Head of Content at Work-Bench
A discussion with Daniel Dines: from humble origins to explosive growth
London Enterprise Tech Meetup got together with their New York counterpart for a collaborative ‘Summer Speaker Series’ this month. The story of the moment was that of Daniel Dines, UiPath Founder and CEO, and the conversation was skillfully moderated by Diane Brady, Assistant Managing Editor, Communities and Leadership at Forbes.
UiPath was one of the largest software IPOs in US history when it went public in April 2021. UiPath now serves over 60% of the Fortune 500 and has a market valuation of over $30 billion as the industry leader in robotic process automation (RPA).
However, it was from humble beginnings that UiPath’s massive success came. The company was founded in 2005, in Daniel’s homeland – Romania. It was only after 10 years of financial difficulties that they finally got Seed investment, and were able to move to the current HQ in NYC.
You can watch the full recording of the event here: https://youtu.be/5Cnso-il9Xk But for now here are the key insights relayed by Daniel, from his time creating and scaling the firm into what it is today:
Closing Deals on a Large Scale
The time that UiPath started talking to enterprise customers was, in Daniel’s words, “the biggest transformation of [his] life.” It was then that the company received vital user input that would lead to a major product pivot.
Many businesses profess themselves customer-centric, but few live up to these ideas. Simply, instead of pushing through a predetermined feature roadmap, companies should halt and pivot if customers raise red lights about their product.
Daniel said: “Companies are not evaluated by the number of features they have in the product. They are evaluated by the number of happy customers, revenue, and the stickiness of that revenue. It’s a no brainer, but people don’t do it. Make your customers happy, start your development, and fix the problems. Forget about the other things…they’re not as important.”
What impact does this have on UiPath’s GTM strategy? UiPath has always centred its sales efforts on ‘landing and expanding’ impressive enterprise deals. Because UiPath’s solution has a very quick, proven time-to-value, along with the fact that their implementation is 4–5x as profitable as the software subscription alone, this is a formula for success.
According to the CEO, they have been growing at a rate of more than 140 percent for several quarters. This clearly demonstrates that incorporating client feedback paid-off well, and that their technology is acceptable for enterprise-wide large-case automation deployments.
Growing as a Leader and Scaling Company Culture
As a company grows in size, the position of the co-founder changes significantly. It is critical for leadership to realise that they must mature alongside the organisation. This requires the delegation of more day-to-day activities, allowing them to focus on the “bigger picture”. If done well, they’ll hire people who are even more qualified than themselves in their specialised role, and will have trust in them to get the task done.
Many businesses make the error of believing that in order to expand culture, a large set of company values is required. However, Daniel argues that this technique lacks the ability to bring people together.
Instead, he says: “Define culture by one single value. For us, it was humility.”
UiPath discovered that focusing on one ‘north star’ was their most significant cultural innovation. They asked themselves, “What is the number 1 thing that allows 10 engineers from a small country to make these large enterprises happy?” Their answer was ‘humility’. From this ‘north star’ developed their core principles, “humble, bold, and fast.”
Daniel’s globe-trotting ways have influenced his management style since the beginning: he runs UiPath as a global enterprise. Daniel knew that in order to quickly scale globally, the company must first operate on a global scale. This not only helps with logistics, but it also lends a lot of diversity to the organisation. Companies that hire from just one geographic area, or one institution, according to Daniel, are severely limiting their potential.
This way of working hugely benefited UiPath when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out. The company had already been employing people from all over the world and had established itself as a hybrid, remote-friendly firm. As work-from-home orders became mandatory around the world, UiPath already had the infrastructure in place to continue working from home efficiently and successfully.
Take a wholly distinct position inside an industry (for example, category creation) and dominate it. This was the goal for UiPath: to allow and empower people with an end-to-end automation solution in order to reduce the volume of manual tasks on their plate. Daniel and his team noticed other startups in the field struggle to meet clients’ comprehensive, end-to-end needs and saw this as their chance to pounce.
Daniel feels that creating a high-quality and distinctive product demands total dedication. In other words, while huge organisations may have the capacity to develop a tool in-house, they often lack the focus to develop a best-of-breed solution. “Competitors” for UiPath include Microsoft, ServiceNow, IMB, SAP, and others who are steadily entering the automation arena themselves; still UiPath managed to overcome these behemoths.
These are promising words for new startups on the horizon – who will be the next on the journey to hyper growth?