Follow-up Interview with Antti from Robocorp

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Mark and Brent catch back up with Antti Karjalainen the CEO of Robocorp.  Robocorp is the leading open-source RPA company that has recently released their GA release.  We dive into how they are supporting other open-source projects in the space and what tools are in the works in the coming months.  We also talk about how community-driven projects can help the initiatives of the company.  

We chat through how the team and Antti himself manages remote work and growing a team during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Brent shares his experience hiring automation engineers on upwork to write automation in Robot Framework.  Antti reveals some upcoming content that is in the works including an upcoming certification course.

Also Robocorp is hiring!


Catching up with Antti from Robocorp

• 51:37

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

rpa, developers, people, run, prem, company, building, robot, cloud, automation, product, framework, enterprise, code, partnerships, project, api, open source, business, hiring

SPEAKERS

Mark Percival, Antti Karjalainen, Brent Sanders


Brent Sanders  00:02

On this episode of the podcast, we catch back up with Antti from Robocorp, Robocorp has quickly become one of the leading companies in the open source RPA space. Since our first conversation robocorps' offering has expanded into a GA release, and has been an exciting evolution to pay attention to developer focus RPA. Thanks for listening. Today, I would love to just kind of recap how things have been going for you. I mean, updates on the business. I mean, so for our listeners, you were on? It's probably been two or three months since you were last on the podcast.


Antti Karjalainen  00:36

Yeah, I think that's in May.


Brent Sanders  00:37

Yeah, May. Yeah. So in that conversation, we were sort of learning about Robocorp, at least on my mind, and Mark's and we were learning about record from the beginning, we didn't really know much. Since then you give us access to the platform, which was in I think, a developer beta. Yeah. Since then, both Mark and I have been writing some new automations, we've gotten a chance to use the platform and fell in love with it, right? It's like, Cool it, we didn't really understand, I guess I can only speak for myself, but I didn't quite understand the difficulties of running some of these automations on a machine on a regular basis on a schedule, like you install your Python package. And you mentioned this in the conversation. Yeah, some of the challenges with like getting environment to work, like, you're gonna run it on a Windows Windows machine that has access to Outlook, like installing Python on Windows is easy, but you know, how it? How can you install sort of a package when I'm developing on a Mac? And I want to run it on a PC? How do you test that? How do you deploy it all sorts of interesting problems? So since then, you guys have had a GA release, which was beginning in July. Is that?


Antti Karjalainen  01:50

Yeah, it was first of July.


Brent Sanders  01:52

Yeah. So we have gotten a chance to dig into that. And I have a worker on one of my machines, I think Mark deployed one of a worker on a Digital Ocean machine that you know, just to kind of play around and see how it is, and everything's worked really well. So it's been fun, fun way for us to kind of get away from thinking about RPA with a graphical client, you know, we're both developers. So we totally, I think are, are far more educated on what the product looks like. And also, you know, the array sort of landscape of things out there. And so yeah, I guess we're much more aware of what you're up to, and really excited about, I think it's a, an interesting take on where the main part of automation is going. And we're where my mind goes is like, what's next? And what, what else? Do you guys see that that's happening? So anyways, I'll pause. I'm kind of gushing. I'm really excited about our last conversation. I'm excited about, you know, the developments in the open source space, particularly, but, um, maybe you could start by telling us about, you know, what you're thinking about? Or what's next on your road map?


Antti Karjalainen  03:05

Yeah, sure, I mean, really great that you've been able to try out the products and, and, you know, get some really use with them. You know, last time, it was May, since that we came out with the GA release general availability, so you're able to go on our site, download the tools, and just start using, and also our cloud is kind of free to use mode right now. We're going to come out with a, with a sort of marketing release, where we kind of push out the price tiers, on October 1st, that's our internal timeline. And we're going to also come up with partnerships as well at that time. So that's, that's our main milestone right now, the next next thing that we are focusing on, but obviously, there's a lot of things to build the tools that we have so kind of reiterating we are also going through a product naming change. So one thing that we realized you had some podcast episodes, by the way, I was listening. 


Brent Sanders  04:08

Yeah, we might have been, we might have been a little maybe not critical, but like laughing at how hard it is to name things. But also it's a, you know, there's a little bit of confusion, I think we were addressing around robot framework, Robocorp, Robocloud. And then the, I think, the RPA framework, which, when you're digging into Python, you're looking at your requirements file, you're going to have those as your requirements. And it's kind of unclear which ones which who owns what and like, which pieces is what. So I'm excited to hear what you guys are thinking. 


