UPRISEVSI SECURES SIX FIGURE INVESTMENT AND REBRANDS TO FLEX SYSTEMS
Tech company, UpriseVSI, has joined forces with the principal shareholders of its long-standing client, Retail Merchandising Services (RMS) in a deal that will see local entrepreneurs Daniel and Connah O’Toole become the majority shareholders, making an initial investment of £500,000, and the company rebrand to Flex Systems.
Cardiff-based UpriseVSI specialises in online booking and scheduling systems, as well as providing web development services. Originally established in 2012 as Uprise Marketing by Gareth Rees Jones and Geoff Thomas, in 2015, the company acquired VSI-thinking, a back-end web development agency based in Cardiff Bay, which had developed a range of proprietary technology solutions including thinkBooker, an online booking platform.
The thinkBooker system has flourished in the years since the acquisition, winning ‘Best Emerging Technology’ at the 2017 WalesOnline Digital Awards and the ‘Best Ecommerce’ award in 2018. This was for the delivery of a personal shopping appointment system for luxury global retail tech firm, Farfetch, one of many high-profile brands who have adopted the thinkBooker system. Other brands to have used the system include Premiership Rugby, Welsh Rugby Union, Cardiff Airport and NFL Franchise, Jacksonville Jaguars.
In July of this year, as a response to COVID-19, UpriseVSI launched SafeBook, a software as a service (SaaS) booking system that allows small and medium-sized businesses to take bookings, manage capacity and comply with social distancing measures.
As the UK’s leading independent retail merchandising and support services company, RMS works with many major retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, John Lewis Partnership, Asda and B&Q. Under the stewardship of CEO, Daniel O’Toole, the company has collaborated with UpriseVSI since 2016, to design and develop flex™, a workforce scheduling and management system. The system allows RMS to effectively schedule and manage multi-skilled teams of flexible staff to support a wide range of retail change projects for retailers throughout the UK and Ireland. As a consequence of the collaboration, Flex has enabled RMS to significantly improve its operational efficiency and client services, playing a major role helping the company win new contracts; delivering large-scale projects and helping grow annual revenue by over 30%.
An initial investment of £500k will be made into the development of the thinkBooker platform to expand its features and functionality and to allow it to be marketed to a wider audience. In addition, the company will commercialise the flex workforce scheduling and management system so that it can be offered to other companies that need to be able to effectively schedule and manage their flexible or temporary skill set requirements.
UpriseVSI will rebrand to Flex Systems, with the thinkBooker brand being retained for the company’s online booking product. All staff within UpriseVSI will be retained with plans to further expand the team over the coming 12 months. Development Bank of Wales, which has worked with UpriseVSI since 2015, will remain as a supportive long-term lender to Flex Systems.
Gareth Rees Jones and Geoff Thomas, Co-Founders of UpriseVSI will retain a minority shareholding and remain as directors, taking on the roles of Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer respectively. They will work closely with Daniel O’Toole, Chief Executive Officer of RMS, who in 2018 won UK Director of the Year at the Institute of Directors Awards, and who will take on the role of CEO of Flex Systems.
Commenting on the investment, Daniel O’Toole said;
“Innovation is a core value of our business and, in 2016 we started the investment in developing a technology platform that would ensure that RMS remained at the forefront of its industry. With continued investment, flex™ has grown significantly over the last four years and is now an essential part of RMS’s business success.
“With a shift towards more flexible working already being felt globally, COVID-19 has created a surge in demand for more flexibility from both employers and employees alike. It’s had an immediate and potentially lasting change in the future of the employment market. More and more companies need to be able to recruit, schedule and manage their people flexibly; and more workers are demanding a greater level of flexibility, control and work-life balance.
“By joining forces with UpriseVSI, we will be able to exploit this opportunity, not just in the retail sector, where RMS operates, but across many different industries and empower employers and employees with intelligent booking and scheduling technology to thrive more flexibly and profitably than ever before.
Gareth Rees Jones added;
“We’ve had a long and successful relationship with Dan, Connah and the team at RMS, so when we were looking for investment partners to help us take the business forward, they were the natural choice.
“There is strong demand for online booking and scheduling systems and the investment that we will now be able to make in our platform, combined with the combined skills and experience of our teams, will really help us to grow our market share both in the UK and beyond.”
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