Marketing Executive at Xenia Tech – an offshoring development agency based in London, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We are experts in Web/App development. With an industry-standard outsourcing process, we have been making great products since 2017 for clients all over the globe.
Bao: How did you come up with the idea?
TipDisc: The pandemic reshaped the world economy in unprecedented ways. Entire industries went digital seemingly overnight, and new sectors were born as a result. Restaurants and other organizations in the service industry were forced to quickly pivot to a new business model to continue functioning. While many restaurants were fortunate enough to stay open throughout 2020, many others were not. In the U.S., the pandemic forced roughly 110,000 restaurants and eateries to shut down. Those that survived are finding it difficult to attract and retain workers.
However, despite the massive amount of business casualties and the pandemic’s lasting impact on our lives, there remains a silver lining.
The crisis shed new light on how vitally important service industry workers truly are. The brave men and women who prepared and delivered our food during the pandemic demonstrated the importance of this portion of the workforce.
But were they always compensated enough? Are there other professions in the service industry that would enjoy the ability to have tips sent to them for outstanding service?
The idea behind TipDisc was thought up as an easy solution for customers to tip service industry workers who otherwise don’t have a practical way of accepting tips from customers. The goal was to create an intuitive tool that could make digital tip transfers easy and painless and simultaneously benefit the customer, employee, and business.
In many Western countries, if one wishes to add a tip to their restaurant bill they can either leave a cash tip or add it to the total of their card transaction. This is commonplace in the United States for example but is generally only limited to restaurants, bars, and hair salons just to name a few. But what about service industry jobs that lack an easy way to provide a tip, such as an accountant, travel agent, or barista? What about locations where tipping isn’t as traditional, such as the United Kingdom? This was ultimately the issue to address.
As only one in five people carry cash, and nearly half of all transactions are made via debit or credit card, an intuitive and contactless solution to tipping was long overdue.
Because service workers in the UK are mostly low-paid, tips for outstanding service are a great means of support for those struggling, especially those reeling from the lasting effects of the pandemic. People often find themselves in the precarious situation of wanting to leave a tip, but not having the cash on hand to do so. Non-tip businesses generally don’t have an easy way for a customer to add a credit or debit card tip for good service. This is ultimately the problem that needed to be solved, and TipDisc offers a solution to the issue.
The goal was to provide solutions that allow customers to tip with their card instantly, not only for the staff to get the tips but also for the company’s sake as such an action will make the staff happier, more motivated, and result-driven; which generally improves customer satisfaction and profits. Satisfied customers are more likely to tip and return once again to do the same.
With this solution, everybody wins.
Bao: Why “TipDisc” and not another name?
Tipdisc: The tip portion of the name is self-explanatory. As for the other half, the prototype of the product was originally in a disc-shaped holder. Hence the name TipDisc. Inside the disc is a tablet with running software that allows customers to simply tap their card and provide tips instantly. However, the name might not be permanent.
As the United Kingdom is beginning to open up its service sector in the wake of the pandemic, we are growing and scaling quickly, leading to many changes and reconfigurations. The finished product is vastly different from the prototype, due to countless improvements and upgrades to its design during beta testing. This is normal in the development of a product. Thus, the company will likely alter the name to better describe the product and enhance branding as we move forward and the product evolves, and we hear feedback from our users. This will without a doubt result in a more efficient product with sleeker UI and UX components.
Bao: What was the original challenge you had that led you to look for development?
Tipdisc: By far the biggest hurdle in developing the product was startup expenditures and making the whole process cost-effective. As a single entrepreneur with no large company behind me and a very limited budget, I had to get creative without being reckless.
It was imperative to develop the product on a budget while still receiving the best possible value for my money. This wasn’t easy at first and led to many internal dilemmas. Do I cut my losses and go with a well-established design company? Should I go as cheap as possible to accommodate my budget while still having a financial cushion in case something went astray?
Initially, I chose not to work with smaller companies due to the fear that they may be here today and gone tomorrow. Or even worse, I ran the risk of developers just quitting halfway through the project - not out of the question during uncertain economic times. This would be a nightmare.
I hoped for a company of a particular size that could meet my requirements and cost expectations. I eventually came to the understanding that working with an offshore agency was the optimal choice. Doing so was the best option to see that my vision would be implemented correctly and made into a valuable product for people across the globe.
I eventually met with Will in Danang, Vietnam and we began to talk about a development plan. His knowledge and expertise were immediately clear. Thus, I felt confident he and his team possessed the resources to meet my requirement and cost projections. The entire experience exceeded all expectations, and I have absolutely zero regrets about the decision to develop offshore with Xenia.