Antti Karjalainen  04:41

Yeah, so naming is some people say that, like 90% of software is about naming. When you write naming rights, it always just falls in place. So I'm kind of in that camp, and I think we need to go back and simplify some of the naming. So we actually work on those, those namings and probably going to change some, some parts. So just going back to those, we were going to probably have Robocorp Hub, Dev Tools, or Cloud Dev tools, or code. I haven't decided yet on that one, and then cloud. But so we have three major parts anyway, something where you learn tools where you build and a platform where you run. That's, that's the three major parts. And, and the tools that you use to build those are open source. So we have the Jupiter lab based development environment that we call internally, Robocorp Lab. And that's that hasn't been open sourced yet. But that's on their roadmap that will hopefully, within this year, we open sourced that as well. So but any, everything under the dev tools, build tools should be open source. And then the RPA libraries that we have for robot framework, which are right now called RPA framework. My chance that tutorial framework RPA is just a Python package name. To kind of clarify a bit of the relationship between trouble framework and our libraries. So those are kind of the major naming changes. And and then I think, I think one major thing that that we had changed last time after last time I was I was talking with you was the pricing model. So yeah, yeah. So that was something that I last time I mentioned that it will be flat rate bundles. But then again, we were seeing pretty interesting usage patterns inside the developer beta. And that encouraged us to go with instead, kind of a consumption based model where we base the prices on them actual random minutes that you have that the bots doing work?


Brent Sanders  06:56

Yeah, I mean, I think I think it makes a lot more, it all makes a lot more sense when you use it, of course. So my favorite part is being able to, you know, have a sort of a developer tier where you can kind of play around for free. Do you see that? remaining for a limited amount of time?


Antti Karjalainen  07:16

Yeah, absolutely. The developer tier will remain for sure. So we will continue to have a tier, you can just use to add products for free?


Brent Sanders  07:26

Sure, sure. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. You know, I would love to hear about and, you know, go into whatever you're comfortable with, but like, how has it been over the last couple months as you're scaling it, especially during COVID? I mean, this is kind of unrelated to automation, per se, but like, how is it been trying to grow a company during this pandemic? And, you know, obviously, you have to do pretty much everything remotely. So yeah, I, I would imagine you're under a fair amount of pressure to grow the team to grow the product to move everything forward. It's like, how is that all happening?


Antti Karjalainen  08:02

Surprisingly, well, I'd say. Obviously, COVID has had some impact on individual levels. So everyone is coping differently with the situation. But as for the company, we've already been remote first company from the beginning. So it wasn't that big of a change for us. And that, that change where we've actually been hiring in the US and in the EU, both on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean during COVID, so that has been pretty interesting to see growing team, like so far. 10 hours separate on the Bay Area.


Mark Percival  08:39

And what's that been like growing a team when you because you guys were remote first. But a lot of people are coming from organizations that are not remote first. So what's that been like? And when you grow a team when you get somebody who's not from one of those organizations? Yes. What are the what's the starting process?


Antti Karjalainen  08:52

Yeah, we have an on boarding process. For sure. So so you know, the good thing, if you can say that, it's a good thing. But the nice thing about the current situation is that this ever increasing number of people who actually willing to work remote first, and in a company that's fully distributed, six months ago, it wasn't that clear that you could actually hire people to work in that mode. But, you know, whenever we have people starting new employees, we, we go through an on boarding process that we have, I our HR is running that and and we have a little boot camp, I actually did one today, just earlier today, we where we go through our ways of working and company caution and these kind of things and we have a little segment about remote working principles and and kind of kind of how you get the best out of remote work. But you know, we have really flexible hours. So you can work basically, at any time of the day. And we try to encourage a synchronous communication whenever possible. So with COVID happening I've, I've actually started to transition the company towards a fully distributed model where we, we kind of see the whole world as a talent pool for ourselves and hire basically, anywhere we try to keep teams within a few time zones. But otherwise, we open to hiring anywhere in the world.


