JustTip brings tipping into the contactless age

Fast-growing platform JustTip allows employers to help staff to earn more while keeping their businesses compliant with new legislation.

Led by Ciara Walsh and James Fahy, the cashless tipping system prpvides a tipping platform separate to your business with end-to-end transaction reports and complete transparency for employees and customers.

“Post Covide-19, the use of cash has significantly reduced, we identified this and reacted by building a transparent and equitable payment platform for gratuities,” she explained.

“JustTip is building a fair and equitable tipping ecosystem within the hospitality, charity and micropayment industries”

“The JustTip Platform is a contactless payments platform allowing customers to tip staff directly through e-payment, enabling employees to earn more while also protecting removing the tax liability and administration burden faced by employers. JustTip provides employees and employers with complete transparency for all tips, bringing businesses in-line with new legislation.”

Walsh pointed out that the hospitality market in the Ireland and the UK is worth around $70bn. “From this we estimate that around $3bn-to-$5bn is tipped in these markets annually, however over $185bn is tipped in the United States on average every year.

“JustTip also serves other key markets like charities and micropayments. The reduction in cash has effected the charity industry all over the world, therefore we work with many charity partners to help provide the much needed technology for digital donations. JustTip is building a fair and equitable tipping ecosystem within the hospitality, charity and micropayment industries,” Walsh explained.

Tipped for success

She said that at present the JustTip platform powers two core products, a contactless tipping terminal, ideal for a point-of-sale (POS) system, and a QR code that can be printed for any surface. Both products allow customers to tip staff directly.

The tap to tip terminal is built for fast pace environments, where customers pay at the till, for example coffee shops. To leave a tip you simply tap your  bank card or smartphone against the terminal with a transaction processed in 3-5 seconds. The QR code is built for a more relaxed environment, such as a restaurant table or a hotel room when tipping house cleaning staff. All you need is a smartphone with a camera!

A different path

James Fahy (CEO, 22) and Ciara Walsh (CMO, 21) are two young Irish entrepreneurs who noticed this gap in the market during the pandemic.

James found the inspiration for JustTip while in a restaurant, realising he didn’t have the cash to tip.

Ciara and James, who are close friends for many years, bring both experience and energy to the young team leveraging strategic advisors who work closely to shape the direction of the platform where there are knowledge gaps. Together, at the age of 19, they built a product tailored to the needs of the industry and this has been crucial for the success to date.

“The beauty of entrepreneurship is anyone can do it. From a young age I have always loved the idea of starting my own business,” Fahy explained.

“Ciara and I started JustTip at a young age relative to other founders for the simple reason of, if you want to make a positive change you must endeavour to do so despite the risks and blockers, just start and the rest will fall into place. I knew a simple salary would never satisfy me, after all it is essentially a drug businesses give you to forget about you dreams. For me, to be an entrepreneur you opt for a life that is different to the norm. This path that you undertake comes with the highest of the highs and the lows of the lows, but evidentially the initial passion that drove you to peruse this life is the reason why you continue to peruse your goals.”

Ciara recalls: “I never saw myself as an entrepreneur until we founded JustTipp, I have always been a creative person but didn’t even consider myself to have the skills needed to start and run a business. During those first few months, working on the project with James, I saw a whole new skillset emerge and the constant challenges and subsequent learnings is something I really thrived on. The experience of building a product and brand from the ground up is something I want to continue to do for a long time.”

Pay it forward

Walsh describes the Irish start-up ecosystem as a phenomenal network to be a part of. “Everyone involved comes together to build, disrupt and peruse the initial dream we all set out to build. To date, the support we have received though events, coffee-chats and mentoring has been the making for JustTip. We have been lucky enough to be selected for Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-up Unit, particularly being the youngest founders at 22 and 21.

“Enterprise Ireland have been incredibly supportive of the business. Another founder in the network, once told us that being Irish founded you just have to pay it forward when the next person asks us for help. This message shows the strength of the Irish start-up eco-system and a clear indication of why it is among the best in the world.”

She said the company will commence fundraising in the year ahead. “We will be fund raising soon. Over the last year and a half we have been learning more and more about our business and customers. This first stage was funded by a small number of investors, and now we are at a stage where we are confident about our business model and we will be looking for further investment to scale our business.  The money raised will go towards improving our technology and purchasing additional terminal that are much needed for growth. Future investors will be funding expansion as opposed to us learning.”

Teamwork is essential to the success or failure of a start-up. “The biggest lesson we have learnt so far is that the most important part of your business is your team. Bringing in the wrong people in an early stage business can drain the lifeblood of the company and hinder your early success. You will make mistakes when hiring and building your team but the most important thing to do is learn from them and make those mistakes early.

“Additionally, it is important that your business actually makes money from its products and services. Figure out what makes a good customer and keep learning more about your current and potential customer base. In our case, a good customer is one where they make more money for their staff, and are therefore delighted to have our product.”

Her advice for fellow founders is to embrace failure and not fear it. “Fail, fail and fail again. Failure when starting a business is completely normal. As a founder you are left to answer all the questions despite not having the answer to most. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. You will fail but fail fast and fail cheap, but above all learn everything you can from every failure. Being an entrepreneur can also be a lonely job, finding the right co-founder when starting a business is essential – a problem shared is a problem halved. Finally, enjoy the journey and celebrate the little things. Tomorrow will bring new problems for you to solve so don’t forget to enjoy yourself!”

Using technology to stay agile is at the heart of the business.

“The JustTip platform, or ‘Tina’ as we call it, is a fintech platform designed to collect, hold and distribute gratuities to employees. As we continue to evolve the platform, we are focused on the next generation, with an update planned after our seed round. We do know that we now have to invest for the future, and continually improve our tech offerings.

“We must build our tech to meet our ambitious growth objectives. Whilst technologies and tools are incredibly useful in staying agile, nothing beats having the team in the office and all on the same page! It is the best way to adjust and implement change across the entire business.”

John Kennedy
Award-winning ThinkBusiness.ie editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.