6 Jun 2021

Meet The David of Dating Apps Taking On Goliath

Startup, Venture Capital, Tinder, Bumble, Dating
You cannot compete with these companies 24/7. So one day a week; we’ll take a seventh of Hinge and a seventh of Tinder.
Matt McNeill Love, Co-Founder of Thursday

When did online dating become so dull? Dating apps have left us meaninglessly swiping at profiles we spend less than 5 seconds looking at. Where is the love?

During the lockdown, unsurprisingly, dating apps recorded a spike in activity and engagement. Tinder recorded over 3 billion swipes in just one day – the highest number ever recorded. But as we can meet again in the flesh, in-person dating is expected to bounce back hard. Seeking to facilitate a boost in demand for in-person dating is a disruptive new start-up: Thursday dating. 

Thursday is a dating app with a difference: as the name suggests the app only works one day a week. Users sign in on Thursday morning and find a date for that same night. Don’t feel like meeting someone that night? Try next Thursday.

Floww sat down for an interview with the Co-Founder and COO of Thursday Matt McNeill Love, who discussed the philosophy, strategy, and business model of this new approach to dating.

The industry as it stands

Players like Tinder and Hinge; these billion-dollar companies rule date night, imposing high barriers to entry for any startup. Tinder has 66 million users, since 2012 over 20 billion matches have been made.

The dating giant’s huge share of the market dwarfs the chances of smaller companies attracting users. Each app caters to a slightly different audience but they all provide restricted access to budding singles hoping to meet their match. They also all offer the chance to boost your chances of true love with premium subscriptions; a potential moral minefield discussed in Monetising Love: The Other Side of Dating Apps.

Matt appreciates how far the dating industry has come but points out it is beginning to hurt consumers; “[the apps] have made people become disposable.

“People have become a commodity. There’s too much choice and not enough pressure on actually meeting”. The industry has subsided into a “boring, quite mind-numbing” place which is quite frankly “not good for your self-esteem”.

He adds a personal anecdote about the existing struggles of online dating “One of my friends is a model for Hugo Boss; he’s a good-looking lad that you’d argue wouldn’t struggle to get attention…But his self-esteem is through the floor, during lockdown he’s on dating apps; tries to arrange a date, doesn’t happen. People just don’t message back”.

He notes that “It’s not people being mean” rather “It’s the way we’ve become. You get a message, then you get another message. There’s always someone better around the corner” – it’s through this mass communication that real connections struggle to materialize. It seems there has been a rise in “commitment phobia”.

Thursday, Startup, Venture Capital, Dating, Social Media

Dual screens inside Thursday’s dating app. Image via Thursday.

Could Thursday be the Solution to Solving our Online Dating Woes?

In three words Matt describes Thursday as “excitement, spontaneity and fun”. Thursday wants to “put a bit more normality back into dating. It doesn’t need to be this super-cyber world”.

Matt asks, “Why waste weeks chatting to someone, who is frankly a total stranger when you could grab a coffee in your lunch break or a drink after work and find out if there is a spark immediately?” As the clock strikes 12, Thursday ends; “It encourages you to match and act on it. That’s what we want”.

It doesn’t need to be this super-cyber world.
Matt McNeill Love - Co-Founder and COO of Thursday

Is it safe?

Across the internet there have been consistent issues with users creating anonymous profiles to spread hate and endanger others. Users on dating apps, in particular, have been prey to catfishing, anonymous abuse and identity theft leaving many emotionally or even physically harmed.

A 2020 study found that around 38% of sampled men and 23% of women had perpetrated catfishing behaviors. These challenges have been poorly tackled by the existing dating app giants; but Thursday claim to have come up with a solution. 

Startup, Venture Capital, Tinder, Thursday, Dating

Screenshot of Thursday’s verification page, via Thursday.

“We verify every single person, whether you are a free or premium user. You know every single person you are chatting to has had to put their driver’s license and passport for a verification check.”

Thursday has security at its forefront with mandatory ID verification– something yet to be rolled out by Bumble or Hinge. And there’s no nonsense either “We hold the right to kick you off if we see anything that doesn’t abide by our code of conduct.”

What will it cost me?

Matt recognizes that the days of having a booming tech company with exclusively free users are over; “We realize you have to monetize – this has to be a business.”

But Thursday does offer options for users who aren’t looking to break the bank on getting a date. “On Thursday, everyone can use it for free. But once you’ve sent your limited likes you can pay to become a VIP member”.

Matt reveals that VIP membership users can send unlimited likes, have their profile pushed to the front, be able unlock everyone in their area and gain exclusive invites to private events.

But if you want these perks, you better move fast as VIP passes are limited – they’ll also set you back a cool £/$19.99 a month. A relatively low price in contrast to the existing apps.

David v Goliath

What many people don’t know is that the heavyweights of dating – Tinder and Hinge  – are owned by The Match Group – A Goliath in itself. Bumble, not associated with The Match Group, went public earlier this year, signalling its success.

Bumble, Whitney Wolfe Herd, Startup, Venture Capital, Tech

Bumble went public in February; image via CEO, Whitney Wolfe Herd, Instagram.

With such an established industry already in full swing, we asked Matt about how he sees the giants in the industry; “I genuinely think we can [coexist]. Because we are only taking one day a week from these players it means we are not directly competing.”

Thursday are realistic about the competition that faces them: “You cannot compete with these companies 24/7 – these are billion dollar companies and they will just crush you…[So] one day a week; we’ll take a seventh of Hinge and a seventh of Tinder.”

Matt keeps it candid on the future of Thursday; “There are about three very very big groups that are all competing – at some point acquisition is inevitable because you won’t be able to go beyond a certain level”.

 Is Thursday the new Friday? Matt certainly makes a strong case for the mid-week dating craze. If you’re the kind of person to hit the town and play your luck – Thursday seems the fun, safe and spontaneous solution.

Header Image: Thursday, via bustle.com.This article was amended to reflect the fact that Bumble is not owned by the Match Group.

Dating Apps
Dating Tech
Match Group
Online Dating