As soon as it launched in 2012, Tinder changed the online-dating game. Long, carefully-composed profiles that took time to read through quickly lost out to photo-focused, mobile-first profiles designed to be swiped through while standing in line at the grocery store.
Now Tinder users swipe 1.4 billion times a day across 196 countries.
The great idea at the heart of this revolutionary overhaul of online dating occurred to one founder in the most natural possible place: The bathroom.
When Tinder was first in development, profiles were organized like a digital stack of cards that were flipped through and sorted in piles.
"From the beginning, I had a nagging desire to gamify it," says Chief Strategy Officer and Tinder co-founder Jonathan Badeen, in a December live chat on discovery platform ProductHunt.
"Using the buttons to move the cards felt clunky," says Badeen. "I wanted more fluidity. Finding and selecting the appropriate button felt deliberate and sluggish, whereas in a real world scenario, the decisions we make are quick, subconscious."
The eureka moment for Badeen came when he got out of a hot shower after forgetting to turn on the bathroom fan.
"When I stepped out, the room was especially foggy. I wiped the mirror clean, but within a minute it was fogging up again. I wiped it clean a second time, only this time, I wiped in the opposite direction.
"I saw a familiar face looking back at me in the clear sliver of the mirror that my hand had just … swiped," says Badeen.
"The swipe was the simplest way to get the card from point A to point B."
Bedeen went into the office and told the team to starting building the swipe functionality. That was 10 billion matches ago.
Much of Tinder's success can be traced back to Bedeen's bathroom mirror revelation. As he puts it, thanks to the swiping aspect of the app, "People end up having fun doing something that they would have otherwise considered laborious work."
In the chat, Badeen also encourages aspiring tech world employees to be bold and confident when it comes to their ideas. He writes, "If I were afraid to share my opinion and code the swipe into Tinder (note: I did so without telling the team that it was in the latest update), I wouldn't be answering your questions today."