Long gone are the days where you would phone up a business to book an appointment with someone; nowadays it’s much simpler and easier to book time straight into people’s calendars using online systems. One company enabling businesses to do this is Bristol-based BookingLive, and it has done it so well that it’s raised £500,000 pounds from venture capital firm The Summit Group, and non-profit investors Creative England to show off what they can do to others.
“We want to design a freemium version that will be exactly right for SMEs and smaller groups”
Having already won over clients like the BBC, the NHS and BMW, BookingLive’s founder and CEO Vinnie Morgan is now looking to develop a freemium version of his product that would be accessible to any organisation of any size: from SMEs to local voluntary organisations. BookingLive has already committed to charging lower commission prices than other services currently on the market.
- You may like: Company Profile: BookingLive, the flexible Bristol-based online booking system providers
To find out more we caught up with Vinnie to talk fundraising, freemium products and how people can get involved with BookingLive:
TechSPARK: How did the funding come about?
Vinnie Morgan: It was a lengthy process. Before we started speaking to anyone we invested a lot of time getting the company investor-ready and compiling the data that investors would want to see. I then started attending networking events to meet potential investors regularly, and we also investigated all the different types of funding available, including crowdfunding.
We really liked the private equity firm The Summit Group, and were delighted to have their investment. We also decided to compete for funding from Creative England, which we were very pleased this was successful. The entire process took 12-18 months.
TS: What form will the fremium product you are hoping to develop take?
VM: We want using our new product to be effortless, so we are making sure the design is slick and very simple to operate. The design will be mobile-first – that is very important to us. And it will be possible for users to start taking bookings and payments within minutes of setting up an account. Because payment comes from the end-user we are making sure our design is optimised for growing the businesses of our clients as quickly as possible.
For several years we have collected enormous amounts of data on how organisers and customers use booking software. This is allowing us to design a freemium version that will be exactly right for SMEs and smaller groups. The freemium product will not be exactly the same as the enterprise product, but it will not simply be a stripped down version either. It will be a tailored fit with a huge focus on an intuitive mobile-first and an easy-to-use administration system.
TS: What differentiates BookingLive from other online transaction providers?
VM: Our freemium product will be the first full-service booking system in the UK to be zero cost for the client to use and not restricted by user licences, features or transactions.
TS: Apart from using your tech, is there any other way South West techies can get involved with BookingLive?
VM: We’re hiring, and we are especially interested in talking to any front-end developers, project managers, or onboarding specialists who would be interested in joining our team.
“It would be fantastic if an ecosystem of supporting products will grow around BookingLive“
We will be making the BookingLive API open to the public when the freemium product goes live. It would be fantastic if an ecosystem of supporting products will grow around BookingLive, allowing a marketplace to form with new and exciting applications being built on our platform.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Vinnie. You can catch Vinnie being interviewed by Steve Yabsley on BBC Bristol tomorrow from 12:30 about why he moved BookingLive to Bristol after asking one of his team to rank the best tech hubs in the UK on a spreadsheet! You can also keep up to date with the company at the BookingLive website or by following them on Twitter here: @bookinglive