How Growth Teams Are Built & Managed At UiPath, One Of The Biggest Artificial Intelligence Startups
How Growth Teams Are Built & Managed At UiPath, One Of The Biggest Artificial Intelligence Startups
Going from $1M to $100M annual revenue in less than 21 months, UiPath is not only a record-setting Artificial Intelligence (AI) company in Romania, it’s also one of the most prolific software startups.
Using a combination of AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to manage both low-level and more complex business tasks, UiPath is valued at 7 billion dollars as of April 2019.
But how did they do it?
Growth Hacking Is The Future Of Marketing
Have you ever looked at your stats and wondered why your business isn’t growing as fast as it once did? Then you need to learn about growth marketing.
It’s a new way of doing marketing that doesn’t only focus on brand awareness and acquisition, but also on customer retention. It involves optimizing every aspect of the customer experience in order to attract, engage and retain the right clients.
It’s different from traditional marketing because it integrates all parts of the sales funnel and it’s based on iterative learning. It builds sustainable momentum and works with data, not guesswork, that tells you exactly what, when and how to implement changes.
The main goal of growth marketing is to increase profits by focusing on customer retention strategies. And that’s exactly what UiPath managed to do, estimated to achieve revenue growth of 5,600% compared to 2016.
I wanted to go directly to the source and learn the details behind their success. So I talked with UiPath’s Global Head of Growth Marketing, Vlad Ionescu.
Here’s what I learned:
What is your definition of Growth teams?
After a startup gets the product-market fit right, it’s time to scale. You want to make sure your target users get the value proposition of your product. After that, it’s all about onboarding more clients.
This is where Growth teams come into play. And my “definition” would be a team focused to grow the awareness and the usage. For us, at UiPath, it was about consistently growing sixfold for three years in a row – in traffic to the website, users trialing the software, inbound messages for sales, and the value of closed deals. Compounded, that’s about 216 times or more from where we were in 2016.
For SaaS companies, you have a lot of leverage within the web-platform. Finding ways to generate more interest, coming up with good pricing plans like freemium models, experimenting with product changes can all bring in more users and potentially convert a higher percentage of them.
In the beginning, we didn’t have these options because we didn’t have a cloud component. So it was all about SEO, content, and social media. We embraced the inbound marketing framework and tried to be as open as possible.
How is your team structured and why did you choose to structure it this way?
We were lucky that all initial members of the team had a growth mindset right from the beginning. From sales to our legal and finance departments. We’ve always been obsessed with two things: customer satisfaction and growth.
We were the first in the market to launch a fully free forever community edition for customers under 5 million dollars in revenue. We created a new profession: the RPA developer. And to sustain this we’ve built and managed an entire community at our RPA Academy.
It was a huge effort and people from all departments were involved. We had to cannibalize part of our revenue. Looking back, it was a big bet at the time, but definitely, the right thing to do.
The key-element regarding our structure: even if you’re not part of the actual Growth Team, you’re still contributing to the growth. It’s a more organic growth coming from all parts of the company: Technical Writing, Content and Product Marketing, Enabling Technologies. All of these departments aren’t driven by my team of marketing, yet they still contribute.
When it comes to our Growth Team per se, it’s a small team. They touch on different projects in areas like advocacy and user references, competitive insights, and influencer marketing.
What is your team’s main goal?
The main goal is to grow, month-over-month, every metric for each project. In the beginning, it was all about website traffic, conversion, and SEO. We were really obsessed with SERPs. Later it became more about social media and stats – we have creative teams for video and content marketing that built a following of over 18,000 people on YouTube and 60,000 on Twitter.
Nowadays we have advocacy strategies – user reviews on 6 different external platforms. We leverage marketing automation a lot with smart email workflows and nurture streams to foster growth in focus areas. For example, we’ve initiated the first and only open RPA Slack Community – so you can get in touch with other UiPath users or employees.
