Five lessons for the upcoming wave of digital automation
Note: In December 2020, Jacques Bughin sat down with Vargha Moyaed, Chief Strategy Officer for UiPath, to discuss his lessons learned based on the company’s growth. This article appeared in its original form on LinkedIn.
A few years back, looking at the evolution of what was called “enterprise 2.0”, research largely concluded that the potential was immense, provided “enterprise 2.0” could be integrated into the various, relevant business workflows.
Today, companies like UiPath, the worldwide leader in RPA software, are creating the exact digital connections in the IT stack to make this revolution happen. UiPath has grown from virtually a “few men” show in Bucharest to become (probably) the fastest growing B2B SaaS player, with thousands of business clients globally – displacing, in the process, early leaders like BluePrism, and passing the bar of being a decacorn.
As part of Fortino’s Morning Insights programme, we had the privilege of chatting with Vargha Moyaed, UiPath’s Chief Strategy Officer, on the experience he’s collected along his journey (at UiPath), but also from his own vast experience in the start-up and business worlds (prior to UiPath, Vargha was a successful consultant at McKinsey in Northern America, and co-founded a high-tech incubator with Goldman Sachs as lead investors).
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Here are five (among many others) insights we took away from the discussion:
"Community beats products” – Without a powerful product, there is of course, no market. But consider the importance of ecosystems and community as an important lever to building momentum and, in passing, to jump over competition. UiPath built a very large and active community early on, based on a free version of its software suite. This helped build awareness and a channel of influence for its brand. Furthermore, by harnessing the community information, such as user location, UiPath could easily use its geographical heat map to know where to quickly scale internationally.
“The world is flat” – There is a mainstream belief that software innovation is Silicon Valley-based. With the development of the cloud, and digitisation, the paths to innovation are (have been) changing. Innovation may come from everywhere, and scale globally. There is, today, a large set of digital software companies that come from many smaller, European countries – Elastic in Holland, UiPath in Romania, Talkdesk in Portugal, Collibra in Belgium to name a few – who have shown the way to international success. A blowback strategy can be as powerful as the traditional US then UK then Europe strategy deployed by the Silicon Valley darlings. Smaller countries also come with their own advantages, as their smaller size makes internationalisation inevitably more.
Editor’s note: to illustrate this point, read about our decision to invest in Salonkee, a Luxemburg-based tech company for the beauty and wellness industry. Salonkee expanded to more than 1200 in 3 countries in just 2 years.
“Grow fast or die slow” – The digital revolution, connecting a worldwide marketplace, requires a focus on growth. If a product/service has enough sales channel proof points, a low market-entry rate will be the biggest obstacle to growth.
UiPath is a textbook example of what Reid Hoffman calls a “blitz scaling strategy”, wherein UiPath roughly condensed the start-up and scale-up phases into one, and went simultaneously to tens of locations worldwide. While the process may be chaotic, we bet that the insights gathered by UiPath from its community practices, on where the latent demand for its product was located, and that users/ambassadors were there to create the anchor to markets, helped build a stable sales pipeline. That deal flow was the saddle point from which everything else could operate, even under a chaotic process.
“Shape a belief” – Companies need speed, agility, but also purpose and beliefs. Most start-up winners have a vision of disruption that may lead to a significant opening of the market. Amazon had a vision of an immense online marketplace that would disrupt retail, Snowflake has a vision of convergence between data lake and storage to ensure real-time AI-based services. Uipath has one that the IT architecture will need to pivot from functional to end-to-end workflow. A disruption vision helps guide the strategy and align the organisation to grow.
“No one size fits all” – Finally, the conversation was also a reminder that there is no single formula to winning. Like in a cookbook, you need some key ingredients (a large TAM, a great team, a great product with a sustainable Net Promoter Score, a globalisation strategy, a disruptive strategy, etc.), but those ingredients are the hygiene, only. Each success story has its own way blending those key factors. It is hard and subtle work to make it stick, but when you have it, it is all about fun and success.
Entrepreneurship is an exhilarating journey, and this is how we felt after this discussion with Vargha.
If you’re a Europe-based B2B SaaS company looking for advice and potential investment, we can help. Get in touch, and let’s get the conversation started.