Growing from $1 million to $100 million in annual recurring revenue in under 21 months, UiPath might be the fastest-growing enterprise software company of all time. What’s our secret? Our growth corresponds to the growth of our developer community and our commitment to an educated and engaged community of UiPath experts.
Our market strategy is focused on learning, forum support, community building, and the UiPath Go! platform dedicated to crowdsourcing innovation. We helped pioneer a new industry, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and in the process have created immense momentum to better our product and how it serves users.
RPA is software that uses artificial intelligence to work with other software programs and handle rote and often repetitive tasks like invoicing and customer service support.
With their new skills and educational resources, students certified in UiPath and community developers have built numerous automation projects, saving countless hours as the result of their investment in learning. They have become the engine of our growth as they advocate for their projects.
The strategy reflects the “do-it-yourself” attitude of our founders, who had to be open to informal processes, act and learn humbly, and be authentic as they pioneered this emerging technology. Having spent twelve years at Microsoft in Seattle, Daniel Dines returned to Romania to start UiPath. The global community that formed around RPA helped to accelerate the progress of our technology. Honestly, they were open in their feedback to the point of rebellion and didn’t recognize any authority other than reason and common sense.
Because of this, they thrived. And now this attitude is fueling our growth through programs aimed at fostering community and education.
A typical RPA application is invoice processing, and uses “software robots.” The software can open mail, download PDFs, copy vendor and cost information, and open an accounting system and create payments from that data, freeing accountants from those rote tasks. Forrester Research recently revised its growth forecast for the RPA market upward, predicting it will reach $3.3 billion by 2021.
We first brought our product to market in 2015. In 2016, we opened our software up with a 60-day free trial. This helped more people discover RPA and satisfied the curiosity of the market.
The move went against the sensibilities of many in our space who prefer long sales cycles before users can test out the software. But when it came to educating a growing market on how to create smaller automations, we simply reflected what we knew best and what brought us here: access to technologies and relevant information is best as open source, free of charge, and of great quality. So, we applied the same principle to RPA.
A year later we pushed ourselves further, adding a Community Edition, which developers, schools, and small businesses can use for free. This move was in line with our core developers’ belief that technology should be made open and free of charge to the people who need it most.
The Community Edition grew to more than 250,000 users in the first year, and we realized we weren’t big enough to offer the full level of support we aspired to provide.
So we took a page from the large-scale communities of engaged users that software development companies like Oracle and Stack Overflow had developed, to answer user questions and troubleshoot issues. We crowdsourced support.
With the goal of creating a resource-rich community of users that could support and teach each other, we have taken the next step with the establishment of the UiPath Academy.
The Academy is the world’s first open online training platform for RPA users. It creates a central hub where anyone interested can learn to master the UiPath fundamentals to gain the hands-on experience needed to transform their career.
And it’s working: Since launching in 2017, the Academy has served more than 200,000 students in 139 countries, many of whom have found careers with UiPath and our partners.
As we have grown beyond our roots in Romania to become a global tech unicorn, we felt that our success came with great responsibility. It’s not enough for us simply to prosper as a company. Automation will continually impact the world in dramatic ways. The World Economic Forum estimates that while automation may spur the creation of 133 million new jobs globally, 75 million may cease to exist at the same time.
We must prepare students and seasoned professionals alike for this reality.
So this year we launched the Academic Alliance, which we will use to teach automation skills to more than 1 million students in the coming years. The Alliance includes the following elements:
- Higher Education Program, which builds automation classes at universities
- Automation Educators Program, a community of RPA teachers
- Automation Skills Program, which helps reskill professionals impacted by automation
- Reflection Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, which partners with the tech inclusion movement to spread automation skills to all of society, including minority and migrant groups.
- Youth in Automation Program, a unique way for elementary and middle school students to become engaged in software robotics
While the future of automation is evolving, we know one thing for sure: We’re never going to make people pay for educational resources. We grew because our community became our greatest advocates.
Going forward, we will continue to advocate automation opportunities at all levels, where off-loading some work to software can allow your humanity to thrive. Please reach out to join us.
Ana Cinca is UiPath’s VP of enabling technologies.