Here’s my high-level framework for understanding the environment we’re operating within:
MARKET OPPORTUNITY There are 60 million knowledge workers in the US alone, and a similar amount in Europe and other developed economies. They make an average of $67K a year and spend an average of 41% of their time doing work that can be delegated to non-college educated workers: repetitive digital work that can be broken down into instructions and turned into a process.
That’s $28K per person per year of repetitive digital work, which could be done by Invisible for $8K per person per year — a $480B annual market opportunity — saving companies $20K per person per year, or $1.2T in annual savings.
Before using Invisible, knowledge workers have only two options: outsource (use labor) or automate.
INVISIBLE: SERVICE POSITIONING Knowledge workers can delegate any repetitive digital work to their Invisible Assistant over email or on a video call with their dedicated account manager.
They can screen-share and show us the work they hate doing, then we’ll ask relevant questions, write down the instructions and build a custom process for them, if we’ve never seen it before. But at this point, we’ve got hundreds of processes in our Process Library, and are sequencing the enterprise process genome: especially for sales managers, hiring managers and operations managers, for whom we’re mapping variations in requirements, context, criteria and decision trees. Over time, as we upgrade our processes every week, we’re becoming the best practice repository for how to effectively and efficiently execute all repetitive digital business processes.
After just a fifteen minute initial onboarding delegation call with your account manager, we’ll add your first three process delegations, and have them up and running on The Digital Assembly Line within 24 hours. We have 100 agents in 16 countries around the world that make an average of $5/hr and whom we bill out at $15/hr.
The Digital Assembly Line structures and coordinates labor: routing delegations to an agent that is online right now who is trained and qualified in your process, giving them process instructions and temporary access to your accounts, tracking their time, reviewing their work, and letting them send templated emails to you as your Invisible Assistant.
Invisible is taking both vertical and horizontal approaches to automation. For over a quarter, we’ve had double digit margin gains by using scripts, scrapers and operator tools for vertical automations. And this quarter, we’re building our Robotic Process Automation framework with two approaches: A) using computer-vision overlays on screen recordings of our agents, then machine-learning their workflows (CV+ML), and B) using textual and system data for pattern prediction (NLP+ML).
Monthly subscriptions begin at $250 for 1/8th of an FTE, then expand to $500 for 1/4 FTE, $1K for 1/2 FTE, and $2K for 1 FTE. After that, companies move to annual contracts starting at $50K for 2 FTEs.
Pricing is results-based: Invisible provides speed benchmarks for every process based on a $15/hr rate for the initial time it takes us to execute a process, before process efficiency and automation gains.
LABOR: HIGH-LEVEL POSITIONING Contra Upwork If you choose to outsource your work, you can’t use the BPO industry (Business Process Outsourcing) unless you’re running a departmental level process with hundreds or thousands of workers doing the same thing.
If you’re a SMB or an individual knowledge worker or small team in the enterprise, you can’t use the BPO industry, you have to use a labor marketplace.
Upwork is the biggest labor marketplace in the world: after posting a job on Upwork, you have to filter through dozens of applicants, interview a few, find one that you like — say, Joe in The Phillipines — then you have to trust Joe with access to your accounts and your data, design a process for Joe, train Joe to run the process, and QA check Joe’s work to make sure he’s doing it without mistakes. Once Joe is doing 40–60 hours of work for you per week, you have to hope he doesn’t leave for a higher paying client, or get sick or go on vacation or have an internet outage. If you want to scale your process, you have to do all of this over again and hire Sarah in Mexico or Tim in Honduras, etc., until you’re coordinating and managing a small army, and it has become a full time job for you.
Invisible is a scaleable Upwork, a managed service instead of a marketplace: it doesn’t matter how many processes, or how many hundreds or thousands of hours of work you need done: it just scales. We handle all of these frictions: from security, to hiring, training, process design and upgrading, QA checking, labor coordination and management, and price and time predictability.
