As enterprises continue to migrate applications and workflows to the cloud, Storm has been interested in investing in companies that make that process even more compelling and easier. Companies need to be able to connect applications (think marketing automation with CRM) but many want to go beyond and enable the custom workflows where they can use business rules to integrate other data and devices into their SaaS applications. One of the enormous benefits of cloud based applications is the ease at which they can be connected together via APIs.
Much of the technology today is complex and meant for IT experts only. Many of the large consulting firms still have enormous practices building bespoke custom integrations between legacy on-premise applications. In many cases, the integration and custom workflows cost as much as the application itself.
It doesn’t have to be that hard.
The team at Workato had the vision to build a company with enterprise requirements and at the same time reduces complexity to enable business users to build and operate. Workato achieves results by having an incredible focus in UX and by being cloud native in its architecture and deployment. The team has the credibility in the enterprise, based on their prior experience, and understands what is required to deliver — truly deliver — enterprise scalability and reliability, which, for this market, is critical. After all, if your business rules fail, your application has essentially failed. This is the team to build this solution. This team also has the consumer chops to bring amazing user experiences, which has become a critical requirement in the modern enterprise.
We wrestle with lots of questions with any investment we make — and the questions change depending on the situation. One of the questions surrounding Workato — why fund a new company where there are large incumbents like Tibco, Informatica and the recently public MuleSoft among others. Workato is in a competitive market. Mulesoft is an incredible company and has built a great business.
Workato has clearly demonstrated a growing market for the need to connect and integrate custom workflows into applications. We believed:
(1) the market for building business rules around SaaS applications is going to grow as adoption grows and that it will be the business users who will be looking to building and managing these rules
(2) the most interesting part of the market is the enterprise which requires certain functionality and capability
(3) having an architecture that was fundamentally designed for the cloud and cloud native would be an advantage with companies that had their applications and data in the cloud (with some on premise).
(4) Finally, for the business users (like sales ops, marketing ops) who will be building and managing them — user experience will become of paramount importance.
So, we felt that integration in the modern world requires a platform that is powerful, yet so easy to use that business users can build and operate them. Without that IT would be completely swamped with building integrations.
We search out lots of advice and opinions before we invest — in addition to customer and team references like most investors. I got some advice from a long time friend, whom I trust — but even more important knows the market as well as anyone. He counseled me not to invest mainly because the market was crowded. He had never met Workato or used the product. I listened and took his input seriously — but in the end I obviously went another direction.
When looking at a new investment, there are always lots of opinions if you seek them out with some more meaningful than others.
Sometimes you need to do the work, believe in your thesis and make the investment. Widely held opinions are interesting and important to understand but don’t necessarily lead to the best investment decisions. In speaking with customer references, while it was clear there were other options, it was also clear Workato had something very special.
Workato’s thesis on where the market is headed and their approach is differentiated. We believe this team matched to this opportunity will continue to build a great business in the years to come. Welcome Workato!