Bao: What are the things you like the most about working with Xenia?
Tipdisc: The aspect I find most impressive is that Xenia Tech is always consistent with its resources. Even if a developer is on sick leave, there will always be others who fill in and seamlessly take on the role. They have technical leads and senior members that are well-informed experts in their field. This makes product management much easier and provides a sense of trust that I highly value in a design team.
The team always welcomes me at their office with warmhearted smiles and greetings. They are not only professional but also friendly and caring on a personal level. This was welcomed while doing business in a foreign country in an unfamiliar culture. I couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming and professional atmosphere.
One of the key elements that was extremely helpful was their weekly reports detailing work that had been recently undertaken. These comprehensive reports include project management hours, development hours, key milestones, problem fixes, and the project status as a whole.
Having that kind of all-encompassing information in one place helps make sure everyone is always on the same page regarding what progress has been made and what issues have arisen.
This was all completed in English and without any flaws in information. The whole organization functioned like a well-oiled machine.
Bao: What have first impressions been from bar owners you demoed to?
Tipdisc: I visited fifty venues and all of them unanimously stated, “Yes, we want this solution!” I am happy to report that the number of interested business owners outperformed my assumptions, and I am thrilled with the amount of positive feedback. That just goes to show that innovating for the better good truly resonates with people. The product speaks for itself and provides a sleek solution to a well-understood problem, so businesses are on board. This has saved valuable time and we have so far managed to avoid long and pricey business pitches as a result.
The positive response was significant because it proved my theory. People are genuinely open to giving tips so long as there is an easy means to do so.
Imagine a situation where you are completely satisfied with your service and hope to give extra compensation for a job well done, just to discover you are short on cash and have no way to transfer funds. This could lead to an unwanted awkward encounter that may or may not result in receiving their tip. However, by allowing customers the opportunity to send tips instantly, such as is the case with TipDisc, there is less chance of such an occurrence.
Apart from development matters, did you receive additional support for Xenia that played a significant role in your product launch and growth?
Hoang, who is the CTO, was a great help during product development by identifying the problems before they even existed. He and the team provide tremendous support and have kept me updated and in the loop throughout the entire process. Despite a few very minor pitfalls, the team’s communication and expertise have been impressive.
Besides development matters, my relationship with Will - CEO of Xenia Tech - is one of the key factors that has made TipDisc successful. I am no stranger to running a business, but I have never had a project that required so much scalability as this one did. Will’s expertise and experience as an entrepreneur proved invaluable. His knowledge and command of strategic investments are unparalleled. I feel privileged that I had the chance to work with him and hope to team up with him again soon.
Bao: Where do you think this product will go in the future?
Tipdisc: The product is certainly not just a tipping solution, it’s also a great tool for real-time performance and insightful metrics that can go a long way in improving customer service and increasing profits.
- If a staff member gets more tips than the other in the same shift with the same duties, it might be indicative of staff performance. The metrics can then be analyzed and used to solve staff issues.
- Every time there is a tip from the customer, the restaurant can send staff notifications of the tip.
This can be used to provide more motivation for the team and enhance staff performance. They will be able to know if the customer is satisfied, at that moment, instead of waiting until the end of the month or for the next sales report. Each staff can be allowed access to these metrics and will be able to measure their performance as well.
- Management can monitor in real-time and will quickly notice if there is a sudden decrease of tips, they can then take proactive action to identify issues “live”.
For example, managers can analyze a decrease in tips and work quickly to solve whatever issue exists might be the cause; whether it’s a bad Tripadvisor review or slow ticket times.
- Imagine if the owner is attempting to recruit top talent and can show the number of tips a staff member can earn working in their restaurant. By using data from TripDisc, the company can offer valuable insight to would-be employees which can go a long way in hiring and retaining talent. Additionally, employees are more likely to seek work at establishments that present them with extra opportunities to make money and prosper.
- A real-time metric to test new initiatives, for example: will rock band performance satisfy more than a DJ for my bar? Do customers prefer fast food over Mexican food? All these questions can be answered just by looking at the tip amount when doing the A/B test. All of this can be measured with TipDisc and be analyzed to optimize your businesses’ performance.
TipDisc will undoubtedly grow and evolve. At the moment, it stands as a practical and efficient way to tip service industry employees, or anyone for that matter, for an outstanding job well done. As the world’s economy continues to evolve, the app can easily be scaled to function in diverse ways to address new changes and accommodate users’ needs.