Brent Sanders  10:20

It's interesting. I mean, so we were added to, I think, to your public slack for, you know, the developer slack. And if that's any indication of sort of how you guys handle remote work, it's really good. It's very, everybody responds in threads. And it's, it works really well. I mean, despite the, as you mentioned, a 10 hour difference. People that are asking questions on West Coast time in the US are getting a response, and it's all kind of stays very searchable and organized. So there's something to be said, at least externally facing, it does seem like you've established some sort of pattern in the team is all incredibly, I found to be incredibly helpful. if people have questions, they get answers.


Antti Karjalainen  11:04

Yeah. And I just love the slack that we have for developers is, is really good way to stay in touch with our users and just get feedback and be able to solve problems. I'm there constantly myself as well, answering whenever I can do questions, and so our developers and product managers. So I think that's a really great way to engage with our early users.


Brent Sanders  11:28

Yeah. So one thing that speaking of slack, and I think this came up in a question around, Selenium, walk us through, I mean, I'd love to hear about some of the ancillary projects that are, you know, it sounds like maybe in part being funded by Robocorp, or, you know, looking to evolve this space, specifically around Selenium. I know there's a project in the works. But I'd love to get an overview of what your strategy is for sponsoring open source projects, and that, you know, contribute back to the ecosystem.


Antti Karjalainen  12:04

Yeah. So like I mentioned, we want to have everything, everything under the developer tools, be open source, and publicly available. So sponsoring open source projects really goes well into that thinking. We have been working on robot framework, language server protocol, support for a while that's working in VS code right now, we are also actually coming out with a VS code extension for Robocorp. So think about an extension that you can just install and get everything that you need to start building RPA in VS code, then then we are working inside the Jupiter ecosystem as well. And, and doing various things, they're sponsoring projects wherever that works out for us. And and, of course, in the robot framework space. We have been actually working with the Playwright, browser library. So there's still any mistake, as you know, it's it's, you know, familiar to everyone who asks, but it has some downsides to it as well. So we've been looking into how to bring browser automation to by 2020, or I like to say 2021. 2020 was an awful year but or has been so far. But just just this decade. And, Microsoft has this crazy project called Playwright. Which is kind of us. Yeah. Derivative of poverty. So we're basing and robot framework library on Playwright.


Mark Percival  13:45

Yeah, we played with it a bit seems very solid. It's just it's throw out certainly early. But I mean, obviously, Selenium sort of has these, these known issues.


Antti Karjalainen  13:53

Yeah, yeah. And when I'm, when I'm saying that we are basing a robot framework library. On top of that, it's basically we have funding a group of people who are doing open source projects around it, and giving them feedback as well. So we haven't actually, Robocorp employees haven't done much to, I think few pull requests here and there if nothing else, but but most of most of the work has been driven by the community, and they have been few people that we've funded for for a few months to get the project really going. So I think that's a great way to, to, you know, fund strategic initiatives, wherever we see, see that they have a chance to do an impact.


Mark Percival  14:33

Going back to like the Jupyter playbook thing, and the VS Code extension, there's obviously two different camps there. I mean, Jupiter playbook people are typically kind of your data scientists, people that are working on, you know, typically, and they're very much in the Python ecosystem, where somebody who's more VS Code is maybe more of a software developer background who spent more time on that side. Do you kind of see the bot building going into a Jupiter playbook World War or do you think it's going to split evenly? How do you kind of see that playing out?


Antti Karjalainen  15:00

That's a good question. I don't have an answer if, if I know that we would just just on that, yeah, yeah, hundred percent resources. I like VS code myself, you know, I've been using it for years. It's a good IDE, but then again, I I know that we can provide an integrated experience in in Jupiter lab where something does not. And well, it should be possible to do the same kind of experience in VS code. But this isn't kind of, well, it's a different thing. So VS code, obviously, everything is possible there. But with the lab, it's, we can make with the labs kernel, we can make some features that would otherwise be pretty impossible to do, or, like not as integrated as they are in in lab, in the VS code. So so. So I think I think we are continuing to develop both sides, I want to have an experience where you can come as a new developer into this ecosystem, download one installer, and just click through it, and you'll have everything that you need to build RPA processes. If you're already inside the VS code ecosystem, then obviously, don't don't leave that ecosystem, we want to be able to provide tools to as well.


