Tampa Bay’s new app aims to make online dating more authentic but it’s not easy

Frustrated with dating apps? A new one just launched in Tampa Bay to help singles find lasting connections.

Weaver Dating, which debuted locally in early June, says it uses an algorithm to match people based on core values ​​important to long-term relationships. This includes politics, religion, financial goals and emotional personalities, according to the app’s founder, Mara Rudolph.

Users can then flag which of other people’s preferences on the app are red flags and absolute deal breakers.

But it’s no easy feat starting a new dating app company with so many heavyweights vying for the hearts of singles.

The last decade has seen a wave of popular apps popping up including Hinge, Tinder and Bumble. There are also niche ones out there that connect people of similar politics and people of the same religion.

I mean, talk about an uphill battle, said Rudolph, a 27-year-old tech product designer from Delray Beach.

To do that, Weaver Dating is focusing on establishing a base in the Tampa Bay area after struggling to launch nationwide last year, Rudolph said. With little funds, he hopes to use word of mouth to build a relationship with the region’s singles community before branching out elsewhere.

All we’re doing right now is a very low budget, Rudolph said. We have been grumpy about it.

But there’s an opportunity to stand out, she said, with the growing amount of singles frustrated with other apps.

How the app works Work?

For relationship seekers, those looking for serious romance, Rudolph said it can be difficult to manage game-like features in dating apps that reward browsing over connecting.

There’s a lot of ghosting going on, a lot of surface level and a surface kind of scrolling and conversation, Rudolph said. But time and time again, all of these relationship experts talk about the importance of values ​​as a fundamental part of getting into a relationship and being in that relationship for the long term.

Singles fill out 26 questions based on core values ​​to create a profile on Weaver Dating.  The app's founder Mara Rudolph said other dating apps focus too much on interests rather than the issues that matter most in a romantic relationship such as politics, religion, family aspirations and financial choices.
Singles fill out 26 questions based on core values ​​to create a profile on Weaver Dating. The app’s founder Mara Rudolph said other dating apps focus too much on interests rather than the issues that matter most in a romantic relationship such as politics, religion, family aspirations and financial choices. [ Courtesy of Weaver Dating ]

Weaver Dating aims to connect people across similar foundations, rather than interests like TV shows and hobbies like other dating apps do.

Some have values-based questions, but there are also a lot of questions of interest and what your personality traits are, she said. That kind of muddies the water and doesn’t get to the heart of what really matters.

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When a user downloads Weaver Dating, they fill out a survey of 26 questions about pillar issues and which answers they agree with another single answer.

He asks if they believe in a higher power, how politically active they are, if they want children, and what their opinion is about marriage. Each question has about five answers to choose from. Rudolph said she spoke with relationship experts and divorce attorneys to develop the questions, and said finance is a big deal leading to many divorces.

The section on finance doesn’t ask how much wealth people have, but rather how they relate to money and debt in their day-to-day decisions.

Users can then flag which answers would be a red flag or puzzle. An algorithm then connects people with the most similar responses. If someone responded with what another single considered a red flag, their profile would be rejected in the queue. If they responded with a puzzle, they’ll be pushed back even further.

Why Tampa first?

Rudolph developed the app and launched it nationwide last year. But that strategy was difficult without investment.

Many people think they can make a successful dating app. And so, of course, there’s a lot of noise… it makes it much more difficult to raise funds, she said.

After running out of funds, Rudolph said he posted an appeal on AngelList, a site that connects investors with startup founders. That’s how she met Matthew Spaulding, a Tampa Bay native and entrepreneur who is in a long-term relationship and was interested in helping others find something similar to him. He joined to become the apps chief technology officer.

It was Spaulding’s idea to launch locally first as he has links here and the region has a growing number of young professionals. The app connects people within a 60-mile radius of the Tampas city limits, Rudolph said.

Showcasing the features of the Weaver Dating app, a new startup that launched in the Tampa area in early June.  Users can flag core values ​​they consider warning signs or dealbreakers.
Showcasing the features of the Weaver Dating app, a new startup that launched in the Tampa area in early June. Users can flag core values ​​they consider warning signs or dealbreakers.

As the economy shrinks and investors are more cautious, Spaulding said they’re going old school. Marketing includes finding any stage where they can talk about the app, leaving flyers at coffee shops, and posting on social media.

We will prove that we can get users to join and succeed without investor money, Spaulding said. And then once that happens, our company will be much more attractive to investors.

Tackling dating app burnout

Weaver Dating only shows users three profiles a day for free. Users can buy gold coins to see more profiles or get more coins for free by referring friends to the app.

This encourages really intentional encounters, Rudolph said. To take their time to really like profiles and think about them and not make a quick decision.

More than a third of users say dating apps present too many options, according to a 2022 Pew Research Center survey. The study also found that around 30% of adults have used a dating app, yet 10% of adults in a relationship said they met their spouse or partner online.

We don’t do any of these addictive things that some of these apps do nowadays. If you play any type of mobile game, they have ways to keep you coming back again and again and again, Spaulding said.

The app also minimizes a profile photo icon to emphasize values ​​over appearances, he said.

You know nothing about the person. Just see the picture and swipe left or right, Spaulding said. People are getting tired of his shallowness.

Kathryn Coduto, an assistant professor of media science at Boston University and a dating app researcher, said it’s smart of Weaver to focus on one specific city.

Part of the reason dating apps took off in the first place was because of their geolocation features, she said.

But if someone is on a dating app, they’re probably on others, she said. It makes it difficult for singles to escape the frustration of online dating.

Often you end up hitting the same people, Coduto said.

Rudolph Weavers said they are hopeful to overcome the stigma most cities like Tampa face, where locals think their home is the worst to hang out in.

The bottom line is that there are singles everywhere, Rudolph said. No matter what the city is stereotypically known for, they’re always there and they’re always in trouble.

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Image Source : www.tampabay.com

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