3 de February, 2019
It was at this time that Match’s Marketing Director – the world’s largest group of online dating sites and Apps – got in touch with me via LinkedIn because she wanted to launch a discount offer of ParPerfeito’s subscription through Groupon.
It was early in 2014 when my history with Tinder began. By the end of 2013, I was working as a Sales manager at Groupon and was living in Salvador, Bahia (in the picture below, with my Groupon team in Salvador).
A few weeks after the partnership, she called me again: the invitation was to handle business development of the group’s portfolio of products here in Latin America. Among them, there was a Mobile app called ‘Tinder’. I had heard about it already. They had just launched in the United States and there had been no official launch in Brazil – there were very few Brazilian users of the app. The group flagship site was ParPerfeito, and just to provide an idea of size, the group’s evangelical dating site – Divino Amor – had more users than Tinder.
Although my task was to handle business development for all of the Match Group’s sites and apps, I developed a special feeling for Tinder because the app was already starting to make tremendous success out there in the US and Europe. With that in mind, we started scaling and popularizing the app in Brazil. And, at first, we had just a tiny budget!
With that money, we could only sponsor a College party per month (photo below one of our first events) and that was a lot. As a guerrilla marketing strategy, me and my intern would wander the streets of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo to paste Tinder stickers into restaurants and strategic places that our target audience frequented – and we did it until the night when the angry owner of a restaurant started throwing eggs at us – that’s when we thought maybe it would be better to change strategy!
And then the World Cup came and everything changed. We felt that there was a lot of potential because of the amount of foreign users already using the app and coming to Brazil. And as we imagined, the app grew a lot. The word of mouth of the foreigners during the Cup was a decisive factor for this first wave of growth.
At the beginning of 2015, a very remarkable moment occurred – from both a personal and professional standpoint.. Me and two other Match Group executives went to Tinder’s headquarters in Los Angeles (photo below) to make a presentation that asked for an exclusive team and independent management strategy for Tinder Brazil, with which we could manage Tinder in the country. I had to design a macro plan with a clear growth strategy for the App in the following years and had to defend this investment and its return to the CMO and his team in the USA. I’m glad a lot of my plans actually have been executed.
I must be honest and confess I did not expect Tinder to become one day the Top Grossing app in Brazil and worldwide. I also did not expect all the visibility that the app got and that, consequently, I also had. Back in early 2014, I believed I would just take care of the business of the various Match Group sites and apps, but my decision to focus especially on Tinder provided to be a turning point in my career. I managed to leave a mark on the company, and at the same time Tinder left its mark on me.
One of the most amazing results came when we sponsored Rock in Rio 2017 (our Tinder Studio, below), where Tinder was one of the five most remembered brands at the event. While bigger brands had invested much more money, we were managed to get into the TOP 5 of most engaging companies with a much smaller budget. At that time, I saw the power of the Tinder brand and felt blessed for managing this phenomenal business.
I also worked hard with press in Brazil and Latin America. So that another moment that left a big mark on me was my interview with Fantástico for a special episode for Valentine’s Day in 2017. The interview with Renata Ceribelli was memorable! I also had the chance to spend a full hour on the radio show by Martha Debayle, one of the 50 most influential women in Mexico by Forbes. An inspiration for me.
But it’s not all easy, right? There were many challenges. While I had to deal with the lack of budget early in the days, I also suffered the pitfalls of having too much exposure – because at managing of an application like Tinder, you have to be very careful about what you say, with the content you you create, how you position yourself and what you do.
From all this experience, I believe that 5 learnings were the most striking in my journey as Tinder’s Head LatAm were:
1. The LEAST VISIBLE is the “hand of the brand” in your Marketing campaigns, the MORE EFFECTIVE they will be.
Calm down, let me explain this point better. During the whole time I worked at Tinder, when I was meeting new people and saying that I worked at Tinder, these people used to laugh and say, “Okay, but now tell me what you really do because I’ve never seen any Tinder ads…no one works at Tinder! “. At first I was annoyed because I felt that my work was not having an impact – being well aware of all the money we invested in marketing. But then I realized that it was just the opposite: the content we created was so organic, fun and true that the investment was almost “invisible” and did not differ much from what was spontaneous user-generated content, or content by press or influencers. And we know that it is this type of content and marketing that generates more desire of experimentation and propensity to buy. That’s why I called my Tinder Marketing methodology the “Invisible Marketing”.
2. In your marketing funnel, user RETENTION comes before user ACQUISITION (and not the other way around).
It’s of no use growing, if the product is not ready to retain, convert and make its customers come back: I see very often start-ups rushing to launch a bad quality MVP and soon invest in growth to be able to show short-term results to potential investors. This is totally wrong. Traditionally, in the mobile world, and generally in the online marketing world, the funnel was prioritizing Acquisition, but it should be the opposite.
That’s why my main KPI was the number of active users per month, or Monthly Active Users (MAUs), and I cared less about the number of downloads the app had every day. You may have the best acquisition strategy in the world, but if you do not have retention – and then user conversion – there’s no point in it: your users get in on one side but soon get out on the other. That’s just a very easy way to waste money.
3. Digital Transformation is not a matter of Technology, but of PEOPLE. Business success comes from teams deeply connected with the company’s PURPOSE.
I lam a big fan of Simon Sinek’s Theory of the Golden Circle, which says that people do not buy what you do, or how you do it: they buy WHY you do. They will become your customers if they are aligned with the PURPOSE and the values you convey. And since the company is just a legal entity, who truly shows this alignment with the purpose is the team, not a cute phrase on a company’s website.
I have always been very aligned with Tinder’s purpose, which is to connect people that even if they are close to each other, would not have the chance to meet because of the limited number of interactions that the “physical” world allows us to have. And I am telling the truth, I believe very much in this. Also because I had the chance to see (or read) with my own eyes, thousands of Tinder success stories.