Mark Percival  16:22

Yeah, it's really interesting, I think you, you can come from two different areas, right? If you're coming to RPA, it's sometimes you come to it from a developer standpoint of, Hey, I'm a developer, what's the tool that I use as a developer to develop an RPA. And the other side is where sort of the larger RPA firms play, which is a business person, and I'm coming at it from the standpoint of I want to get into RPA, because I want to automate some process. I know nothing about the software side. Obviously, for UI Path, they play on one side, and the developers are secondary. For it feels like for Robocorp right? Now, obviously, the developers are kind of the primary customer. But do you see how do you see kind of getting those business users involved in Robocorp more? Or like the ones that are a little more tech savvy, or that becomes comfortable? Is it this that one click installer? Or is there more to it around? I mean, obviously, evangelizing the package and things like that?


Antti Karjalainen  17:09

Yeah, well, I'm really not too optimistic about kind of citizen development developers in general. So, we're not targeting people who don't have any tech skills. To begin with. We are kind of the I think, I think our messaging over all this is very much the most targeted towards developers. And, and because you probably know this yourself, as well, as it takes some skills to to pull off good, software robot. So, you know, there are a lot of companies out there who try to make super easy to use local tools for business users. But then they will always have some limitations that make it, you know, difficult to work with, for property developers. So we are for now focusing on the developer audience. You know, some developers like working like data scientists, they like working with Jupiter environments, others like VS code, you know, we just have to see what picks up the most. And for the foreseeable future, we continue supporting both of those, but it's not out of kind of reasoning that we'd like to get more business users into RPA. Maybe it's, it's getting like, you know, your average UI Path developer who wants to sharpen their Python skills and start building for for Robocorp, they can have an easy access there with Robocorp lab.


Mark Percival  18:44

Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, we talk to people all the time that kind of fall into both buckets right there. They are comfortable somewhat with development, or they've gotten started on UiPath and learn development that way, and then moved into more heavy and heavy duty development. But you're right, it's still an incredibly complicated process. When it comes down to it. Ultimately, it's still software engineering. A lot of it. Yeah.


Brent Sanders  19:05

One of the things with one of the things with you know, deciding on a tech second, any whether you're doing automation, or software development in general is like, how many people know these languages and right, and so what resources are available to me as a, let's say, I'm on the business side, or I am software side, I mean, I've had a project recently where we used robot framework, and there's they're actually because of the existence of robot framework is an acceptance test tool. I was able to tap into a pretty large audience of developers, and this is just hopping on Upwork and posting a project and say, Hey, I need to automate this, this and that. And so there were 10s of developers immediately ready to hop on the project versus I haven't posted a job for UiPath. I would imagine there's something similar for each of the platforms but I think you guys have a kind of an interesting niche because of that similarity and around the acceptance tests that were,


Mark Percival  19:52

I think Brent, I think it did lead to some interesting confusion.


Brent Sanders  20:09

Yeah. So yeah, that was the one of the engineers kept writing tests, right. He kept, you know, I was trying to coordinate a process, right? It was all mostly web based. And he, every single page would be different. But he would you kept trying to write acceptance tests, and it was hard to kind of break the the barrier, maybe maybe there was a language barrier, or I was explaining myself in the brief correctly, but he kept testing the product teams working, which I appreciate it, but it was a, it was easy to find, I guess my, the shorter version of my comment is, I think you guys have an interesting edge because of that similarity back to robot framework where people have used that for for years. I mean, it's a long running project. And beyond that, you know, in that same project, one of the engineers sort of fell into an issue. So yeah, I'm not really sure how to do this. And you can always fall back to, to playing Python. And, you know, I was able to kind of step in and help there. But it was a good experience. And that's, I think, most tech savvy people doing automation, they're gonna look at like, okay, is part of the platform decision making process? And what resources? What resources are available to me? Do we have to train people? Or is there a market for, you know, developers using this platform? I think that's an interesting distinction you guys have, like, there's a decade it's been over 10 years that we've been around, right? 


Antti Karjalainen  21:34

Yeah, I think it has been open sourced since 2008. And yeah, I yeah, I fully understand. And I've been seeing how these test automation skills really carry over to the RPA World. Obviously, there are some differences, we have writing articles on our hub, how RPA different from test automation. But there are some core skills that really translate over nicely. And and you can really tap into those, that kind of talent pool that's out there people who know how to do test automation, they can they can start doing RPA, just as well, when you kind of explain the basic premise to them.


