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Bumble Thinks It Can Fix Dating Apps for Women in India

October 3, 2018, 5:30 PM UTC

Dating apps have had a hard time catching on with women in India—and Bumble, set to launch in India this fall, hopes its women-first philosophy will make the difference.

“What we love is the potential for us in India,” Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd tells Fortune.

Bumble is set to launch in India this fall, with new investor and adviser Priyanka Chopra at its side. The startup started working on bringing its dating and social connection app to India about nine months ago, building a team of about 20 people working on launching in India and getting its executives familiar with the market. Bumble higher-ups studied the launch process for American tech companies in South Asia as well as Indian norms around relationships and connections.

Dating apps in India, including Tinder, have had difficulties convincing enough women to sign up. “The barrage of messages that hits your inbox is like a swarm of locusts,” one Mumbai woman, Anushree Majumdar, told the Wall Street Journal in June. The Indian dating app TrulyMadly said at the time that women made up about 20% of its users.

Tinder, however, introduced its Bumble copycat women-message-first feature in India last week.

To address concerns around safety for Indian women, Bumble will introduce a feature allowing women to set their profiles to only show their first initial—no first or last name. The app will also introduce new features for reporting bad behavior. Those safety features could expand to other markets down the line.

“There are hundreds of millions of young women in India that are part of a larger movement to take control of their lives, and they’re demanding respect and independence,” Chopra’s manager Anjula Acharia, another Bumble advisor and investor, said in a statement.

Bumble created versions of its app in Hindi and “Hinglish,” adapted its marketing to suit the Indian market, and adjusted its user interface and matching algorithm for India’s levels of network connectivity. Tinder, for comparison, offers its app in four languages in India.

Bumble will now be in 160 countries, but most of Bumble’s international expansion hasn’t required anything near the level of specialized focus as India has.

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Bumble enters a market that already has American and European apps, including Tinder; local apps; and legacy brands around matchmaking. “When we took a closer look at India, we saw a market that was very fragmented,” Wolfe Herd says.

With its main dating app, Bumble will also bring with it its verticals for friend-finding and networking, Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz. Those verticals will look largely the same as they do in Bumble’s other markets.

Chopra—known in the United States for her TV show Quantico but for years one of India’s most famous Bollywood stars—will appear with Wolfe Herd at rollout events around the country in the fall. She’s serving as an adviser to Bumble and has been “deeply involved” in go-to-market strategy and creative campaigns, the company says. Bumble declined to disclose the amount of Chopra’s investment.

“I’ve always believed that investing in women is key to social transformation and economic growth, and in working with Whitney and her team over the past year, I’m inspired by the real, positive change Bumble is creating and I’m proud to have the opportunity to contribute to this movement as a partner,” Chopra, who first worked with the company on the launch of Bumble Bizz in 2017, said in a statement.

Bumble is expanding into the high-growth market as the company faces some turmoil at home: an escalating lawsuit with online dating giant Match, which owns Tinder. Wolfe Herd spoke at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Summit Wednesday just over an hour after her legal opponent, Match CEO Mandy Ginsberg.