Uganda’s TiKiTi seeks financing for scale after breaking even

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Ugandan event location and booking app TiKiTi is seeking investment of up to US$500,000 in order to expand its operations both at home and abroad after reaching a break-even point.

TiKiTi, a product of Ugandan startup Ignition Group launched in October of last year during the Kampala City Festival, is a free mobile application on Android, IOS and BlackBerry that offers users a convenient way to locate, book and pay for events and services.

It does this through a locator, and a payment system that allows users to pay with mobile money, credit cards or PayPal. Ticketing and receipting is conducted via QR codes.

Alvin Kato, managing partner at Ignition Group, told Disrupt Africa TiKiTi was built to solve use problems in finding information on events and services, and save them extra expense and inconvenience in locating events and booking tickets for them.

“For businesses, there is a loss of revenue through duplicate tickets, high risk and cost of handling cash at events, and lack of adequate and effective promotion for events,” Kato said.

The app is not without its competition, with Kato saying this ranged from the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter to local ticket printers and web-based ticketing alternatives.

“Every app competes for space, data and time of the prospective user. TiKiTi competes directly with hard copy ticket printing companies,” he said.

However, TiKiTi is different to its competitors, according to Kato. It offers location-based notifications of events complete with promo videos, and has a tap-and-go payment platform using mobile money, unlike any other app.

“TiKiTi is a one-stop-shop for events and services with a wide offering that will see that people do not need to download six or seven different apps for functionality that can be done by one app,” Kato said.

The app is currently bootstrapped, with Ignition financing the project from other small established businesses under its umbrella. Kato said the team is looking for further financing – between US$400,000 and US$500,000 to scale up the business, expand to other countries and further market the product. The startup is one of 10 from Uganda that will pitch at the Seedstars World competition in Kampala later this week.

“We would invest this money in the Merchant Model whereby we would book and have tickets for events and services bought from the promoter at wholesale price to then resell them at retail price and with the leg room to offer discounts,” he said.

“We would invest in an aggressive marketing campaign to see that TiKiTi becomes the go-to app for rewards, discounts, tickets, services and more. We would push the campaign across Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.”

Though the startup is currently only operating in Uganda, Kato said the system is already set up for the whole of Africa.

“We intend to have the user select the country that they are in and then get content for that country. We intend to use the franchising model if we do not get financing elsewhere,” he said.

With TiKiTi having recently broken even, Kato says he is confident revenues will continue to grow. The startup makes money through advertising, with interactive banners that also come with promotional products or service videos.

“We have location-based and time-set notifications that are also paid for,” Kato said. “We also charge for locator services.”

The lack of financing to promote TiKiTi has been a problem, as has the cost of internet for users, which Kato says has seen people prioritise “big apps” like WhatsApp and Facebook and pay little attention to small new ones. He also highlights people’s slow adaptation to new technology, especially event promoters and service providers.

But he is confident of a profitable future, based on the fees the startup is able to charge for its banners and extra revenues such as commissions on ticket sales. With five clients per section, Kato believes TiKiTi can expect gross monthly revenue of US$30,500 before too long.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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