Despite a choppy IPO market for growth tech companies, UiPath was able to pull off a successful offering. The company raised $1.3 billion and the shares have since logged a gain 29%. The market capitalization is roughly $37 billion.
“UiPath led the way in spearheading the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) industry with their public offering,” said Muddu Sudhakar, who is the CEO and founder of Aisera. “Everyone is a winner as a result: vendors, the industry and users.”
Yet UiPath’s journey to its IPO was a slog. The founder and CEO, Daniel Dines, spent about ten years bootstrapping his fledgling organization. The company even came close to failing.
But in 2015, Dines made some big bets with his company’s technology. They included computer vision, API automation and low-code/no-code workflow capabilities.
The result was that growth exploded. Within a year, the customer based went from ten to over 100.
“There was good fortune in having the most modern automation/RPA platform at the right moment of the market when it was really taking off,” said Rich Wong, who is a venture capitalist at Accel. He and his team led a $30 million Series A investment in UiPath in early 2017. Wong is also on the board of directors.
As of today, UiPath has over 7,900 customers and the ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue) is at $580 million, up 65% on a year-over-year basis. More than 1,000 customers have ARR of over $100,000.
So then what are the key success factors for this growth? Well, let’s take a look:
Technology: A common misconception with UiPath is that it is a cloud company. But the reality is that the technology is Windows software.
This may seem unconventional—almost a retro approach. But Dines was smart to focus on customer needs first, not what technology to use. Since Windows software is so prevalent in corporate and government environments, UiPath’s system was faster, smoother and more integrated.
Community: UiPath created a free edition, which accelerated the adoption. Consider that there are over 250,000 downloads per year.
The company also developed an online forum and an academy to help with the support and training.
“This combination was unique at that time and people flocked to UiPath,” said Nandan Mullakara, who is the founder of Bot Nirvana. “This created a unique flywheel that is still going strong today and the results are for everyone to see.”
Scale: Automation needs to be pervasive through an organization to get true ROI (Return On Investment). For example, in the case of Autodesk, the company has leveraged UiPath to automate more than 100 processes.
“UiPath looks at our needs holistically,” said Prakash Kota, who is the Chief Information Officer at Autodesk. “Automation isn’t simply about providing a point solution, rather it’s about looking at the entire lifecycle of business processes. UiPath understood that early on. We are also part of UiPath’s Product Advisory Council, and some of what we requested in the testing space is now built into the product.”
Go Big Early: UiPath was originally based in Romania. Because the market was small, the company had little choice but to expand internationally. But this turned into a major benefit.
“I think there is incredible credit to Daniel and the early team for the aggressiveness to press a bet, and pursue customers and the market on a global basis rather than taking it only a country at a time,” said Wong.
Tom (@ttaulli) is an advisor/board member to startups and the author of Artificial Intelligence Basics: A Non-Technical Introduction, The Robotic Process Automation Handbook: A Guide to Implementing RPA Systems and Implementing AI Systems: Transform Your Business in 6 Steps. He also has developed various online courses, such as for the COBOL and Python programming languages.