When we started TipStart I felt a childish excitement about ‘launching’. I’d seen the Apprentice, I knew how it would go down.
It was a huge team effort to bring TipStart v.1 to life and it was amazingly motivating to see each person contributing their part of the jigsaw, to make it happen. Once we’d launched, there was absolutely a period of team burnout and disengagement. At the time, I was proud of what we’d done, but the idea of re-launching would have sent me running for the hills.
And yet, here we are, re-launching two years later. Why did we choose to do that?
Whilst our mission remains the same, our approach to delivering it has changed. We started life as a not for profit (NFP) staffed by a brilliant team of volunteers. After a year operating under this model, it was clear that our status as an NFP would prevent us reaching the level of impact we aspired to. We explored a CIC and Limited by Guarantee approach, but kept running into the same legal and financial hurdles. I recognise that for some, the idea of TipStart being for profit will be uncomfortable. It has been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make. But having made it, and seen what we are about to bring to market, I feel confident it’s the right choice for us as a company but also for our future TipStarters - many of whom we’d never have been able to support as a not for profit. Scalability remains a critical component of what makes TipStart special.
We have also changed our service and created a product. Our service - the TipStart programme - has been redesigned from the ground up. This work started with an introspective evaluation of what we thought was good and bad about TipStart. We then reached out to the users that had taken part in v.1 of our programme. The engagement was brilliant, diverse and thorough. We uncovered perspectives we never would have recognised as the product creators. Our new programme remains flexible and low burden, but provides a month-by-month handrail to maximise the impact users are able to extract from the experience.
A piece of feedback that we kept coming back to, was the need for a more effective and user-friendly platform on which to host the programme. Emails kept getting lost in junk. The algorithm could only utilise 4 data points (check out Angus’ blog on building our algorithm, here). There was no mechanism by which users could easily update their preferences. We knew we needed an app, and we’ve spent 12 months learning that app development is difficult. I’m incredibly grateful to the team we’ve brought in to help build it with us, who have shown patience and been encouraging as we’ve up-skilled as a founder team. Because of our new app, the time between a company signing up and the programme starting can be less than 30 minutes. Ease of use is another critical component of what makes TipStart special.
We are now 2 weeks away from launching, again.