upriseVSI (Pontypridd)

Origins

Founded in 2012 by Gareth Rees Jones and Geoff Thomas, the motivation behind starting the business was to establish a technology focused marketing agency in Wales that could compete with the best companies in the UK.

Our main challenges when starting the business

The greatest challenge faced by the business in its first three years from start-up has been managing cash flow and getting funds to support working capital as the founders have rapidly grown the business. Like most start-ups, it began without a portfolio of projects, which made it difficult to get its foot in the door with bigger brands. It therefore took time for the founders to build awareness of the brand and to develop a strong reputation for the work that they produce. Attracting the right staff was also a challenge at the outset as it had a limited budget, were located outside Cardiff and did not have the profile of other more established agencies.

Success Factor

At the very beginning, the experience and contacts of the co-founders meant that they were able to quickly develop a good client base. Having two founders with very different but complementary skills in finance and marketing has meant that they have been able to effectively manage the finances of the business as it has grown and also increased its profile. As soon as they were in a position to do so, they invested in hiring talented and experienced people into senior positions. This in turn, further improved the quality of the work that was produced and brought the firm to the attention of major brands in Wales such as the Welsh Rugby Union, Hugh James and DS Smith. Acquisition of the web development and technology company, VSI-thinking, in October 2015 created upriseVSI which has been transformational and has taken the business to the next level. It now means that there is a client list which includes national and international brands, a highly talented and experienced back-end development team and a suite of technology that allows the business to tender for much bigger and more complex development projects. It has also provided a platform to deliver a cutting-edge booking solution in thinkBooker that continues to expand into different sectors both locally, nationally, and internationally.

The Future

upriseVSI has ambitious yet entirely realistic plans for sustained growth over the next five years by maintaining a strong focus on profitable sales. This will be driven by a sales and marketing strategy focused on growing the client base for the thinkBooker product as well as its core services of web design, development and digital integration, especially in specialist verticals such as travel, leisure, and sport, where it has vast experience. In addition, it will be continuing to invest in its own suite of technology products, with a particular emphasis on the thinkBooker online booking and scheduling system which presents a chance to further grow the business outside of Wales and in a wide range of sectors such as sport, education, hospitality, resource and asset management, and retail. It is already receiving enquiries from across Europe and as far afield as Australia as there is a growing demand for online booking and resource management. The business is committed to creating a team comprised of best-in-class employees, with staff training and talent acquisition remaining a priority to ensure that it remains at the forefront of the industry and continues to provide outstanding marketing and business technology solutions for clients.