UiPath is the leader in the robotics process automation (RPA) space. It’s one of the fastest-growing SaaS businesses of all time, going from $1M to $600M ARR in 5 years .
UiPath began life in 2005, in Bucharest, Romania, founded by Daniel Dines and Marius Tîrcă as a services business known as DeskOver. In 2015, it was still a services business with just 10 employees, but they saw an opportunity to build out an automation platform that enables folks to build bots and scripts that automate repetitive tasks  and raised a $500k seed round to do it . They changed their name to UiPath and pivoted into the burgeoning RPA space. Revenues jumped from $1M to $100M ARR in just 21 months  by growing from 100 to 700 enterprise customers  and becoming Romania’s first unicorn in the process . It went on to IPO in 2021 and has since become the dominant player in the RPA category, automating tasks for a potential market of some 600 million knowledge workers  with a horizontal solution that works across industries .
Community has been a strategic advantage for UiPath and has played a key role in building the RPA category. This deep dive explores its dizzying range of programs, identifying the critical elements and how they drive the company’s growth strategy.
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UiPath has a big Enterprise focus. 80% of the Fortune 10 and 61% of the Fortune Global 500 are customers  including organizations like BMW Group, Dentsu, and Huawei . 75% of its revenue comes from customers who spend $100K+ with them each year.
57% of revenue comes from selling licenses. A typical bot costs $15k per year, and its average license cost is $66k/year. A further 38% of revenue comes from maintenance and support contracts. The remaining 5% is split across customer education and technical services, as well as its Marketplace where it sells pre-written code and templates for automating common software tasks .
It has two main GTM channels: direct sales and channel partners. Its channel partners include big system integrators and consultancy firms, like Deloitte, Accenture, Capgemini, Ernst and Young, etc. However, it’s an extensive network of some 5,000+ regional system integrations, value-added resellers, and business consultants who provide training and implementation services  on top of UiPath’s growing tech stack of some 20+ products .
Its growth strategy is based on five main areas :
UiPath made a couple of bold moves early on, which unlocked its huge growth potential. Firstly, in 2016, they opened up its software to all with a 60-day free trial . This was unheard of in the Enterprise-focused space, where long sales cycles are common before a user ever gets a chance to play around with the actual software. To drive awareness, and encourage use and adoption they doubled down on this soon after by offering a fully free ‘community edition’ of its software for small businesses, universities, and individuals , while keeping the free trial in place for its enterprise edition .
Then in 2017, it launched the UiPath Academy, the world’s first open online training platform for RPA users .
“We realized that there weren’t many people trained in UiPath globally,” says Kulpreet Singh, the first Sales leader hired at UiPath :
“That was impacting our clients, slowing down their ability to scale up RPA programs. Our solution to this was to put our entire training curriculum online as part of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), free of cost.”
As Guy Kirkwood, Chief Evangelist at UiPath from 2015 to 2021 says, “all the vendors were charging for training” but they decided to give it away “to make sure as many people get their hands on our software as we can” . Providing self-led, advanced training and certification , the platform set out to teach new skills and enable registrants to keep up to date with platform developments, assess skills, solve challenges, and make connections with peers in the industry . It proved to be a huge hit with some 200,000 people in 139 countries using the platform by the end of 2018. That figure has continued to grow, surpassing 1.5M people in Spring 2021 . In doing this, they created a new profession: the RPA developer . It needed to sustain this excitement around the category and provide a means to connect customers, partners, freelancers, and enthusiasts in the space . So they created the UiPath Community, which is now the largest automation community in the world.
This community supports its core growth pillars. We’ll step through each pillar to uncover the role community plays.
“You build categories because it's the right timing,” says UiPath founder Daniel Dines, “there is the right moment in life and you are somehow chosen to be in that place” .
Until then, instead of automating repetitive tasks, companies simply outsourced them. “The business process outsourcing industry had matured enough,” says Daniel. “It was very hard to do all sorts of process engineering things… So they were desperate to get into automation” . UiPath had somewhat stumbled into the RPA space. They first started creating an RPA solution in 2012, the genesis for which was a small consumer tool that enabled people to extract a word in a document and search for it, or get a definition. Through customer feedback, they developed this into a code-based process automation solution. They then heard from customers it was too difficult to use so they created a low-code, no-code platform around it .
Its product was coming together, but as Guy explains, “We really had to create the category” .
Alongside the release of the UiPath Academy, they started to educate the market further about the power of RPA. Initially through SEO, content, and social media: “We embraced the inbound marketing framework and tried to be as open as possible,” explains Vlad Ionescu, who was UiPath’s Global Head of Growth Marketing until 2020 . This proved critical to getting more RPA developers into the industry, but a community was needed to scale and sustain this for UiPath . Creating a community around its open approach was even a recommendation in the first Forrester Wave report into the RPA category, which included UiPath as a leader .
