When two guys with a strong background in mathematics, computer science and automation get together, they’re bound to create a product that will shape the future. The future of work, in the case of UiPath, where next generation robots powered by computer vision and AI will be as common as PCs in the workplace.
“When you design the technology, you are the future”, seems to be the motto of Daniel Dines (CEO) and Marius Tirca (CTO), the two co-founders of UiPath, a startup that specializes in building robotic process automation solutions.
The roots of UiPath date back to 2005, in what was back then an outsourcing company. At that time, the team was also working on automation libraries for developers from all around the world. With just the right amount of luck, as they believe, and a strong demand from the market, that saw the need for RPA (Robotic Process Automation), and hence decided to start building an industry standard platform for training and orchestrating software robots back in 2012.
“While we were developing a great tool for UI Automation, one of the largest BPOs in India approached us with the proposition to build a complete solution for back-office automation, including the command control with robot management and monitoring. Since then the product evolved with feedback and input from other clients”, explain the co-founders of UiPath.
The current name came as part of a rebranding process that took place this year, which also translated in moving the firm in the US and closing an initial seed round over the summer. Nowadays, their source code being is used on millions of machines around the world, embedded in different products and companies with activities ranging from document management to call center, healthcare, financial, data extraction and migration, process automation, or API enablement.
“We are proud to be a startup and have the freedom to build on our vision and do things our way. Our work has direct impact on the product, and has the potential to change the world”, continue the two.
According to them, their customers are BPOs, SSC (shared service centers) and other large enterprises looking to implement automation programs that make their employees’ lives easier, and their businesses more efficient. Two of their main clients today are Capgemini and Cognizant and, despite the fact that they did not focus on bringing on board Romanian customers, UiPath is now exploring potential collaborations with the Romanian office of Ernst & Young, as well as with the American, English and Danish offices of the consulting company.
You may be wondering at this point what exactly is robotic software doing. Oh well, RPA aims to use a computer (a.k.a. robot) to manipulate existing application software (CRMs, ERPs, help desk and claim applications) in the same way that a person works with those systems and the presentation layer to perform a specific task.
The use of the word “robotic” to describe this rapidly growing field is somewhat misleading. These are not the robots of science fiction with artificial intelligence. Currently, the term “robotic process automation” is used to refer to the use of sophisticated computer software that automates rule-based processes without the need for constant human supervision.
“Our software is <process agnostic> and applies to any technology (Native, Web, Citrix etc.). Basically, you can automate any rule-based processes that are currently executed by employees on their computer screens”, explain the two.
And the activities that UiPath robots can easily automate range from reading any kind of structured data, to sorting worksheet data and deleting duplicate rows, Copy/Paste data between applications, migrating content from one application screen to another, comparing Excel columns and even sending an email.
“For these large companies, BPOs and shared services which all use large scale, high-volume human labor, RPA technology adds strong impetus in terms of business innovation, and it is the real kind of innovation, with great benefits such as process accuracy, improved performance and advanced scalability”, ads Daniel.
Although the technology deployed by UiPath is also made available by companies like Blue Prism or Automation Anywhere, the Romanian startup has a series of key competitive advantages that make it stand out of the crowd. First and foremost, the design is deeply visual and intuitive.
“This is essential to the user, who needs to interact easily and be productive with the tool”, comments Daniel.
Another important advantage is the fact that UiPath offers unmatched solutions for Citrix and that the software is created on a highly modern, up to date architecture that uses the Microsoft technology stack, thus meeting high expectations for compliance with global IT environments and security standards.
It’s those advantages, as well as their team and expertise, that opened their door to Seedcamp Week, which proved to be a great learning experience. Seedcamp Week brought them together with great mentors who offered valuable advice on how to grow a business and how to maintain a team culture.
“We had the opportunity to be introduced to a lot of investors from UK and US to pitch our ideas. We also greatly enjoy the benefits of all the startup programs associated with Seedcamp, such as BizSpark Plus”, the entrepreneurs say.
Concerning their financing, UiPath closed a seed round with the participation of Seedcamp, Earlybird and CredoVentures. What’s unusual here is that they did not go through the standard selection process for getting a Seedcamp investment: it just happened for the investors to hear their pitch to other VCs and simply decided to get on board and join the seed round.
In the year to come, UiPath plans to raise series A funding to help them focus on integrating higher order machine learning capabilities for the robots (such as the power to handle unstructured content and extract meaning from it).
“We are developing the Learning Robot, a next level robot that records a human agent’s interaction with the computer discreetly and invisibly from the background and then autonomously implements a work-flow that emulates the human agent’s actions. Robots gain a higher degree of autonomy so that they can provide increasingly complex output”, reveal Daniel and Marius.
Another disrupting feature that the duo is working on is the “Automated business decision”, similar in algorithm with the Learning Robot, which gives the robot extra capability to discern processing exceptions that require cognitive decision. In this way, the robot will be equipped to understand and proceed with decisions that are not necessarily tied to the input rule.
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UiPath is definitely one of the startups with the potential to shape the future of work and disrupt an entire industry.
We’ll be definitely keeping an eye on them in the year to come and we’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, Marius Tirca, their Co-Founder & CTO, kindly accepted our invitation to join the “Early stage deals. Startup Success Stories” panel we put together at How to Web Conference 2015. Stay tuned: the video will soon be available on our YouTube Channel.