The last year hasn’t only be challenging for businesses, but for our love lives too. With the whole world locked down, those of us looking for love were driven to dating apps – but with social distancing measures and a pitiful number of options for a meeting up (walk in the rain, anyone?) real dates seem like a nostalgic fantasy.
Or so, entrepreneur Matt McNeill Love thought. In an effort to revive the traditional, face-to-face dating spontaneity, Mr Love has co-founded a brand new dating app to support the singletons of London as lockdown lifts. We had the chance to chat to Mr Love all about ‘Thursday,’ as he explains how monotonous swiping and unenthused messages don’t have to be the future of romance.
How did the Thursday app come about? What gap in the market did you see?
Thursday came about through finding the current dating app market a bit stale and unexciting. People spend hours (myself included), swiping, liking and matching with complete strangers trying to arrange a date. This very infrequently actually resulted in a dates and the experience therefore became more about the egotistical high you get when you get a like from someone attractive as opposed to actually trying to ‘grab a drink after work’. Dating apps are excellent and I’m not going to say they don’t work, because they do, if you are prepared to put in serious amounts of leg work to get a date. We believe dating should be fun and exciting with elements of spontaneity and serendipity, that why we’re here; to get as many singles going on dates as regularly as possible.
What has been the biggest challenge starting this business?
The biggest challenge to date has been building the tech. Everyone who is single is an “expert” on dating apps, it turns out, and therefore we are bombarded with opinions (some warranted, others not so much) on how the app should work/what features we should include etc. The chat feature in any platform app is immensely complicated and some of the biggest apps in the world still struggle to work it out. Our main product is the tech, not the brand nor the marketing, therefore this seed round we have just raised will be used to bolster the development team and hire the A team. There is so much we want to do with the app and it genuinely gets better every week with bug fixes, better UX and UI etc.
What effect has Covid-19 had on the business?
COVID has delayed our launch due to the social restrictions that were implemented. However, this enabled us to really dive into the detail and work out exactly what we want the company to do/be. It also meant that we could curate, through our digital and social marketing strategies, an enormous amount of pre-registrations for the app in both London and NYC. This allowed to solve the chicken and egg problem of having a new app where members cull each other and not enough people on it. Cue, the ‘floodgate’ approach. Whilst this worked really well for us, in terms of numbers on the app, it actually caused our servers to crash due to overwhelming demand. We were experiencing 600 likes and dislikes being sent per second and had over 6000 matches on the first Thursday.
As entrepreneurs, what is the one thing you love and one thing you find challenging about being disruptive business owners?
I love being a business owner in a challenging market, it forces you to think outside the box and be really creative. It also allows you to step back and look at how people are interacting with the market you’re trying to conquer – there are always gaps, things to be done better/faster/more efficiently. The challenging thing is making sure you get the right team; there is no doubt in my mind that to succeed, when you’re having to punch above your weight, you’ve got to have the A Team. Not just through experience and skills but also a ‘go-getter attitude’.
If you could travel back in time and give some advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Spending the past 7 years as an Officer in the British Army has made my quite resilient and quick at thinking on my feet whilst working out what’s the most right decision based in limited advice/intelligence etc. The advice I would give to my younger self would be don’t worry about failing, but learn from it and fail quickly. This is very much a mantra we have instilled in the Thursday team and company ethos; failure is ok if you learn from it, not learning from it however is a very different story…
What’s the plans for 2021? Will you beat all the other apps?
So far this year we have launched our first version in London and NYC, servers crashed due to overwhelming demand (that was a dark few hours!), achieved over 45k downloads, grew our team from 6 to 14 and raised £1.25m from VCs and Angels. What’s next? Refining the product, it’s still only version one, investing more in the matching algorithm to ensure better quality matches than any other dating app, launch in 20 other major cosmopolitan cities in Europe and the US (social-restrictions dependent). We expect to have 500,000 active members within 6 months.