From dating apps to LinkedIn intros to Instagram DMs, a good chunk of our in-person interactions today start in the digital world. Brad Loflin and Roy Odima saw an opportunity to better facilitate digital introductions…and along the way created a new way to think about financial technology.
Loflin and Odima founded Tabbi as a social mobile app and fintech platform mixed together, which the team refers to as a “social fintech.” This addresses two main pain points associated with going out for a night on the town: How can you best meet up with someone and how do you split the bill at the end of the night?
The term “social fintech” came about when Loflin and Odima started thinking about what it would look like to bring people together based on location. The platform helps users find friends while out and then more seamlessly split the check at the end of the night.
Loflin is clear to distinguish that Tabbi is not sharing your location with other users at all times. Instead, location-sharing is designed to allow for ambient proximity messaging between connections.
On the fintech side of the equation, Tabbi aims to make “closing a bar tab as easy as getting out of an Uber,” Loflin added. That means eliminating the back-and-forth of handing your card over to a bartender or waiter at the end of the night to pay a tab.
That helps restaurants work through operational challenges and post-pandemic pain points. For restaurants, the platform eliminates dine and dash concerns, streamlines the back-and-forth of swiping credit cards for multiple people in a group, and creates a fully contactless experience.
Tabbi integrates with various POS systems and is free for bars to use. It adds a nominal transaction fee to users.
Loflin said the team is going after restaurants and bars in Greenville and the Southeast first, along with the “going out” and young adult crowd looking to connect with people in their city.
Getting Social in Greenville
Loflin and Odima worked in the restaurant operations space previously and both independently ended up in Greenville for jobs years back. The idea was first hatched in the summer of 2020 but the current iteration of the social fintech platform was born in May of 2021.
Building something like Tabbi in Greenville offers a unique opportunity for the early-stage fintech platform.
Loflin said a smaller city like Greenville allowed Tabbi to move “a little incognito and to refine the product with a fairly forgiving group of people. It’s different than launching a product in San Francisco where everybody’s seen 1000 startups and where they’re a little jaded towards it.”
The team has been “heads down” building the product, raising capital, and preparing for its iOS app store launch this summer. But they have been practicing what they preach, so to say, by being social and introducing people to local bartenders with the Tabbi Hour Podcast.