The success of the UiPath Academy and its free Community Edition led to accelerating growth, but that meant more users asking questions and needing support . Ana Cinca, UiPath’s VP of Enabling Technologies from 2016 to 2020, highlights that “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 they looked to crowdsource support .
They wanted to create a place where these users could connect and receive the support they needed, so they partnered with Discourse on a forum at the end of 2016 . “We count a lot on the Discourse community,” says Corina Gheonea, Global Community Director at UiPath. “So for us, that's the primary platform that started our community” , which now has more than 150,000 active members . The forum acts “like a repository of content that gets developed and is easily accessible to others,” says Corina. It has proven to be a successful solution, by 2018, 70% of all UiPath’s web traffic went to either its Discourse forum or its public-facing documentation reducing support requests to its customer service team .
Not resting on its laurels, the UiPath community team has since introduced many other programs to help support the training and development of RPA skills.
In 2018, they launched the Academic Alliance, a set of programs to “teach automation skills to more than 1 million students in the coming years,” says Ana . By partnering with Higher Education institutions and workforce development organizations, UiPath aims to give students the skills and connections they need to become automation experts. Programs within this initiative include :
“We expected a really slow uptake”, says Guy, but within a couple of years, “we now have… over 800 universities around the world that are now teaching RPA as part of their curriculum” .
“Thousands of new citizen developers have been onboarded with the help of the Reboot Your Skills program and the engaging RPA Summer School,” says Corina, which saw community team members work alongside MVPs from within the community to deliver . Those initiatives were started in 2021, which is also when UiPath introduced its Community Mentorship program, pairing mentees with experienced RPA development professionals who guide them to foster both soft skills and technical expertise . Mentors must have at least three years of experience in the development and implementation of RPA and are incentivized to participate as a chance to give back to the community, enhance leadership and interpersonal skills, challenge themselves, and discover fresh perspectives . The program is facilitated through the mentoring platform, PushFar, which helps community members to find mentors and mentees, as well as helps UiPath to vet mentors to ensure trust in the program. “Mentoring is a strong pillar for bringing people into our world,” remarks Andreea Tomescu, Senior Community Manager at UiPath .
Other ways the community team supports the wider RPA category, include:
A category is just a unique space in the minds of buyers. However, for it to be recognized by industry analysts at firms like Gartner, Forrester, IDC, Everest, and others, it must be “established, distinct, and viable” . UiPath’s community initiatives have made sure that the RPA category isn’t just a buzzword, but a real market around which people can build their careers and businesses can hire skilled staff to make their automation investments a success. The RPA category has grown rapidly, resulting in a need for more RPA professionals . Programs like the Academy and the Academic Alliance ensure this need can be met now and long into the future.
“You want to get on to those Gartner Magic Quadrant, the Forrester Waves, the Everest Peaks, and so on,” says Guy. “It took us about six months to go from nowhere to be on the first Forrester Wave of RPA, which is unheard of” . Daniel says, “A great friend and advisor mentioned that one of the most important things for UiPath in its growth will be how we fare in a Gartner Magic Quadrant”. When Gartner released its first RPA Magic Quadrant in 2019, UiPath “earned the top position on both the Execution and Vision axes” leading competitors to the coveted furthest top-right position .
Beyond establishing the RPA category, another core part of UiPath’s growth is its land and expand strategy, which forms a big part of its go-to-market . This has a combined focus of not just acquiring new customers, but seeking to expand within their existing customer base, too. It laid out its goals around this in its S-1 filing :
To pull this off it needed to both improve the capabilities of its platform as well as improve awareness in the market and educate them on its uses .
“We employ a variety of marketing tactics to reach prospective customers, including community evangelism, in-person and digital events, content marketing, digital advertising, search optimization, partner marketing, social media, and public relations.”
Community supports many of these efforts. Corina says “Colleagues from customer support, from product, from sales, customer success, field marketing, everyone benefits in a way from community” .
For example, working with Field Marketing, Corina says they “make sure that we understand the… priorities and go and develop communities in those specific regions.” With Sales and Customer Success, “Once we have a customer, we want to help them generate adoption… We’ve started developing playbooks for them and other things that can bring adoption… We also encourage our community members to write content for our community blog and share reusable components on the UiPath Marketplace” .
The success of its land and expand strategy can be seen in its dollar-based net retention rate, which was a best-in-class 153% and 145% in 2020 and 2021, respectively . This is achieved thanks to a fast sales cycle, short time-to-value, and a strong upsell rate. UiPath sees a lot of inbound interest and can convert that to a sale in a few weeks to around four months since customers can freely try out its software first. They also typically see enterprise clients coming back to buy more within 6 months of initial purchase . Its community efforts have helped customers identify additional processes to automate which increases the number of robots and paid seats they need. Companies starting with a sub-$100k contract and then expanding to $1M+ within a year is how they grew ARR 81x among their top 50 customers . It has also been able to scale its sales efforts quickly thanks to its channel partner focus, rather than only building up its own direct sales force .
