New era for online booking and scheduling systems firm

Cardiff-based tech company UpriseVSI has joined forces with the principal shareholders of long-standing client Retail Merchandising Services (RMS).

The deal involves entrepreneurs Daniel and Connah O’Toole becoming majority shareholders, making an initial investment of £500,000, and the company rebranding to Flex Systems. 

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.

Brands to have used the thinkBooker system include Farfetch, 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 booking system that allows small and medium-sized businesses to take bookings, manage capacity and comply with social distancing measures.

Retail merchandising and support services company RMS works with many retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, John Lewis Partnership, Asda and B&Q. 

Under the stewardship of chief executive 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 schedule and manage multi-skilled teams of flexible staff to support a range of retail change projects for retailers throughout the UK and Ireland. 

An initial investment of £500,000 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.

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 with Daniel O’Toole, chief executive of RMS, who will take on the role of CEO of Flex Systems.

O’Toole said: “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.”