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UCL students’ friendly app grows in popularity

9 March 2012

Tipgain BMIC

With more than a million smartphone applications available worldwide, and more than 19,000 new ones being added every week, it takes something really innovative to stand out from the crowd.

UCL student business Tipgain received international recognition at the BMIC University Mobile Challenge, held in Barcelona recently, for its mobile app that allows users to share marketing promotions using their social networks in exchange for discounts for spreading the message.

Berkeley Mobile International Collaborative is a non-profit educational organisation dedicated to creating strategic relationships between mobile companies, universities and students. The University Mobile Challenge helps entrepreneurial students to build innovative mobile applications.

During the competition 40 teams from seven countries – UK, USA, Canada, India, France, Egypt and Spain – were required to build a working mobile or tablet application, develop a business model, gather market data and present their business opportunity to a panel of judges which include venture capital partners and BMIC sponsors such as Appcentral, The Alchemist Series, LabOne and GSM Association.


Tipgain, founded by UCL MSc Technology Entrepreneurship graduate Martin Poschenrieder, was one of 14 teams to go through to the semi-finals, and was runner-up in its group, narrowly missing a place in the final.

Martin says: “It was an invaluable experience to present alongside other young start-up entrepreneurs from across the world. We received great feedback - we got advice on how we can take Tipgain to the next level.”

Tipgain was also the overall winner of the London Entrepreneur’s Challenge 2010. The competition is part of a programme of events designed to enhance UCL’s reputation for entrepreneurship and build deeper relationships between UCL and partner institutions.

Martin says: “Winning the London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge really kicked off our idea. After a few months’ arduous work and bootstrapping, a prototype was ready. More importantly, we had a commitment from two customers to test and use our service.”

Tipgain had soon completed a campus trial with Costa Coffee, offering a free coffee in exchange for referrals to fellow students, to test the technology and user interaction. Costa gave away more than 70 cups in less than two hours. Martin and his business partner Markus Jura, whom he met when they worked at Accenture, have since held trials with two other restaurant chains.

Lillian Shapiro, UCL Advances’ Student Business Advisor, says: “Events like the BMIC University Mobile Challenge enable young entrepreneurs to become more visible and valued among their peers as well as gain early access to the help and guidance of digital leaders.

“Tipgain stands out through the credibility and professionalism of the team, ably led by Martin who has been highly focused from the start on what needs to be done to achieve success. After several successful pilot studies, Martin and Markus are incorporating feedback into Tipgain’s product development. Tipgain has gained the confidence of customers, and they are already negotiating contracts – unusual for a start-up at such an early stage.”