For Corina, “It's important to keep the community as connected as possible to everything that is related to product and to make sure that we bring the voice of the community” .
To achieve this, they run the Insider Program, in which members can “shape the next-generation product.. by previewing our latest innovations and sharing feedback directly to our Product Engineering team” . The program has more than 3,900 participants  and the product team “demo directly to them,” says Corina, resulting in “honest, brutal feedback” but cautions that such “feedback is valuable and you need to let it come to you as it is”. They also benefit from hearing how its end-users are deploying its solutions. The result is “We generate quite many use cases on different industries. This way, professional services can learn quite a lot and see which are the use cases that are of interest,” says Corina . Applying this feedback to its products has led to creating tools that are loved by practitioners, achieving an NPS of 71 as of February 2021, putting it up there with some of the world’s most beloved products .
In 2018, UiPath launched a Marketplace (originally named UiPath Go!) for reusable automation components and snippets of code to improve customer workflows . It’s part of their open architecture, which enables hundreds of enterprise application integrations to be built around the platform, both by UiPath and the UiPath community of technology partners .
To encourage the development of components for its Marketplace the community team began running a regular series of Hackathons . Many of these events are themed, like its Automation for Good event, which focuses on creating solutions for healthcare and well-being, education, and accessibility. With its Hackathons, Corina says they “challenge our community members to come up with new ideas, to use the product in different, innovative ways” . Often run as competitions with prize money for the most creative solutions , they gathered 560+ developers from 38 countries in 2022 .
They also run an annual UiPath DevCon event, a virtual global conference split over 2 days with 13 hours of sessions to help RPA developers make the most of their automation programs. Gathering 10,000 RPA developers and solution architects, conference sessions are led by UiPath product managers, developers, practitioners, and experts from within the UiPath customer and partner community .
In addition to programs aimed at specific business outcomes, it runs several programs that run across multiple areas and forge better, lasting relationships among community members as well as with the community team.
The UiPath community team runs three main advocacy programs: MVP, Automation Champions, and Student Champions .
Established in 2018, the UiPath Community Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) are AI automation enthusiasts dedicated to learning and sharing knowledge within the community. Now with over 100 MVPs , the program recognizes community members for their outstanding contribution, innovation, and evangelism in the automation community . Selection requires members to meet criteria related to technical expertise, contribution, and vision, which includes a minimum of 2 years RPA experience . Folks who fit the profile are invited to an interview with one of the Community Managers, you then progress to a final roundtable interview with UiPath Product Leaders and other candidates . Once admitted into the program, there is an expectation of continued contribution, and in return MVPs get exposure, access to company leaders, and exclusive invites to events .
The goals of member contributions are quite flexible, as Corina explains :
“If someone is really good at explaining things on our forum, we encourage them to continue to do that. If someone is really good at being a speaker, but not necessarily into writing content, we let them do that. We go for their strength.”
For example, Corina recalls that “This year we held the RPA Summer School with the help of our MVPs and we also had MVPs delivering two of our external training sessions” .
Multi-time UiPath MVP Frank Schikora, who is CTO at Roboyo, says “You can basically pave your own way… in terms of how you want to interact and contribute to the community.” Frank goes on to explain that ”they ask, what is your plan and how we can help you? You can really dream big… and UiPath will support you” . Finding time to contribute can be a challenge, “We all have our day-to-day jobs,” says Frank, but “there is also an intrinsic drive for me to contribute”, plus “we are all from different companies… so there's a little bit of a, I would say, friendly competition” .
The MVP functions as a community within the wider community with exclusive events. For example, in 2022, they held three MVP Summits that brought together MVPs and product leaders in India, Romania, and the United States to share ideas, use cases, and product feedback . Frank remarks “I've given some harsh feedback over the years, especially around licensing and also some technical parts, but it never gets received badly… you brainstorm the problem together with the UiPath team… and work together to make the product better” .
Another focus within the team is on content creation. Here they source contributions from community members for their RPA blog: “the author gets recognition and the community can get the information,” says Corina, and they also seek contributions to the Marketplace, too .
The blog started in May 2019, led by then Regional Community Manager, Diana Morgan . In the first two years, they sourced 83 blog posts (38 in year 1, 45 in year 2), which resulted in 172,000 views with an average time on page of 4m 31s . Their focus is on organic traffic through SEO, and as Diana explains, they would “have Excel sheets of different keywords that our SEO team put together, and what I had to do was align this with certain community members” .