Brent Sanders  22:14

Yeah, and I actually learned more about robot framework from those engineers than I was really able to kind of glean from the Docs and from examples is, there are some really strong techniques and libraries that have been developed by some of these developers to make their lives easier. And it kind of opened my eyes as to like, Oh, you know, I, I knew how to do the basics. But there are some really good strategies and patterns to follow that, I think some people have gone really deep on and can leverage that. So, you mentioned putting documentation together, and you're writing articles. I mean, how's that going? I mean, that that has to, as I, as we got access to the early stage, you know, developer beta, going through the docs, you realize all this stuff has to be written in it kind of makes you realize, on long running, or existing open source projects, how much work goes into documentation? How are you? How are you managing, you know, putting those Docs together, it seems like you have a team kind of working on that time.


Antti Karjalainen  23:19

Yeah, we have actually two people working on the content full time. And then we are developing Robocorp hub as a content platform. And also, also, there's going to be a training platform as well, we have a beginners course there. So we're adding intermediate advanced courses. And, and we actually have an AI sort of Robocop ID, if you log in there, you can use the same ID across your developer tools and the cloud. And you can, you can do like online courses there, eventually, about robot framework RPA, and our developer tools, obviously. And when you complete enough of those, we'll, we'll have a certification that you can do as well. So think about a situation where you are trying to look for people who you could hire, you know, online, maybe to do an RPA task, you might look for people who will have this certification in their profile in day in the next year or so.


Brent Sanders  24:17

Yeah, that that's super helpful to know, because it does, you know, there's definitely going to be this conversation of like, you know, robot framework, but you understand the general idea that if I'm saying RPA what that means, in contrast, so,


Antti Karjalainen  24:30

Yeah, yeah. And I think content is super important. We really take content creation seriously and, and want to be able to produce high quality content for people out there who are willing to kind of interested in reading, learning about different techniques, you know, different kinds of use cases and so forth. There's a lot of things to document a lot of articles divided and a lot of tutorials to be made. So we are constantly working on that and this a long, long list of things that we want to write. Eventually it just.


Brent Sanders  25:03

Sure. Yeah, I'd imagine I mean, it. It's a kind of one thing you said before your said you're going to be working on in revealing maybe some new partnerships ongoing. And obviously that stuff still in the works. But when you say partnerships, do you mean, like other other things that you can other services that you could start to plug into or integrate closer with? Because I think one of the things that we're finding in some of our automation projects that use Robocloud is we're immediately getting into this idea of okay, what else are we going to plug into, and obviously, there's this world of putting my my quotes up, you know, hyper automation, or intelligent process automation, but the idea that, hey, you may be using RPA, to ingest some data or to kind of get data from various sources, maybe such as a legacy system or a file. And then you need to sort of do something with that data. And that may involve machine learning, or hitting some API or Deduping data until you start this idea of coordination. Yeah. And, yeah, I'd love to hear your thoughts around that. Like, is that what you mean? When you say partnerships?


Antti Karjalainen  26:14

Yeah, so we are, we are obviously, kind of one of the things ourselves as an open company, in a system, where we, where we have API's in the cloud, that you can use to integrate into the cloud. So So that's kind of out of the box, we are supporting webhooks, right now to launch processes. So you can, let's say, have a pipe form, you know, response trigger robot with the, with the answer in the content of their request. So, you can do that already. And, and we are supporting things like Google Cloud Vision, API, S and AWS. Sorry, Amazon's similar. Not Amazon's but as yours, similar things, well, probably AWS as well, I don't, I can't remember all of those integrations that we have in the RPA framework right now. But, but those are kind of standard. And in the partnership side, we actually looking more into, into like, partnering up with companies who use our products, they might integrate actually the cloud inside their own on product, or then, you know, use our products to serve their clients. So those are kind of the interesting partnerships that we are, we are now opening up and we can provide these companies with additional sales support and kind of engineering support when they need that. But I'd like to see a world where we don't need to go through like jumping too much hoops in, in partnership in the partnership world at this time. Instead, we can open up API's, and people can do those integrations without us being a gold tier as your partner or something.