With the new move towards a Cloud-based platform, we need to re-think our Growth Hacking team structure. I think folks from other, non-marketing departments should be involved in creating an “in-between” team that experiments with different product changes and measures their impact on user acquisition and retention.
How should a minimum viable growth team look like in terms of people and their responsibilities?
It all depends on the goal. A startup’s true north should always be growth. But within the larger scheme of things, you can always focus on different sub-goals. Lead generation, CRO through testing, ABM (account-based marketing), personalization, PR and social media.
Exactly which of these fall under the “growth marketing” umbrella? I think it depends on the company.
In my opinion, a minimum viable growth team for SaaS businesses should contain a marketer, a product manager, a web designer, and a web developer. They should build hypotheses and test them to see what works best to increase revenue.
For other businesses, it could be about the go-to-market strategy. Piggybacking on other communities is one of the most common hacks.
How do growth teams change depending on the phase of the business: from startup to mature?
Within a startup, you have limited time so you have to move fast and bold. The growth team should only test highly impactful hypotheses. The goal is to create a virtuous growth-machine of repetitive business. You build the airplane while you fly it.
When companies mature, the focus shifts on less powerful metrics. If you grow at the right speed, it’s never boring because new challenges and projects arise all the time. There are new platforms and tools to use. Staying updated in this landscape is challenging enough on its own.
The latest trends in mature companies like Walmart or LinkedIn involve having large teams of growth hackers that focus on improving very different areas of the business.
How do you retain and engage team members?
I won’t shy away from saying that for the largest part of the 2,500 people at UiPath, this is the professional ride of their life. Working on such a hot market that practically exploded overnight, we’re all learning by leaps and bounds.
There’s a fiber that runs deep in our culture, and that is collaboration. This stems from our co-founders’ commitment to staying humble. We’re willing to ask for help, admit where there’s room for improvement, and always celebrate our successes. And then there’s the flexibility and autonomy we have, the global exposure we get.
It’s a unique environment that clearly keeps us engaged and giving our best. I would dare say we have one of the smallest employees turnover rates in the industry.
Job hopping – how can you fight it?
UiPath culture is unique. We’ve heard people saying we seemed to be part of a cult. That’s simply because the original team of highly dedicated people managed to attract, inspire and amaze talents from all over the world.
We work passionately, and we are rewarded accordingly. We have benefit policies in place and open channels with management: our CEO talks to all of us every month about his vision for the future. UiPath is basically a tough package to match.
Where does the growth team fit in the company structure?
It’s a small growth team within the marketing department reporting directly to the CMO. We need to think seriously about an inter-departmental team to continue fueling growth in the next 3-4 years.
Growth, product, marketing. How do they overlap, how do they differ?
Products can get customer feedback via sales and CSM. Marketing has many functions but is not traditionally as involved with the product. I’d say growth is where the two meet.
The new marketing paradigm should be about the product, especially in young startups. The boundaries between growth, product, and marketing are almost non-existent when it comes to SaaS, online and cloud-based businesses. But you can have a growth function in traditional businesses as well.
Is there a workflow you use, a certain methodology? Agile, Scrum?
Not really, we follow the projects we’re driving on a constant basis. We mostly anticipate and innovate. Also, we react very quickly to what’s happening in the market. With some projects, we have weekly sprints.
What is your opinion: one metric at a time versus more metrics? Why?
Both One “North Star” metric is important to keep all teams focused.
Sub-metrics are important as well because that’s what you can influence. Say Monthly Usage is your key-metric, which comes as a result of the whole company pulling in the same direction. It’s not something you could influence directly.
So having more metrics you can influence and work towards is crucial.
Growth teams are fundamental to scaling up the go-to-market and spotting innovation opportunities.
When it comes to UiPath, growth marketing played a critical role in revenue growth and customer retention. Allowing them to experiment across multiple departments, the company is now backed by Google and their ARR will have increased by 33% in just the last three months.
This is yet another testament to the power of growth marketing.
If you’d like to see other powerful case studies, check my company’s blog MAN digital.
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Source: Startus Magazine
Author: Romeo Man