Startup Spotlight #38: Invisible Technologies

Invisible allows you to build and run any custom business process within 24-48 hours.

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I got the chance to speak with Francis Pedraza, co-founder and CEO of Invisible Technologies, about what he’s working on at his startup, and any advice he has for emerging entrepreneurs.

Invisible Technologies helps companies outsource and automate their recurring business processes. Our proprietary platform, the Digital Assembly Line, is like a combination of the best automation tools (think Tray.io or RPA) and a futuristic BPO. Our global laborforce of process experts map our clients' core business operations, usually during a quick zoom call, and turn them into scalable repetitive processes that are executed using the optimal combination of automation tools and curated human intelligence. We excel in running processes where automation is too brittle or too limited to get the job done, and humans just aren't fast enough. Have a process that might fit the bill? Let Invisible's army of knowledge workers in Iron Man suits get it done.

"To learn more, here's our latest website, overview deck and demo video."

Francis leads a team of 250 people and raised $6M in capital to build Invisible, a disruptive work-automation company that provides custom operations support to scaling businesses. Previously, Francis raised $2.6M from top investors to build Everest, a social network based on “what you do” not “who you know.” He worked briefly in consulting and at Google after studying history at Cornell. People who’ve worked with Francis say his strategy comes from “clear, deep thinking,” that he excels at “building models, communicating vision, and motivating his team.” Most importantly he’s refreshingly honest about success, failures, and his learnings along the way. By the time he dies, he hopes to have read all the Penguin classics.

Invisible Technologies is hiring! Please send your resume to astoryforsoda@gmail.com for me to forward it to the founders. Share this article with others for them to apply for the role too!

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Startup Spotlight: Invisible Technologies

Invisible Technologies founder Francis Pedraza.

Problem: Every business has inefficient processes. For any custom and complex workflow, these cannot be fully automated, so they have to be outsourced to a BPO, and BPOs deliver a notoriously bad experience on pretty much every dimension: convenience, flexibility, quality, speed, price...

Market: Top-down: there are 230 million knowledge workers in the world (within my lifetime I expect this number to reach over 50% of the human race, which is also growing, so say 5B+) that spend 40%+ of their time (Harvard study) doing repetitive work that will someday be automated, but can't or isn't automated yet. Within the United States alone, there are 50M knowledge workers with an average salary of $70K, so 40% of their time is worth $1.4T per year. Bottoms-up: in the functions and industries that we've already found use cases, there's no reason that Invisible can't grow to an $80M ARR run rate by 2024.

Solution: Invisible is creating a new category called "Worksharing" that combines outsourcing and automation into a seamless experience, so you have the best of both worlds, without the limitations of either. You can delegate any custom and complex workflow on a Zoom call with our operations team, in our app, or even over email to your Invisible Assistant, then you'll see initial results within 24 hours with automation gains driving unit prices down over time.

Team: When asked about their teams, most founders name-drop big brand names to show pedigree -- but to me, the most interesting thing about our team is our partnership model and ownership culture. All 26 partners (the word "employee" is forbidden!) in the company agree to a transparent, no-exceptions, meritocratic model, where everyone earns meaningful equity over time (there is still a pathway to over 1% for everyone who sticks around) and our salaries and bonuses are tied directly to business performance: you can quiz them, and any of them can tell you the Big 4 numbers on our Income Statement last month (Revenue, Gross, Contribution and Net).

Recent Success:

Pedraza: I'm obsessively systematic: every report I receive from every team at the company gets titled, tagged, formatted, and filed in a Reports database; every Deployment on every one of our Products gets titled, tagged, formatted, and filed in a Deployments database, and so on and so forth with every Plan, Decision, etc. Every type of "thing" needs a place in the system, and the "things" need to be all linked together until order emerges from chaos, which moves strategic insights and breakthroughs outside of the realm of luck, and into the realm of science. When I was a boy, I loved building castles with legos and wooden blocks, making them even more epic and impregnable: building a business, on the good days, feels like that -- and I drop into the flow. This orientation was reinforced through my liberal arts education; for example, when I was twelve I took a course in Euclidean geometry and marveled at how Euclid built 13 books of proofs from an extremely minimal set of premises, systematically reasoning outward from first principles...

Recent Struggle:

Pedraza: My weakness is the opposite of my strength: obsessively systematic people struggle to find and focus on the critical path. My tendency is to busy myself with building and upgrading systems, diagnosing all problems in the business as symptoms of systemic weakness, instead of looking for the shortcut, asking for best-practices and playbooks, or zeroing in on the one highest leverage activity that I can do right now, to topple the next domino in the sequence of dominos that stand between me and my medium-term objective. I compensate for this weakness by hiring strong critical path people, and by balancing the critical path ethos with the systematic ethos in our culture. And balancing is required: if you ask the systematic people to tell you the time, they'll build you a watch; but if you ask the critical path people to get to the other side of the river, they'll go around, instead of building a bridge.

Founder Advice:

Pedraza: Get organized by putting your "brain on paper" in a digital knowledge base on Notion -- if you don't, you'll always feel like you're operating in a fog. Here's my personal one, most of which is public: francispedraza.com. My company has one too, but it is not yet public.

Three Cool Founders You Should Know About:

Pedraza: Here are three founders you should check out next!

  • Richard Craib, Founder of Numerai: Numerai manages an institutional-grade long/short global equity strategy for the investors in our hedge fund.

  • Edward Lando, Founder of Conduit: Conduit connects the world’s best operator-investors and founders building the next generation of startups around the world.

  • Justin McCarty, Founder of Bungalow: Bungalow creates space and connects communities so people can live richer lives together.

Who should I profile next? Leave your suggestion in the comments:

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