Brent Sanders  27:58

Right, right. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's funny, you know, there's, there is just such a large market. We're laughing about this early and probably offline to the podcast. But you know, what we're talking with the Gartner Magic Quadrant, and just how, you know, RPA is, you know, its enterprise space, it has all these sort of benchmarks of the enterprise sales process. And in so we, obviously, I think we said this on the prior podcast, so refreshing to see, you know, something where you can get pricing, and you can understand what your costs are in a fairly straightforward way. Versus, you know, under, you know, having a, you know, call us we'll have lunch, we'll have dinner, we'll do a partnership, obviously, that that world has changed due to COVID for now, but it's not gone. It has not gone away.


Mark Percival  28:45

Yeah, how are you gonna get into the Magic Quadrant is what Brent wants to know.


Antti Karjalainen  28:49

Yeah, well, you can talk to a CMO about that. But right now, I mean, we are really not too interested about the Magic Quadrant to be honest, not to say that I will be looking down on Gartner on the work that they're doing is obviously important work in the enterprise space. But, but like I said, early on, we focus on the developers, the developers are our users. These are the people who we are going to care about not too much about the business analyst at this point. I am not on like CIO calls all the all the time every day I'm in close with the developers and seeing how they use that for us and, and trying to understand that better and make it a better platform for that use. So that's, that's the thing that we care most about. And I know that we, you know, we don't we don't usually compete in cases where there's like an enterprise buyer, as a team doing like a long evaluation of vendors, because we just don't have the manpower to compete in that space yet. But eventually we'll do about before we get there, we are focused on On, basically anyone who, as a developer wants to leverage open source tools to build automation, and then run that in through our cloud.


Mark Percival  30:10

But you know, it's um, obviously, you're going for the developer first, but you have a background where you understand the enterprise. Yeah, marketing, whatever, RPA. With regards to that, when you're building this organization, and you're building on the bringing on these developers, it's very easy from a developer standpoint, to to not think about what the enterprise is going to want, you know, and to kind of imagine down the road, when you kind of look to the roadmap and work with your developers on building this out, how do you kind of focus them and say, Well, yeah, you know, that's a great idea. But if we were to sell that, or do you do that? I mean, do you say, that's a great idea, but if we were to push this into the enterprise later, in two to three years, here's where they're gonna push back? And here's what we're gonna need? Or is there something where you're just, you're just, you know, are you just kind of putting that on to on hold right now?


Antti Karjalainen  30:50

Yeah, well, obviously, we have a long roadmap ahead of us. And we have a ton of features that we want to get done before we even think about those enterprise focus features. And, and, you know, the strategy that we have on the market is really bottom up. And, and, and it's much easier to come bottom up and go than to the top then called top down and try to, you know, start with enterprise selling, and then then, you know, selling eventually, the SMEs. So we really just want to focus on creating a great RPA product for developers in the beginning and, and push back on any any like, super enterprise feature. Because we don't, we don't really have the Salesforce to be able to push that product in.


Brent Sanders  31:39

Right? You see this more and more in venture backed companies that are embracing, you know, an open source project. And, you know, they're really doing their sort of bottom up sales through GitHub, right there. They're making their project useful. I hate to use the, you know, sell pickaxes analogy, but they have great pickaxes, that, you know, somebody who's building a service or building a business can easily get into and then, you know, they can find themselves in position to monetize much easier than, as you mentioned, going top down and mandating that everybody uses this specific type of pick x. It's a seems to be a newer model that I like, I mean, it feels natural to me to go with what sort of the demand, you know, what is demanded are actually useful. But to Mark's point, I mean, everybody has, you know, seen or heard of a situation where you bring a tool in and your boss says, Well, this is unsecure, or we can't use this. And we can't use that for these, you know, given reasons. So it's not without kind of thinking about, but obviously, if you just kind of keep your head down and deliver the value, you hope that Yeah, people will identify that.


Antti Karjalainen  32:52

Yeah, it's all about delivering the value. In the end, if we would like to please all of our users, we would offer the orchestrator on prem. That's, that's kind of the Yeah, most often heard request as well, why don't you have the orchestrator on prem? So there's so many good reasons why we are always on the cloud. And that also ties into our business model, which is more of a consumption based model than many the traditional selling licenses to robots. And, and, you know, when you ask more or less a smaller consultant or services company who wants to offer automation to your clients, as a service, kind of robotics as a service model, you'll, you'll come to Robocorp and you'll understand that, okay, I can start with zero initial investment, build the PLC, to my, to my client, prove the value, and then sell my service on top of that, and, and eventually grow the business that way, which is beneficial both for my client and for my company. And I actually can recreate a business on top of that. So that kind of model I think it has a ton of merit. So being cloud first enables us to focus on a consumption based business model, which is better for the bottom end of the market. And then also allows us to offer an actual API product on top of the cloud that you can use to integrate robots into your existing services. So I think that has so many benefits to it. If you just keep our heads down, focus on the core value that we provide, we can eventually get to the larger companies.