AUTOMATION: HIGH-LEVEL POSITIONING Contra UiPath If you choose to automate your work, you also can’t use the RPA industry (Robotic Process Automation) unless you’re running a departmental level process with hundreds or thousands of workers doing the same thing.
There are four RPA unicorns — UiPath, AutomationAnywhere, BluePrism and WorkFusion — and they have similar models. They rely on channel partners like Deloitte and Accenture to identify opportunities to deploy RPA within the enterprise. For example, there might be 1,000 people in the accounts receivable department at Citibank doing one process over and over. These consultants will map the process and export the data to their RPA vendor, say UiPath, which then takes the screen recordings, does a computer vision overlay, and automates 5, 10, 15 or max 20% of the workflows, so that Citi can then fire 100 or 200 people. These cost savings are so massive, and enough of these departmental level processes exist in the Fortune 500, that they’ve financed the economics of this industry without forcing consolidation between competitors.
As an innovator in the RPA space, Invisible has three advantages.
First, we target everyone the BPO and RPA industries have overlooked: SMBs and individual knowledge workers and small teams within the enterprise, that are too small for the big players to bother with — they just don’t fit within their pricing, service delivery, and business models. If these smaller players want Robotic Process Automation, they have to use Invisible.
Second, we provide immediate relief through labor on our Digital Assembly Line within twenty-four hours: our clients don’t have to wait for months to get an engineering solution, and they don’t have to get budgetary approval to make large investments in custom software.
Third, because we don’t rely on middle-men, we build direct relationships with our clients, who trust us as their infinite delegation resource; and we can watch our own workers doing the work. We have the same advantage that Tesla has in the self-driving car space: they can monitor their own vehicles and don’t have to rely on partners to send them system data. In the same way, we watch our own workers doing the work, instead of relying on middle-men channel partners to talk to clients for us, export their screen recording data, and send it to us. By acquiring more data faster, we’re going to be able to automate faster in the long run.
POSITIONING WITHIN THE BROADER LANDSCAPE Because the labor markets are just as complex as the capital markets, it is important to position the company not just against Upwork and UiPath, but against the broader landscape.
On the labor side, we see: — Concierges (Magic, formerly Fin): $1/min for concierge service over text, oriented towards consumers. — Virtual Assistant Services (Zirtual): $25/hr for a dedicated virtual assistant, who is not limited to process work, but can do contextual and creative work as well. — Vertical Specialists (Wonder, Carta, InDinero, Pilot): pay for specialized point solutions, can’t support you with custom business processes. — H-APIs (Scale, Figure8, Mechanical Turk): for data tagging and other processes that need to be run at web-scale, can’t log into your accounts to execute custom business processes. — Human-Powered AI Scheduling (Clara, X.AI): focused on mass-market simple scheduling, not custom scheduling plugged into other business processes (like sales and hiring). — BPOs: as aforementioned, only available to departmental buyers where hundreds or thousands of workers are doing one process.
On the automation side, in addition to the four RPA unicorns previously mentioned and analyzed, there are low-code tools. Low-code tools have received a lot of pushback in the enterprise because, ironically, even though they don’t require knowledge workers to know how to code, they do require a high level of technical fluency, and aren’t the ideal UX. The ideal UX is to do a video call and screen-share with a dedicated account manager, and use human language to delegate, as if you were delegating to an intern or assistant: which is exactly what Invisible offers as an alternative.
EPILOGUE: MARKET POSITIONING AND THE ART OF WAR
“Market landscape” translates into the second and third categories by which Sun Tzu organizes his treatise:
The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field. These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline.
Which are then defined:
HEAVEN signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.
EARTH comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death.
To paraphrase: Market TIMING and Market LANDSCAPE are fully two-fifths of effective strategy!
Sun Tzu emphasizes terrain over and over. Only a foolish general ignores the landscape; that is a form of blindness. The key principle is non-competition: find the white space, avoid the red space. Avoid competing where others are strong. Strike where others are weak.
Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards. So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.
This analysis is just a first draft. Ernesto Miguel is doing research every day to deepen our understanding of the market.
All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.
… Now all can see.