Thursday, a dating app that wants to solve problems created by, well, too much time spent using dating apps, had raised a £2.5 million (~$3.5M) seed investment — a few months after launching (in May) its single-matching service in London and New York (and racking up over 52k downloads).
The seed is double their initial target, with financing coming from Ascension Ventures, Best Nights VC (previously M-Venture) the investment arm of Jägermeister, Connect Ventures, plus early backers of CityMapper, TypeForm and FIIT (processed via SeedLegals).
Notable angels backing the dating platform include Tom Blomfield, founder of Monzo; Matt Robinson, founder of GoCardless and Nested; Ian Hogarth, founder of Songkick; Eldar Tuvey, founder of Wandera and Henry de Zoute, founder of LookAfterMyBills.
So what’s Thursday’s twist in a highly competitive space? The clue is in the name: This dating app is only live for one day per week.
Specifically the app opens for usage at 00.01 each Thursday morning so swiping is compressed into a few hours. All matches and conversations vanish at midnight. Hence users are pushed to act quickly — and “be a bit spontaneous”, as it puts it — if they want to get a date that night.
Profiles are thus fairly basic. Users can upload five photos (either from social media apps like Facebook or their phone’s camera roll) — and share some “topline information” about themselves.
The app also prompts them to answer a few questions — to give a flavor of their personality. And there’s a ‘Stories’ style feature to further show off who they are (again that content deletes after 24 hours).
Matches are based on what Thursday says is a “rough location” — so users being matched are able to figure out a convenient place to meet up. (The app specifies that users’ exact location is never shared.)
Thursday users are encouraged to only log on in the morning if they are free that evening to go out on a date.
Matches are also limited to x10 people a day — to avoid users just trying to maximize their chances by swiping to match with every user they see.
By putting some hard (time) limits on usage, Thursday’s pitch is that service scarcity can fix some of the problematic issues of overuse which can plague dating apps — leading to dating indecision and swipe fatigue. And, well, just waste a lot of people’s time.
It also reckons that by giving users a limited — one day per week — chance to book a date it can put some of the excitement back into digital dating. Which can otherwise, at times, feel pretty transactional.
Commenting in a statement, co-founder George Rawlings said: “Just four weeks into launching and we’re delighted to have a number of notable investors on board who really believe in our vision and back this app. We’ve got big plans with a clear mission, to change a culture of how people date. This is just the start and we will deliver. Dating apps just got exciting again.”
Flush with 2x the amount of seed funding they had initially planned to raise, Thursday’s team intends to step on the gas — and, well, there’s no way to patent this kind of idea so they will need to move quickly to stay ahead of any fast-follows.
No surprise then that the plan for the seed funding includes hiring a head of growth and a head of marketing, in addition to other senior roles and a number of tech hires — and coming up with what they dub as a “six figure marketing strategy”.
Expanding the app to other cosmopolitan cities elsewhere is also on the roadmap. But for now Thursday is only available for singles in London and New York.
Dating apps are already a diverse bunch — catering to all sorts of priorities, communities and kinks, including by applying various creative twists in the name of helping users find a match (such as by limiting who can send the first message; or hiding selfies until a few messages have been exchanged to push beyond superficial swiping).
Time limits on usage is another interesting idea. Albeit, how this type of ‘demand manipulation’ might affect the resulting dating power dynamics remains to be seen. And it seems noteworthy that the founders are both male.
“This is the first version of Thursday and it’s definitely not perfect so in the short term we are going to use this time to tighten up the app, introduce some new features and continue to develop our matching algorithm to make it the most efficient and intuitive matching system on the market,” added co-founder Matt McNeill Love in another statement. “We’re also going to be introducing a not been done before, revolutionary feature, which will really assist with matches resulting in dates.”
Given the accelerated usage timeframe and the vanishing messages Thursday clearly needs to pay careful attention to user security.
On this front it says all users are verified before they join — either by uploading their passport or driving license. It also says it takes abusive messages “extremely seriously” and does not tolerate hate speech, such as racism, body shaming or misogyny.
The pledge is that any such abusive users will be blocked and unable to return.
While the USP of the app is a ‘one day a week’ limit there is, of course, an option to pay to get a little more access.
Thursday says there are “a limited number” of VIP memberships available.
Users who choose to shell out a monthly fee will get their profiles boosted all day (“x60 increased visibility”); be able to send unlimited likes; and be able to unlock Saturday usage… albeit on the bonus day they are presumably limited to the pool of other VIP users as non-paying users are locked out til Thursday.