Tinder has grown from a free application that allows individuals to flirt through pictures, to a $1 billion company. Several of the ideas behind Tinder’s success can be applied to other startups, both new and old.

Teach your customers what to do with your product from the very beginning.

Startup mentor and investor Jason Calacanis said that he likes to ask founders to explain their product in five seconds. The idea is to make sure you can get your point across in a simple, easy-to-understand way. If you can’t, how are customers supposed to know what your product does?

The Tinder app solves this problem by showing you exactly where and how to swipe. If a woman swipes right on your profile, it’s a match and you’ll receive a notification. Simple as that.

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Have great copy and an easy-to-understand voice.

Tinder’s tagline is “The fun way to connect.” It’s a very simple explanation of what the app does, and it’s easily understood by anyone who can read (which is most people). Other startups like to use industry jargon or technical terms to describe their product or service — don’t do this. Instead, use concise language that will help your audience understand what you do quickly.

Tinder is all about comfort and control. The app helps users make a quick decision about whether someone is attractive or not, and then lets them move on if they’re not interested in chatting with someone they just matched with — no awkwardness required. Think about how your startup can make your customers feel

Be confident in the product you are selling.

Tinder’s founder, Sean Rad, was initially approached by Match.com executives and offered $50 million to sell his company. He turned them down — and ultimately sold his app for $575 million instead. The key takeaway: Be confident in what you have now and focus on increasing its value rather than giving up control too early.

Consider your target audience first and foremost when developing a product or service.

Tinder found success because it was focused on making connections between people who are actually interested in each other based on their profiles, photos, likes and dislikes. Don’t waste time trying to offer products or services that won’t be useful.

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Don’t be afraid to be different.

When you share your idea with friends or colleagues, they may try to talk you out of it or tell you that it won’t work. This is something I experienced when I first started consulting entrepreneurs with their businesses. People thought I was crazy — but I didn’t listen, and because of that I’m very successful today. The Tinder founders could have given up when they were told their idea wouldn’t work, but they didn’t — they went forward and made something great happen. You can too!

Find the best user experience for your product.

Tinder focused on user experience from day one. That’s what made it successful. This isn’t to say that technology is everything — Tinder also had a brilliant marketing strategy that helped it spread through word of mouth in college campuses. But these two factors combined pushed Tinder to its high growth rate early on, which helped it become the hottest startup in New York and around the world.

There are many ways Tinder can inspire startups to have a better focus on user experience, but here are five of them:

1. Focus on your core value proposition

2. Do a lot with just a little

3. Learn from your first users

4. Make your product useful without registration

5. Rely on virality with every release


Even if Tinder doesn’t seem like a startup, the fact that it can survive and thrive in an industry dominated by billion-dollar giants proves that even the smallest players can prove to be big fish. Its concise app and free nature are just two of the many successful ideas that Tinder brought to market. And these two examples point to two potentially powerful strategies for any small startup hoping to make waves.

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