Why Wi5 is now Onvi

May 07, 2021 6 min read

Things are looking a bit different around here, right? Not only do we have a brand new name, logo and colour palette, but for the first time, we’re sharing our company mission — making wafer-thin margins a thing of the past. Prask Sutton, our founder & CEO, explains the journey from Wi5 to Onvi, and why now’s the right time to rebrand.

How did Wi5 come about? 

With backgrounds in interaction design and creative technology within the marketing & advertising industry, Jon Clarke, (co-founder & COO) and I witnessed firsthand the onset of consumers’ ‘app fatigue’ and the growing imbalance in perceived effort versus reward when it came to getting people to engage with brands via digital means. We both believed there was a better, more frictionless way to get people engaging via mobile, especially for one-off and impulse-driven interactions. That sowed the seed that grew into Wi5.

We’d both been lucky enough to work with hundreds of great brands prior to Wi5’s inception, so it was relatively easy to draw down on some of the goodwill we’d built up over the years, which meant we got to go-live with the likes of BMW, Samsung and really get our proofs of concept out there to a huge audience much more readily than most.

At the start, we were delivering rich, app-like content via splash pages generated by ad hoc Wi-Fi networks, which meant consumers got app-like experiences without ever having to download an app or even needing to access the internet. Brands including BMW and Jaguar used our solution to create super engaging ways for prospects and existing customers to learn more about their vehicles, book test drives, etc. BMW was particularly great as we got to work with the PGA and Formula E (Jon’s a big fan of golf and motor racing, but he’s only good at driving in one of these areas). This initial success got the attention of a lot of big names and we quickly expanded across other industries with the likes of Capital One, Samsung and Telefónica. We won a place on Telefónica’s tech accelerator, Wayra, back in 2017 and our work with them soon led to us delivering what's now the default Wi-Fi experience at The O2 Arena, the world's busiest music venue.

Prask Sutton CEO and Jon Clarke COO , Onvi

We soon realised that yes, we’d created a great way for people to access content, but that usage levels soared (sometimes to 100% engagement via mobile) in use cases where the expected consumer outcome was consistently singular — when everyone in a given situation behaves in a pretty much identical way. That’s where people really used the tech. Let me explain. If you walk into a car dealership, you might mooch around; maybe you want to buy a car, maybe you do buy a car, but maybe you don’t. People going into a bar or restaurant pretty much without exception buy food and drink. Nobody ever went to McDonald’s to browse, right? So with food and drink, we saw phenomenal levels of engagement.

 People love their food and drink, but they don’t love hanging around, waiting to order!

We knew that was a real problem that hospitality operators deemed worthy of solving, so that was our in. We found the market was ripe to use our frictionless tech for ordering and paying for food and drink in bars, pubs, cafés, hotels and restaurants, and that’s how Wi5 came into being.

Oh! Wi-Fi networks. Wi5. That explains the old name.

Yeah, it’s a naff pun, isn’t it? I don’t think it was ever meant to be permanent, but things took off pretty quickly and before we knew it we had better things to focus on than the name. I suppose the name made sense when we first started, given our strong ties to Wi-Fi technology, but as we’ve evolved our product further and further, it’s felt less and less relevant. Now, as we embark on the next stage of our journey, it’s definitely the right time for us to rebrand; to reframe how we present ourselves and our product to the world. Onvi is definitely more representative of who and what we are now, and the direction we’re going in.

You hinted there at evolving. Does this mean the rebrand is more than a change of name and logo?

Absolutely. We’re a very process- and data-driven organisation, which means there’s always a lot more than meets the eye with us. We’re not just a pretty UI.

We’re at a point now where we’ve built the rich features and functionality hospitality operators want and need to be able to push 100% of their orders through mobile; through Onvi.

Now we can kick things up a notch and reveal what we’ve been working on behind the scenes: the evolution from mobile Order & Pay to a powerful sales platform that drives revenues and profitability, to make hospitality’s wafer-thin margins a thing of the past.

Who can use Onvi?

We’re continuing to evolve, dedicated to providing all operators — enterprise to SME — with the features desired and needed to start, run and grow their businesses. So absolutely everyone in the hospitality industry — whether a QSR with tens of thousands of locations or a lone food truck — will find a configuration of Onvi that’s optimal for them. That’s something we’re really proud of. A high-functioning, enterprise-grade platform like ours, where you can take payments, develop marketing materials, collect customer feedback and create vouchers — all behind beautiful interfaces — was once beyond the reach of SMEs and smaller independents. Not just due to costs, but because of the time required to install, integrate, learn and operate it. That’s something tech partners forget. Usability is absolutely key and a big component of that, especially for SME operators, is how much time’s required to get a piece of software really excelling for their business. So yeah, Onvi's a great equaliser. We’ve leveled the playing field. Your local connoisseur coffee house and boutique burger joint can run their businesses with the same level of data-driven decision making as Starbucks and McDonald’s.

The new Onvi branding talks a lot of increasing profits for operators, is this your focus?

It’s more than a focus: it’s a mission to realise our vision that the future of hospitality is greater profitability.

Rising staff costs, increased business rates and rents, labour shortages and high-commission models from delivery aggregators all make the current business landscape a hostile environment for operators at a time when reducing costs and increasing sales is more crucial than ever. By focussing on providing operators with software that helps drive efficiencies, refocuses staff time and gives the ability to serve a greater number of customers in more ways, we can realise our mission to make wafer-thin margins a thing of the past.

Finally, what does Onvi mean?

My spirit guide whispered it to me, but apparently it also comes from the Cajun word envie, and means desire, want or inclination, often in reference to food, but can also indicate something someone wants to do. Serving the hospitality industry and with single-minded focus to improve things for operators, this seems more than fitting. Do you want to hear more about my spirit guide?