“We have developed our tool to adapt and integrate with the digital ecosystem of every client”


Alexander Theis is the founder of Tink, a specialist reference software company. The start-up believes in the importance of clients and their opinions. That’s why they help companies to find customers who will stay loyal to the brand and help it grow with their Referral as a Service software.

Tink was created with the specific requirements of banks, insurance companies and telephone companies in mind. It has also been developed to fully adapt to the features and APIS required by both sectors. Today, Tink leads the market with its Referral as a Service software that automates upselling using recommendations. Its quality commitment is clear: triple existing conversion rates.

Tink is one of the ICEX-Invest in Spain’s Rising UP in Spain companies,  which focuses on attracting foreign entrepreneurs who want to establish and grow in Spain. The selected start-ups receive resources to develop their business in Spain.

The Referente talks to Alexander Theis about his participation in Rising UP in Spain, his career and his future.

How did your previous company help you to set up Tink? How did your experience influence that?

It influenced me very directly because the technology was so closely linked to the current one. I could say that my current company is built on the knowledge gained in my previous company, especially because it helped me to understand what large corporations look for. Without the track record of the first company, the current SaaS wouldn’t exist.  

I saw that I had to refocus the market segment and change from an SaaS for HR referral automation to one for sales automation. The transition wasn’t easy, but today I see it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. 

How did you come up with the idea of applying reference software to sectors such as banking?

We started with a partnership with a bank’s innovation lab and we designed and co-created the solution with them, focusing on the real problems of a bank. We understood the issues the financial industry faces and modelled our marketing software together with industry experts. We always thought that working with professionals in the industry would give us much better insights into the real, daily problems of banks. 

The solution to a real problem, which people have on a daily basis, especially when it comes to business software, is much more efficient when it is done as a whole. All big tech companies work with referral programmes to increase sales. Some well-known programmes are those of Dropbox, Amazon, Booking.com, Airbnb, Uber and Cabify. These companies have recurring sales of more than 15% of the total thanks to the automation of recommendations. However, when a bank wishes to develop its own referral marketing programme, it often fails for the same reasons: lack of experience, of automation, of agility, too much time and money spent on development, lack of industry benchmarks to optimise each referral campaign and several other challenges. 

We clearly understood that there was great potential to develop an SaaS to meet the needs of the banking industry and help increase sales by sharing our know-how, best practices, KPIs and industry benchmarks. 

As the banks and markets we operate in and still want to reach are all very different, we always design the marketing tool to be flexible and adaptable to different requirements and realities. This strategy has enabled us to work with large companies in 9 markets.  

Where else do you apply your solution?

We also work with telecommunications companies, mobile operators, solar energy companies, petrol station chains, insurance companies, event companies and several other industries. 

How do you adapt to each of them? How do their needs differ?

Depending on the client and the country, we adapt the commercial strategy we design for our client. The adaptation of TINK depends mainly on each target segment of the campaign. The way of communicating, the incentives, the metrics and the expected return change according to the acquisition cost of each industry and each country. As we have been working in 9 countries for 6 years now, we are very flexible when adapting to the needs of each client and have developed the tool so that it adapts and integrates into the digital ecosystem of each client. We define ourselves as “API first” in order to make this flexibility a reality in cooperation with our corporate customers. 

Which companies do you collaborate with today? What do they say about you?

Some of the companies we work with are BBVA Bank, Scotiabank of Canada, Promerica Bank in Costa Rica, ASISA and 25 other banks in Latin America and Spain. 

Our expertise in referral marketing and the conversion rates we generate for our clients are noteworthy. Our promise is to significantly increase conversion rates in the first three months of operation to have a more efficient sales channel than other digital channels. 

We not only rent our tool in white label format, without being seen as an external supplier, but we also share our acquired knowledge with other clients to evaluate different strategies according to our know-how, best practices and benchmark KPI’s in order to have sales targets for our clients based on industry benchmarks. 

Before launching the first campaign. We ask our client in order to understand their reality and adapt our solution with a strategic focus on launching optimised marketing campaigns from the beginning. We became a kind of agency specialising in referral marketing, basing our knowledge on empirical evidence using our existing track record and experience. We rent software and share knowledge. 

And what are the results? How do they change and improve after using Tink’s services?

Some of our clients increase their conversion rates fivefold. The average is triple. The specific results depend on several factors such as the segment, the market, the communication, the existing cost of acquisition and the attractiveness of the incentive to be offered to ambassadors and referrals. It should be enough of an incentive to want to refer and also to want to become a customer of a new company. 

Why is it important for customers to be loyal? Are brands aware of this?

Companies are increasingly aware of the importance of client loyalty due to the high level of competition in the market, with special emphasis on the financial market. The happier customers are, the more likely they are to recommend the products and services they consume. 

How far can your solution go in Spain?

We already work with some clients in Spain and are doing very well. Just as we have adapted to eight other markets, we are adapting to the Spanish market and we are doing well. 

How far have you got into this market?

We are in the expansion and growth phase. We have an increasing number of clients and we want to consolidate our position as the best tool to increase sales for large corporations in Spain with qualitative, well-structured referral marketing. 

What role has Rising UP in Spain played in this process?

Due to the pandemic, we weren’t able to start working in person with Rising UP Spain, which we will do this year.

We have been working remotely and travelling to Spain a lot because I’m Spanish. 

Where did you start off from in terms of support and funding?

We received a seed round in the form of crowdfunding which we’ve grown with until now, leading the company to sustainability without additional funding. We have had no private investment, we break even and we’re growing steadily.

Where does Tink stand today in this respect?

If some interesting investment were to come in to expand more rapidly globally, we would consider it. We haven’t been very active in raising capital because we have focused on growth and optimising the company’s results in order to self-finance our technical and commercial development. 

And which direction are you going in? What changes or innovations would you like to introduce? What does it mean to be innovative and to practice constant innovation?

We are finalising a completely new version of the tool, with the best current technology. We’re continuously launching new features and we’re creating parts of our corporate software for companies that emerge from our customers’ requirements. We only develop features that are useful, because they solve a real business problem. As a cloud-based SaaS, all our customers benefit from our ongoing improvement.