I’m really grateful to be in a place where I’m able to prioritize spending quality time with those that I love and care about in any way that I can.
ELLE: What are you currently reading, and what are you currently binge-watching?
PJ: I really enjoy reading books – and you can probably find me on a Saturday morning sitting in the sun, with a cup of coffee, reading my latest obsession. It’s my happy place! I’m currently reading Well Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave. This book is the author’s first publication – and I’m already eagerly waiting for her next one!
I’m also a big fan of reality television – it’s a guilty pleasure of mine. One show that I really enjoyed watching this year was Indian Matchmaking, where one of the participants, Rupam Kaur, actually found love on Bumble! It was such a sweet success story, and our team was incredibly thrilled to learn that Rupam and her partner are now married after a year of dating.
ELLE: What have been some of your learnings that you will carry forward in 2021?
PJ: More than anything, these unprecedented times have shown us all the power of human connection – we’ve all learned how to show love, compassion, care and happiness towards one another in creative, thoughtful, and virtual ways. We’ve all realized the importance of new and existing relationships – and most importantly, that one can successfully find love online even during these challenging times!