tibit is one of the most interesting and challenging start-ups I have had dealings with over the past year. A couple of weeks back I spent the day with 3 of their team, Justin, Iain and Rosemin, helping to man their stall at Wordcamp, a festival and celebration of all things WordPress related.
In between pitching tibit to an assortment of brainy, techie types queuing for lunch (all of whom were intrigued by the concept), I found myself chatting to Caroline Sullivan, the Guardian’s renowned music journalist, and attending Render Positive Jon Buchan’s awesome speech on the power of marketing and the written word. If it had been a virtual presentation, I would have tibbed it.
Incidentally, that’s where tibit gets its name from: “tibit”. It’s phonetic, you see. Now here’s the thing; from a PR and marketing perspective, as someone who has installed the tibit widget and proudly display it in the corner of this blog, well, I guess I’m looking to receive some tibs!
It’s not because I’m greedy, reader; any given readers’ tib is worth a maximum of 75p, the expected average tib is just 15p, it’s just, I want to see this work, I believe it will. And here’s why:
tibit are doing it for themselves!
What I love about tibdit is that their founders aren’t in this to make a quick buck. Sure, they’d like to fundraise, increase marketing spend, take on more staff to handle the code that goes into making the product simple and rewarding to use, and fill the last 4 seats in their office located on the bleeding edge of London’s start-up scene, next to Peckham Rye rail station! But everything they have done to date has been so considered, so deliberate, and it sets tibit apart.
The team won’t compromise: on anything!
As a PR man, hearing Justin and Pauline pitch tibit can be a painful experience at times (forgive me guys, and read on!). It’s like they are still debating the merits of the product between themselves, guilty, at times, of “accentuating the negative”. But this is actually a good sign.
To explain. Recently I have been bombarded with invitations to cover money transfer start-ups, but the problem is, they are so generic. How many different ways do we need to send money abroad? Very few seem to have developed a brand, or a distinguishing feature; a reason to exist other than to make money. Even Transferwise seems a little bland, unless you happen to like watching semi-naked models cavorting around the world’s banking districts. tibit is totally different; its idiosyncratic, differentiated, and you can relate to it.
tibit strikes the right balance
tibit is part social media, part micropayment. Part Facebook like or twitter favourite, and part monetisation. This has never really been done before. Ok, there are rivals in the micropayment and online tipping spaces, but to my mind, they lack personality or definition.
You can’t level that accusation at tibit. What’s ironic is that whilst the founders insist that the act of tibbing should be subconscious, something you barely need to think about, you get the impression they care deeply about the rationale behind every tib. Again, to my mind, this is what makes it a potential game changer, but it’s also the reason for its slow adoption. Which may be about to change.
This could scale very, very fast
In theory, there is nothing preventing the adoption of tibdit on a pretty large scale. Haggerston Times is read roughly 4,000 times each month. Let’s say 1% of readers are encouraged to sign up for a tibit account, 40 people. They each purchase £5 of tibs. Now they need somewhere to spend those tibs (they are of course, welcome, to spend them all with Haggerston Times!).
But let’s assume there are 40 blogs out there that decide to accept tibs, either because they have read about the product, seen it at Wordcamp or a bloggers Meetup, or have been prompted to do so by an enthusiastic reader who has recently purchased some tibs. So there are 40 blogs each signing up 40 readers per month each spending £5 on tibs, with 40 more blogs onboarding each month. At the end of 6 months, I make that £48,000 in circulation.
That’s a back of a fag packet calculation, but I believe it to be a fairly conservative estimate, because we haven’t factored in the use of tibdit to unlock minor online services, release content, or considered sites with a larger numbers of readers.
tibit is in business for the right reasons!
Cannot overstate the importance of this one: I have alluded to it throughout this post, but the care taken to date, the drip feeding, the exhaustive market research, the endless discussions about what kind of free T-shirts to give away and the intense, hackathon style coding all-nighters, all add up, eventually, to a formidable proposition.
Above all, the beauty of the business case is its appeal. When I first sat down to think about who might use tibit, I supposed it would be underground, edgy, hipster sites: Reddit, Bitcoin news, wacky chatrooms, but now I have completely revised my opinion. All of the above, sure, but why not mumsnet? Why not the Huffington Post, Trip Advisor, StyleBubble, or friendly Neighbourhood Ned’s coin collection blog? It’s a broad church, the internet; tibit can help to knit the community together.
So that, in a nutshell, is why I’m keeping my tibjar. I’m excited. Like many bloggers, I can be vain, shallow, sensitive and in need of encouragement. A bit like Ed Miliband. So, should the tib jar start to fill, will you see my productivity increase, my content sharpen, my readership increase. Hell yes! “Hell yes I’m strong enough!” I will catch myself repeating to myself, in front of the mirror.
How many tibs do I have now? 23. How many would I like? I’m not greedy. What would I most like to see tibdit do? Provide a range of different button styles; I know which one I want, and I’m waiting for the release.
tibit is today embarking upon a crowdfunding campaign with Seedrs; stay tuned for more info, or contact Justin or Pauline for details.