Steffan Aquarone, who founded Droplet with Will Grant in a Birmingham coffee house in January 2012, is heading to ‘Silicon Valley’ to hold a series of meetings with venture capital firms.
The aim is to raise enough funding to take the unique payment system national, after an initial trial in the UK’s second city attracted 1000 users and more than 50 merchants (Urban Coffee Company, Bodega Restaurant and Loki being the first adopters) in just three months.
Plans are also well underway to sign up Centro, Chiltern Trains, Hotel La Tour and Birmingham City University, whilst a deal is imminent with Touchwood Shopping Centre in Solihull to launch it in the first mixed retail space.
“Silicon Valley is where Facebook and Twitter got their first big investments and is recognised as the best place in the world to attract backing for technology businesses,” explained Steffan, who will be out there for two weeks.
“We want to prove that it’s not just the Americans who can come up with the ‘next big ideas’. The Droplet model, which was born in the heart of Birmingham and established by a UK team, has already attracted interest from investors and now we’re going out to show them how it works, face-to-face.”
He continued: “Mobile payment is a fast growing marketplace and our vision is to change the way the world uses money by making payments free. This is unique compared to other payment businesses and that’s the big selling point of our business model.”
Droplet is a free of charge mobile money app that lets you load cash onto your phone and send payments to anyone for free.
It is the first app of its kind that lets you send payments completely outside of the traditional banking and credit card systems.
Instead users can just top up their account via their phone, similar to how you’d draw money out of a cash point.
Co-founder Will Grant said the team we’re thrilled with the response to the recent Beta Test in Birmingham: “When we started Droplet we genuinely didn’t know whether people would want to take part, but everyone’s been telling us how simple and easy it is to use and how they’re happy to try anything that’s not tied to the banks.
“Our model is unique. Instead of charging for payments, we make money if companies choose to offer extra services through the app. For example, we are working with some major organisations on projects ranging from parking your car to ordering drinks on the way to the theatre.”
He added: “One user even tried living for a month by just using Droplet payments and she managed everything but transport. Something we’re already addressing.”
Droplet is currently available on the iPhone and an Android version will be launched at the beginning of February.
Having added David Roberts and Andy Smart as co-founders last Spring to develop the technology, the business has also extended its core team to eight, including Karen Hughes who is the former head of brand for Visa Europe.
The national expansion will involve a major event in London in March and a sustained on-the-ground effort to promote the app in Brighton, Bristol, Leeds and Manchester.
Steffan concluded: “It’s great that a Birmingham company with a Birmingham-born idea is changing the way we use money… better still the rest of the world is sitting up and taking notice.
“I’ll also be using my time in Silicon Valley to pick up any tips on networks and tech incubators and bring them back to benefit other like-minded businesses in the City.”
For further information, visit https://dropletpay.com or follow @dropletpay on twitter.