New Dating App ‘NADA’ Set To Pilot in Philadelphia

Key Insights:

  • New dating app NADA “Not Another Dating App” is launching in Philadelphia this month.
  • The online dating market is projected to grow to $28.4 billion by 2027.
  • NADA plans to partner with local businesses to curate date experiences for users.

When Earl Knight set out to create a new dating app, he intended to stand out from the crowd by addressing the commonly loathed issue of ghosting. Now, almost a year later, the app is set to debut by the end of the month.  

Knight met his partner on a dating app when he was in Los Angeles for the BET Awards and believes his venture Not Another Dating App (NADA) can do the same for others. 

“We did hang out and we enjoyed each other’s time. She ended up not going to the awards with me, but she’s my fiancee now,” Knight told The Plug. “The cool thing about it is I used Tinder the way I would use NADA today. I put a time, date and place that we would go into my bio.”

The premise of the application is that users curate an experience in addition to their profile that appears on the user feed. When swiping on the application, NADA users already have a potential date planned and in the books before chatting.  

Prototype of the NADA user feed depicting a date experience posted by a user.

“We want this app to be what saves your Friday. We want this app to be what helps you find your husband or your fiancee or your wife because we believe that when you have a face-to-face connection with someone, that’s the real connection,” Knight said, “Not text messaging, messaging back and forth and ghosting.” 

NADA isn’t Knight’s first hand in the startup scene either. He ran GoBabl, a location-based social media analytics platform, before eventually selling to investors after five years. 

Knight also has experience in the dating app business. He worked as a senior project manager at The Meet Group, a social networking group headquartered in New Hope, PA that makes apps such as MeetMe and Tagged.

“That’s where I found my love for dating apps and connecting people,” Knight said. 

From talking to people in the dating app industry, Knight learned that the biggest “gap” in the market is post-match. He believes that the way NADA is configured will encourage users to actually meet in person after the initial feeling of “euphoria” from matching with someone subsides. 

State of the online dating market

The online dating industry has been growing exponentially, but it is also a saturated market. 

The industry was valued at a whopping $12.4 billion in 2021 and is projected to grow to $28.4 billion by 2027, according to a ReportLinker analysis. A large share of the market is in the United States where, as of 2019, three in ten adults said they had used a dating website or application. 

A big player in the dating industry is Match Group, which includes popular apps Tinder, Match and Hinge. The company recently released its second-quarter earnings which ended on June 30, reporting total revenue of $795 million, a 12 percent increase over the prior-year quarter. 

There is no shortage of start-up dating apps that have failed such as Spoonr, which was marketed as Tinder for cuddling, and Alikewise, a website to connect people with similar reading interests. 

But some Black founders have successfully broken into the dating app space. BLK, a dating app for Black singles, has over seven million downloads. It is led by Jonathan Kirkland, the head of marketing and brand, but of note, the app is a subsidiary of Match Group.

Competition from dating conglomerates such as Match Group coupled with skepticism from venture capital firms makes it difficult for new and smaller businesses to gain traction. 

For Knight, VC backing is not a concern at the moment. NADA has been bootstrapped to date.

“We will start looking for investors after we launch, but we’re not in a hurry,” Knight said. “We know that this is going to be valuable to a lot of different organizations and companies.”

NADA does not plan to have advertisements on the platform. Instead, Knight said he plans to partner with businesses that will create date night experiences where users can meet. This is one way NADA will bring in revenue.

Another way Knight said he wants to make NADA stand out from the dating app crowd is by using the metaverse to create “NADAverse dating.” He is in the process of talking to metaverse providers to give users an opportunity to go on a date in the metaverse. This would allow a user in Philadelphia and one in Los Angeles, for example, to virtually go on a date at the Eiffel Tower. 

NADA’s team works remotely, spanning from Philadelphia to Houston to Ukraine. Knight and his fiancee, who does the content writing for NADA, are based in the Brewerytown section of Philadelphia. Aside from being his place of residence, Knight said Philadelphia is a great market for singles. 

Philadelphia ranked thirteenth on a list of best cities for dating during the pandemic. NADA will be available nationwide with Philadelphia as its pilot city.

“Philly is a great millennial city. There’s a bunch of universities around here and there’s also a bunch of great restaurants and just a bunch of great activities,” Knight said.

Up next for NADA is New York, Washington D.C., Atlanta and then Miami.

Alesia Bani

Alesia Bani is a writer and journalist from Philadelphia and The Plug’s Innovation Reporter covering the Black tech ecosystem in Philadelphia. She previously worked for the Institutional Diversity office at her alma mater Temple University and has a background in reporting on identity, DEI and local government.