AN ENTREPRENEUR is looking to challenge global travel site TripAdvisor with his new augmented reality app designed to help city visitors find the best places to eat, drink and be merry.
Since Grant Thompson launched Tipll four months ago, more than 1,500 users have downloaded the free app and more than 40 bars and restaurants have signed up to be part of it.
Grant, of Durham City, said: “Technology is changing the way people go out for a drink, whether that be through research beforehand or finding out through social media. We’ve created a platform that brings them altogether in one easy to use app – Tipll.
“It’s not just for students or tourists. If you don’t have a solid plan and you don’t know a city you can end up wandering around, getting disorientated. That can happen to anyone and it takes the fun out of an event.”
Grant is a former semi-professional rugby player who played for Newcastle Falcons before pursuing a career in direct sales. The entrepreneur launched a successful promotions business, catering for stag and hen parties and corporate entertainment in cities before spotting a gap in the market for Tipll.
“We promote venues directly to users before they even take one step into their establishments using augmented reality – the ability to scan an area and find out what deals and promotions are around. We also use geofield notifications to text them with a promotion when they’re in a certain area.”
The app has been launched in Newcastle but will soon be rolled out in Sunderland and Durham. It is free to download but the bars and restaurant pay a fee to be on the Tipll map. It works by asking users five questions before coming up with the best places to visit suitable to the users’ personal drink and venue preferences.
Grant says he’s received a great deal of support from Business Durham, the economic development organisation for County Durham, working on behalf of Durham County Council.
Said Grant: “Business Durham has been a significant help with introductions into the Durham business network. We want to keep this business in Durham and use the resources in County Durham to create a tourist platform that will challenge the like of TripAdvisor while concentrating on the user experience and using new technology to enhance people’s experience of cities across the UK.”
Sarah Slaven, interim managing director of Business Durham, said: “There are so many opportunities for high-tech businesses in the North East and it’s fantastic to see Grant taking advantage of that. We have the right environment, skills and support for Tipll and many others to thrive. We’re looking forward to working with Grant as he introduces Tipll to the world.”
The next step for Grant is securing investment. He would like the app to allow users to scan and pay for their food, drinks and theatre tickets. He wants to expand the number of establishments shown, including coffee shops, theatres and cinemas and also add a ‘find a friend’ option, in case people are running late or they’ve become separated from their friends.