Their goal is to publish 3-5 posts a year related to each of its 20 products. So Diana would match different members with specific skills to certain keywords and ask to see if they’d like to write a blog post on the subject. “It could be anywhere from two weeks to three months that I would get a blog post from a community member,” says Diana so it was always important to have a solid backlog of posts to ensure a regular publishing cadence . “When I started the blog no one internally wanted to write,” recalls Diana, “it was a really hard struggle to get buy-in from my colleagues.” But that soon changed once the blog began to get some traction on social media, suddenly “we actually had internal contributors participate in the blog, too” . The content produced wasn't just useful for gaining organic traffic, some posts have become “a blog post that every sales rep sent to every customer” .
The process around publishing has become more rigorous over time, initially starting with just a developer check on technical specifics, this now involves multiple reviews from product and a product marketing check to make sure they have “the right type of content as well as quality content”. This process is managed with Contentful and Trello, using Dynamic Signal to make getting staff to share posts on social media easier for them, too .
The final core program UiPath run is community-led events. Starting with a meetup for 11 people  this is now up to 60,000 registrations across 600 events in 43 countries . They began with Meetup but now use Bevy to manage their events program .
They’ve scaled the program using a chapter model with each chapter leader managing and scaling groups autonomously, extending the global reach of the community into multiple cities around the world . Corina says that, while “I have a global team of regional community managers, my focus with them is not to encourage them to do more events… my focus is more on how many out of the existing community events are led by the community, because we know that in the long run this is how we are going to scale” .
Cristina Vidu, Global Community Marketing Manager, notes that the power of the chapter model is that “Our local community builders… actually grow the community horizontally for us… they empower the local promotion of RPA.” And in return, “we empower them by supporting them with coaching, with playbooks, and we actually onboard them to the [Bevy] platform and we teach them how to use the platform”. In the coaching “we teach them, for example, how to do LinkedIn outreach and where they might find these new people to join the community,” says Cristina .
While Bevy provides a central place to host and manage the events, providing some commonality for things like the visual branding of events, Diana comments that “You have to let go of that control a little bit,” noting that it’s difficult to keep a handle on exactly how members will re-use visual assets. “It's beautiful to see how a brand can be permeated through a different lens, through different people,” says Diana, reflecting that “one of the core parts of creating community is that you have to let it take a life of its own” .
The benefits of meetups to UiPath are in building real connections between members, receiving feedback and insights, and increased adoption of new features .
With so many programs the UiPath team has become adept at testing and scaling programs quickly. Each program created relates to a specific business objective. “We try not to do things just because it's fashion, it's trend,” says Corina, but “by making sure that there is a bigger purpose like everything that we do gets aligned to something” within the business. “We have the freedom to define projects,” Corina explains, so they will create a program, “give it a try and see the outcome of it” .
“If that creates value for at least a few, that's good. And from there, we take it and see if we can scale it further, or if it was only just a nice idea… it needs to end there.”
Measuring the outcome of a program in a short space of time can be challenging, but Corina explains that “we focus first on ensuring that there are qualitative metrics… that there is a story to tell,” this gives them the support to then scale it further, and it’s then they’ll begin “to go into the quantitative metrics” .
The UiPath community team is a small but mighty team of 7 people . It’s split into two, one part is within Marketing, while the other sits within Product. The product team focuses on feedback and the forum, while the other team picks up the other programs . However, the team has bounced around internally, starting in Marketing, and moving into GTM/Customer team, before landing back in Marketing . The team uses a range of tools to report on its progress, using Google Data Studio to gather analytics and analyze them in Tableau and Power BI, as well as pulling stats from Marketo.
When reporting to stakeholders they’re careful to not get too much into the weeds of specific stats, but more tell a story with data to clearly show how their work is impacting each department that they’re working with . The main metrics they focus on are engagement and new user acquisition, showing how people “get value as fast as possible in the format they prefer,” says Corina. This message is then tailored to each team, so with Marketing, for example, “we talk with marketing about the number of participants… customers who participate or speak” as well as which “customers are going to be there as an attendee” at an event. With HR, they reflect on how colleagues are getting involved in their programs, while with product they focus on what they've learned and how the products are getting adopted .
Over the last 7 years, as the UiPath business has grown at breakneck speed, the UiPath community has helped drive and sustain this growth. They've built a global community of more than 1.5M people who are building and sharing automation, transforming the way their organizations work. Recognized as a strategic advantage from early on, the community has helped establish the wider RPA category, helping make it one of the fastest-growing business categories and solidifying UiPath’s place as a leader in it.
That’s it! That’s how community growth works at UiPath. For more detail, dig into the sources below. If you found this newsletter useful, please share it with friends and colleagues. And if you haven’t already, subscribe below. ✌️