The interesting thing is that a success story is not just a couple, or a wedding. For me, a success story could be making friends with new people somewhere you’ve never been, or it’s the case of someone who has learned a new language by using Tinder in a foreign place (with Tinder Passport), and practicing the language. I have heard stories of reunions with schoolmates who moved to different cities, people who rescued a lost dog in the neighborhood (they uploaded the dog’s picture in their profile, and soon someone would match with that profile!) Or even, as it was the case with a woman from England, people that found an organ donor.
I felt (and still feel) genuine happiness in knowing that someone had success through Tinder, or when I was meeting children of couples who met through the App, as well as I felt deep concern and sadness when I heard reports of bad experiences on the platform (definitely there have been such cases). All of these situations always motivated me to improve the experience for everyone.
Only one person connected with the Purpose is not enough, but it is necessary that all the teams – and the agencies, suppliers, partners, and stakeholders in general – are too. That was the case with Tinder, and it made its success not only thanks to lines of code, its algorithms and our beautiful interface – but to our ability to truly connect people.
So I learned to prioritize Purpose as the guiding factor for our professional decisions and challenges. Always put the Purpose in the beginning – first of all, even of financial matters.
4. Dynamic and complex environments make of AGILITY and EXECUTION as more important factors than Planning and Ideation.
I reported directly to the United States, dealt with a lot of stakeholders, navigated in a very large agency ecosystem, and all of that in a VERY fast growing environment. This provided me with a lot of flexibility and agility. Looking back and reviewing some decisions, I realize some mistakes in campaigns and feature launches, for example, like wrong analysis of metrics, allocation of funds in wrong campaigns, etc. But in the end, I would not have done differently. Because it’s via mistakes that we evolve and improve. We have always stuck to the concept of “test and learn”. So we preferred to do rather than stand still until we have 100% of the information so we could take the next steps. In the end, we only learn from mistakes.
It is no secret that I am a great admirer of Jeff Bezos, and he often says that “you must learn to make decisions with 70% of the information you need.” Because sometimes the time needed to reach 100% of the information needed will delay decision-making and slow you down. It is important to say that of course some planning is necessary, but at the same time the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain Complex and Ambiguous) scenario makes it difficult to plan in the long term, as the scenario is constantly changing. We then have to be able to react quickly to these changes.
5. Productivity it is not “Doing as much as possible” but rather “Doing the minimum necessary”. MINIMALISM is indeed a fundamental element in business.
From my point of view, the traditional concept of productivity, which is to use the least resources to produce as much as possible, is flawed. This definition focuses too much on quantity as a priority, and also takes the focus away from PRIORITIZING, as we start focusing on quantity. My definition of productivity is TO USE THE MINIMUM RESOURCES TO PRODUCE THE MINIMUM NECESSARY. So that we focus on what is really important: quality.
Sometimes doing as much as possible simply is not necessary because we know well that by Pareto law, 20% of the causes (resources) generate 80% of the effects. This failing idea of Productivity can suck our physical and mental resources. We have to apply MINIMALISM.
As I said, in Tinder we started with almost no resources. We had to apply minimalism and learn to grow without a lot of money. Also the teams were lean, and I reported directly to the United States, where I had the chance to talk to my manager only 30 minutes a week (his agenda was crazy!): I had to be minimalist in communication. For agility, I’ve always been minimalist in meetings: fewer meetings and more alignment in short chats / Slack / email.
For example, I have always been more successful in approving and executing projects when I summarized the strategy itself in one sentence, than in a Power Point of 50 slides. Also because, the decision makers will never read the whole thing. What I did in Tinder in order to apply my concept of productivity is, first, to prioritize what really matters. Then, for me and for the team, I was putting short deadlines for presentations or projects so that less time is spent on the same task. If we have too little time, our minds become more attentive and the final quality tends to be better (Parkinson’s law says precisely that the volume of work is a consequence of the time that is available).
In short, Tinder achieved this agility thanks to the “Scarcity Mindset” that always accompanied us. The motto that most refers to this need is a Latin phrase: “If Minor Plus Est, Ergo Nihil Sunt Omnia”. IF LESS IS MORE, THEN NOTHING IS EVERYTHING.
I recently took on a new challenge at L’Oréal. As a last note about Tinder, with the legacy I left, I wish the app continues on this market-leading growth trajectory. I also hope that a new leader in the region will lead you very successfully to your second phase! For this new challenge of Chief Digital Officer of the professional products division at L’Oréal, which I took up recently, I see parallels and differences. The parallel is that the experience will be more challenging than managing Tinder. At the same time, I see an evolution and a great learning, which is to bring Tinder’s baggage (great knowledge of startup universe and technical expertise) and apply it in a large company that is over 100 years old and that is going through some challenges in a market under digital transformation.
At L’Oréal, my goal is to solidify the digital-first mindset: my goal is for the Professional Products division to embrace exponential growth, to navigate fluidly in a VUCA environment and to integrate real-life consumer journey with digital experiences, as it was at Tinder. And in 2019, with this new phase, I hope to evolve as a professional and as a person, even more when it comes to leadership aspects. I want to get closer to people – to turn digital into reality and to have the opportunity and honor to leave my mark in people’s minds and hearts. With courage and compassion.
Here you can find some ideas of mine, thoughts and content on the issues that I'm most passionate about.
From how to design your own lifestyle, to becoming successful in the midst of the Digital Transformation, everything is aimed at sparking intellectual provocations aimed at driving CHANGE in our lives.Learn more
For business inquiries, praises and complaints, or just to have a chat with me! Leave your message below 👇