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Former Bumble executive Michelle Battersby reveals biggest lessons for startups

The tech startup leader has taken a new path with Keep It Cleaner, but the challenges remain the same.

Michelle Battersby

With half of the tech startups in the US, the UK, China and Canada having no women on their leadership teams, the success that Michelle Battersby has forged in the industry is doubly impressive.

Launching female-led dating app Bumble into Australia, Battersby’s career soared from being the Country Lead to Associate Director of Asia-Pacific – all in her 20s.

After a successful three years with Australia’s branch of Bumble, which included the launch of professional networking and mentoring platform Bumble Bizz, the executive has embarked on a new challenge as CMO with tech startup Keep It Cleaner (KIC).

Once again taking a leap of faith, Michelle started her newest challenge – an online lifestyle program – with co-founders Steph Claire Smith and Laura Henshaw.

“There is a lot of inner power that can be found in walking away from something whilst you still love it,” Michelle tells The CEO Magazine . “Leaving Bumble was always going to be hard. No time was going to feel right or easy, so it all came down to the opportunity I was leaving for.”

Michelle Battersby

While the company is different, albeit still focused on women, the challenges that come with the rapid-moving tech industry are the same.

Personalisation and data growth will be the biggest drivers for the startup space within the next five years, according to the executive.

“It’s really exciting to be part of such an innovative space,” Michelle says. “We have already started to see personalisation, but it looks like it’s going to grow even deeper over the next five years. And data has already grown incredibly but startups need to learn how to mine and make their data useful.

“To gain respect as a leader, your team needs to see you get your hands dirty.” – Michelle Battersby

“Being a tech app, we are blessed with having access to huge amounts of customer data – and not all companies know how to utilise it to benefit the actual product.

“I think we will start seeing more sophisticated ways of mining customer data, with companies and consumers reaping the benefits.”

Michelle shares her biggest lessons, challenges and secrets to success in a challenging industry.

Michelle Battersby’s 5 biggest lessons

Don’t underestimate the importance of data

“You need to live and breathe data,” Michelle says. “I am not data analyst, but I checked the numbers every day at Bumble.

“It’s really important to analyse your success and make informed marketing decisions. Data was the first thing I wanted to get my hands on at KIC. You need to be incredibly across what has affected growth in the past and take learnings from every moment that’s told a story.”

Bring women up with you

“The hardest thing I went through due to gender was working in an environment where it had previously been really hard for women to succeed,” she explains. “In the banking industry five years ago, there were serious challenges around getting women to the top, which I felt led to a competitive culture amongst women due to there not being enough opportunities for them.

“That leads to an individual race rather than a team effort or bringing others up with you. That experience taught me a lot.

“I have always tried to avoid similar cultures and rally against that type of environment.”

Invest in your team

“It’s really important for leaders to invest in their team and work with them to understand how to get the best out of each personality.”

Michelle Battersby

Set a good example

“To gain respect as a leader, your team needs to see you get your hands dirty,” Michelle says. “I’ve always taken the approach to lead by example.

“It’s hard to emulate an inspiring leader if you haven’t worked with one before. I’ve been extremely lucky to work with some incredibly inspiring women during my time. Whitney Wolf-Herd is truly one of the most motivational leaders and I am incredibly fortunate to have been able to experience her leadership style.”

Find inspiration in others

“In today’s world, business achievements are so visible with social media – you can gain an inside look into people’s day and career achievements,” she points out. “Entrepreneurs and CEOs are some of the most influential people online, so I really look up to people who maintain their professionalism and stay focused on their role and purpose while still showing a nice personal life balance.”

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