Over the last few years, the mobile dating space has become increasingly controlled by a few players, making it harder for new dating apps to break into the mainstream market.
Because of this, the opportunity for new companies lies on the fringes – offering something different to apps like Tinder, Bumble & Happn, either by presenting a niche proposition or by doing something new.
London startup Antidate launched just over two years ago, looking to bring a fresh viewpoint to the industry with a female-focused strategy giving women control on the dating app.
However after “increasing competition from better-funded apps”, last year the dating app decided to pivot, relaunching the product with a real-time venue-based strategy focused on building engaged communities.
Piloting the new strategy in bars and pubs across Hackney, the dating app, which was last year named a GDI Spotlight finalist, aims to use both historical and real-time data to let singles know about popular venues and connect with other users who visit them.
We recently caught up with co-founders Hatty Kingsley-Miller and Mo Saha to chat about this new direction, how the product works and their plans for 2017.
Can you tell us a little about the original Antidate, when it launched and how it worked?
We launched the original Antidate in December 2014. Hatty was single and having a rubbish experience on online dating sites. We wanted to improve on, and bring a girl’s perspective to, the experience. Tinder had yet to hit the UK, but we knew that mobile was where it was going.
V1 was based around the idea of a one-way glass – an asymmetric experience for guys and girls. The girls could see the guys on a map, but the guys couldn’t see the girls at all until a girl got in touch. So the girls made the first move. Once a girl got in touch, the guy could see her profile, and the couple could message each other, but at no point did the guy see the girl’s location.
We felt this was a win/win – guys no longer had to make the first move, and it spared the girls any unwanted messages and gave them more privacy and control.
V1 also had verified selfies as profile pictures – another industry first.
Why did you decide to pivot and revamp the product?
Partly as a result of increasing competition from other better-funded apps, and partly because we could see that our friends were starting to tire of dating apps and of the weird phone-world behaviour that often comes with it. Our reworked Antidate v2 is for people who are over dating apps and who yearn to meet others in a more organic way, in the real world.
Can you explain how the new product works?
Antidate tells you who’s single, in a specific venue in real time. When you’re in one of our Antidate venues (we’ve started with our favourite Hackney pubs and bars), a green light will show on your Antidate profile. This means that if you’re already out and about, you’ll know who else around you is single, and if you’re still at home, you’ll know where to swing by. It’s like a singles compass.
Women can choose to remain to be anonymous – the one-way glass inspired feature we carried forward from the original version of Antidate.
What is your mission?
Our mission is to bring dating back to the real world – Antidate v2 is just the start. We’ve run a few different types of events over the last few months and we’d love to establish Antidate as the (non-cringe) events brand for singles across the globe.
What stage is the company & product at now?
We’re a small team of close friends. We’re currently trialling Antidate v2 just in Hackney, East London and working on a few ideas to make the app work more effectively before we expand.
How has the trial period in Hackney gone?
We have built up a small but active community of Antidaters in our favourite Hackney hang-outs.
Our billboards, flyers, beermats and posters have really stood out, with passerbys snapping them and posting them on social media.
In a random turn of events, we’ve also been inundated with requests for Antidate T-shirts which have become a bit of a cult item amongst the skater community.
What sort of stats on users/downloads, growth & engagement can you share?
We’ve got 1,000 Antidaters on our Hackney trial.
Why did you want to focus the new product around bars/nights out?
We are both 90’s kids – old enough to remember going out with mates on a pub crawl, on the pull, snogging someone and then going out with them. We loved the spontaneity and adventure of a night out.
We are however also young enough to know how much mobile technology has impacted on modern romance and how people’s social lives and dating lives have been separated.
We want Antidate to be the bridge between the real world and digital dating, as we believe it is going to be the next bounce of the ball in the modern romance movement.
Do you not think some daters might be unwilling to broadcast their location & the places they go?
We’ve carefully designed v2 so that it’s really obvious to you that you’re checked into a venue – you can’t miss the green bar across your profile – and also really easy to turn off your location services if you want to.
Women can also always stay anonymous if they prefer.
What are your plans for 2017?
In 2017 we will be taking Antidate beyond Hackney to other going-out districts in London – next on the list is Brixton, Peckham and then West London.
Read more about the company here.