Only ten to 15 per cent of British households switch their utilities suppliers each year, meaning the UK wastes billions of pounds annually paying increased rates on bills and subscriptions. Keeping on top of bills, subscriptions and available deals can be difficult and confusing, and it often takes hours to research and switch providers.
We’re building a global subscription store – ApTap – to bring clarity and control to customers’ fingertips. In the first instance, it’s an embedded, data-driven comparison and switching tool but will evolve to be much more.
We find and organise customers’ recurring payments, then do an automatic comparison of their bills with deals on the market. Using financial and utilities data, we match customers to their best deal, and help them cancel, switch and sign up directly from their banking or budgeting app.
ApTap integrates into any fintech, bank or money management platform to increase user engagement and drive new revenue for our partners.
Where did the idea originate?
The idea originated at a Founders of the Future event alongside Santander, where we were given insights into the Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and open banking. We brainstormed the idea that evening and over the next 16 hours wrote our first business plan!
We iterated from a personal financial management tool and have developed the idea into a subscription control centre for anyone who pays bills. Clarity and control have always been central to ApTap, as we help people understand how, when and what they’re paying for, and then empower them to take action.
How did your team meet?
The team met on the football pitch playing for Imperial College London and have been friends ever since. All three co-founders are Imperial College STEM graduates. We spent countless hours over the first 18 months of the journey in the Imperial Enterprise Lab, where we ideated and pivoted to get to where we are today.
Our team is diverse in background and education, which gives us hugely different perspectives and allows us to tap into different opportunities.
Do you have any advisers?
We have a number of advisers who have become involved serendipitously or through the founders’ networks. The mentors at the Imperial Enterprise Lab really helped us take our first steps in building a business.
What stage is the business at and what are your plans moving forward?
We’ve recently launched a partnership with TSB Bank, which sees us rolling out our bill management tools to their five million customers. We’re now a team of 11, with backgrounds from all around the world. Over the next few years, we plan on growing our client base, the number of industries we cover and the team.
Are you raising funding? If so, what will you use the funds for?
We’re currently raising a further £500,000 to add to our half a million raise last winter. This will allow us to service other clients and add a number of new industry verticals.
What’s been your biggest success so far?
Our greatest achievement commercially has been our ability to build up a marketplace of over 50 suppliers in utilities and telecoms, and bring those relationships to TSB Bank. We’re very proud of the funding rounds we’ve closed and investors we’ve brought on board but, most importantly, we’re proud of the incredible team being built at ApTap.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
There are many ‘chicken and egg’ scenarios we’ve had to face, with learning curves from tech to sales to funding and everything in between. The biggest challenge is staying focused on the true value we can bring to customers, since there are so many amazing things we could build – the ability to zoom in and out is one of the most valuable traits in a founder.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
The importance of finding a good work–life balance can’t be understated. The stigma is to always be working but that’s simply not sustainable. You’ll make plenty of sacrifices in your time as a founder or entrepreneur, so remember to take some time for yourself, the people you care about and the things you love doing. At the end of the day, keep an open mind and work really hard!
What support did you get from Imperial?
The time with mentors and the workspace via the Imperial Enterprise Lab really helped us get on our feet. Building a business for the first time is no easy feat, but to do so fresh out of university is even harder. The resources the E-Lab offered us as we got started were invaluable.
Pitch and Mix has always been a fantastic place for us to test and improve our pitching and presentations. Without this safe space, we’d have been thrown in at the deep end at major events later on in our business lifecycle.
The Venture Catalyst Challenge (VCC) helped us focus on what our core value might be for customers. This is something that took us time to shape, so going through the motions at VCC allowed us to structure the way we honed our value proposition.