The Heartbeat Story

In 2013, Brian Freeman started the first female-focused dating app, called Wyldfire. The idea was for women to call the shots, and for women to have to allow men onto the app, and it was exactly what the dating industry needed. Brian saw incredible initial success, and was featured on The Today Show, in GlamourBusiness Insider, Elle, and more. Wyldfire started a PR frenzy, and it began to catch on.

To launch the app, Brian went from college campus to college campus, and brought on teams of sorority women to help him market the app. The secret to dating apps, insiders know, is to get women on board first, and the male users will follow.

What Brian saw was astounding. He watched as the young women posted about the app on their social media accounts, and saw the downloads pour in. Not only were these real, college-aged women incredible at driving installs, the users were by far the most engaged and had the best retention rates. After seeing the power and influence these real women had, a lightbulb went off, and Brian realized this was bigger than just a dating app. Heartbeat was born.

Brian hypothesized that if he could aggregate the voices of all of the young women out there, he could create marketing campaigns that were unparalleled in their authenticity and success. Wondering how he could scale such a huge undertaking, he brought on an expert, Jim Mulhearn. Jim was the creator of a hugely successful ambassador network in the music industry, called the Street Network. One of the youngest executives ever at Warner Music, Jim was responsible for the social media and commercial success of bands like My Chemical Romance via growth hacking and innovative social media techniques. When he met Brian, he knew he could build a similar network of millennial women, uniting them around something truly meaningful. Soon after, the team brought on Kate, who would help with growth and leading the charge around female empowerment.

The Heartbeat team began to test whether the idea would resonate with millennial women and the brands who were trying to reach them. Would people believe that real women — not influencers or bloggers or celebrities — could effect change on the same massive scale that other marketing channels could? Would women be willing to provide authentic recommendations about things they love and take action for those brands? As it turns out, the Heartbeat team was right.

Kate Edwards