Editor’s Notes: In this post, The CEO talks about Invisible’s strategy, value proposition, and the building of a services front-end with a product back-end.
The Digital Operations Need Discovery & Fulfillment Machine
Although Venture Capital is a young industry, it has dogmatized quickly. According to orthodoxy, a startup’s corporate strategy should be: pick a role or industry (aka “vertical”), identify its pain point, build a product that solves it, sell the product to all the buyers in that vertical, scale-at-all-costs, then build network effects and other barriers to defend your monopoly.
At Invisible, our strategy is different: target all verticals, let clients tell you their pain points, buid a horizontal product that allows you to deliver a service to solve any digital operations need within 24–48 hours, focus on profitable and controlled growth (instead of scaling-at-all-costs), prioritizing expansion over sales, and certainly building network effects and other barriers to defend our monopoly... but not stressing too much about competition because nobody wants to replicate this synthetic business model.
By building a services front-end with a product back-end, our corporate strategy is completely different. On the front-end we’re building a Need Discovery Machine. Our value proposition is: “Build and run any custom business process within 24–48 hours.” When clients learn we can build end-to-end solutions, practically overnight, to their digital operations problems, they give us a shot. If we deliver on their first delegation, they give us a second, and so on… The more problems we solve, the more workflows we build and run, and the more teams we support: the more deeply we integrate with an organization — there is almost limitless expansion opportunity in a large, operationally-intensive organization.
On the back-end, all of these “custom” business processes are being turned into structured data: we’re building processes in our Process Builder software, capturing all the screen recording and system data, and using a variety of automation approaches to automate the highest volume and easiest-to-automate steps. Also our workflow orchestration plaform coordinates our workforce of 200 agents, so that we can deliver work manually before it is automated. In other words, we’ve build a Need Fulfillment machine on the back-end.
And yes, the more clients we onboard, the more delegations they give us, the more processes we build, the more hours of work we record, the more structured data we accumulate, the more automations we build… the better it gets. The more time we have to upgrade our platform — our front-end: our Client Portal app, and Website with case studies, use cases, solutions pages, process store, and marketing collateral; and our back-end: Digital Assembly Line, Process Builder, and Agent Training, Performance & Payment — the better the platform gets.
I wonder if we succeed, what this will mean. I wonder if we will surface all the digital operations needs in the world, and I wonder if our ability to fulfill them with a horizontal platform will ultimately result in lots of vertical “products” or if we will just overturn VC Dogma entirely. But after all… Coase predicted it in the 1920s…