Mobile payments are rapidly becoming a mature market, with several major banks and tech companies seeking to grab a share of the pie.

New startup Tipit is bravely taking on the finance giants, focusing specifically on a niche part of the payments market – tipping.

I spoke to founder Renate Kalnina to find out more…

In one sentence, what is your product/service?

Tipit is the only mobile service that lets you send and/or receive tips directly to and from a bank account.

What problem(s) does it solve?

This solution will:

  1. Provide an opportunity to receive a tip when clients don’t have cash (in emerging cashless societies those working individuals who heavily rely on tips increasingly face reduced cash flows).
  2. Allow businesses to ‘sign off’ tips as a business expense thus contributing more to the tips and generating more income for waiters.
  3. Enable waiting staff to declare this as an official income to acquire mortgage, bank loan or other credit.
  4. Turn a shadow economy (cash-in-hand) into more formal and controlled environment. 

What are your immediate goals?

One of the most important things is to complete the developments that will integrate a secure payment gateway. 

This would prepare us for the initial UK launch this summer. We aim to be fully functioning and established in the UK within the next 12 months.

Another immediate goal is to secure funding to support the trial and further developments as well as promotion.

Thus we are launching the crowd-funding campaign and seeking other funding streams. 

What were the biggest challenges involved in building the tech or your team?

The biggest challenge so far has not been related to tech or the team but, as for most startups, capital acquisition. 

I’ve been supporting the startup with the internal resources and have had great help from the technical lead, Lee, who has taken on the build and development in return for equity. 

However, to roll it out and acquire a critical mass we still have to secure the extra cash. 

Lee and I have known each other for at least six years thus the mutual trust and working process is very well established. 

How will the company make money?

Tipit will take a small percentage from each tip. The exact amount will be worked out based on the bank charges and third-party charges (secure payment gateway).

Who is in your team?

The core team is small but very knowledgeable and experienced in the digital/technology industry. 

I’m the founder and am overseeing project delivery, partnerships, campaign execution and funding acquisition.  

Lee Hazlehurst is our technical lead, and Cleo Flelding and Dan Morris are supporting the Tipit crowd-funding campaign. 

Where would you like to be in one, three and five years’ time?

In one year we would like to be fully operational within the UK. Also the aim is to introduce Tipit to the US within the next 12 months. 

In three years we would like to be fully operational in the US, Germany, Poland, Netherlands, Austria and other European countries where tipping culture is established and/or growing.

In five years the ambition is to be a global tipping service. 

Other than your own, what are your favorite websites/apps/tools?

For me Whatsapp is great for instant cross-border communications since I have a large international contact base.

Also, I am a big fan of Econsultancy and have been following the company for many years. 

For the others in the Tipit team:

  • Lee: “As a developer rather than user I quite like ‘Inbox’ by Gmail at the moment.”
  • Cleo: “My favourites are Airbnb and Myfitnesspal.”
  • Dan: “Definitely Nike Football app; excellent for anyone with an interest in football.”