Brent Sanders  34:39

Yeah, that's, that's a great model that I think, you know, there's just a big gap, right? There's a big gap for these mid sized companies. And I'm wondering what your thoughts are longer term, if we kind of pull this out to a five year, maybe 10 year period do we think I mean, on premise right now is a hard red line for any of the sort of what we call like a fortune 500. And like, they don't want their data out there, they don't want there's a million reasons why. And I always use this analogy back to where, you know, the technology of web software was maybe 20 years ago. And back then it might have been a similar type of argument, do you? Do you think that's gonna go away? Or, like the, the idea that the on premise implementation is needed? Because, you know, and I'm kind of jumping around in a couple things, but I go back to like, get lab is a great example of like, they really nailed this on prem implementation, and you see companies that otherwise don't look like they would, you know, use a product like that end up taking advantage of it and installing it on their local networks. Yeah, I'm curious if you think that's gonna go away? Or do you think this just kind of part of the big enterprise, and they're just going to kind of do their thing,


Antti Karjalainen  35:58

I honestly believe that those on prem demands are gonna fade away, eventually, this really, so little benefit and to be had in actually hosting all your stuff on prem, yourself compared to using a public cloud service. And obviously, in our model, we allowed those workers that we have to be run on inside your private cloud on your own laptop, for that matter. So that's kind of a nod to the fact that enterprises do have a lot of stuff, and they will continue to have a lot of stuff on prem. We are certainly not hosting the robot workers. purely on the cloud. Yeah, but to your question, like, I think like you can see all already government's even going to the cloud, so that that kind of moment is next five years, I wouldn't actually bet on a company that focuses on, on purely on prem software.


Mark Percival  36:58

Yeah, there's an interesting hybrid that's happening now, right? where companies are actually going to the cloud in the sense that, you know, companies like a large no Chevron, or one of these large companies that signs with somebody like AWS or Azure, and so on prem for them as is weirdly in the cloud, but on their cloud, right. Yeah. So it's a really strange market right. Now, when we say on prem anyways.


Antti Karjalainen  37:19

Yeah, yeah, with on prem my I call it also private clouds. So. So that's that kind of covers on premise. Well, you know, few of companies have their own hardware that they actually own or run, right. Anyway, nowadays.


Mark Percival  37:36

So looking at I mean, I guess my I want to go back to just, it's interesting, I think when you're running this remote company, one of the companies that I have looked at, you know, that does this kind of thing really well. And Brent brought them up as Git lab, right? They've been very transparent. And the way they run their organization, they have a handbook out, they have all these things. Do you kind of see yourself modeling yourself after something like that? Or do you see yourself kind of taking a different tack on this? Because obviously, there's a lot of different ways to run an open source software company, right? There's this is not new, to some extent, we go back all the way to the Red Hat's of the world. But obviously, Github kind of the gift lab is kind of the newest incarnate of that. How do you kind of see running Robocorp that way?


Antti Karjalainen  38:20

Yeah. Well, I mean, I've certainly read some material from Gitlab and also automatic. They have a good Yeah, they're great. I listened to a recent podcast where the CEO of automatic spoke about distributed organizations and he actually used the term distributed organization instead of remote because that remote kind of implies that you have a central and then remote location but distributed this is I think it's a good good word to use in this setting. Yeah, I I kind of envy these CEOs who have the time to write those long form memos about right how they'll get the shares looks like this because I'm basically working across multiple time zones and there's so much time to do like so much things to do that you know, barely get any feel like don't get anything done. I think this is kind of the stage of the company Seed Company going to series a hectic times but yeah, we are looking at other companies who are doing this fully distributed and taking cues here and they're just like trying to sample out the best best that works for us. You know, distributed has traditionally worked nicely with this open source like automatic but they do also have their own proprietary offering or that they're kind of paid offering. So I don't see that that open source would be inherently something that that is just like, perfect for for distributed, but but it certainly has some some benefits to it like we can can outsource if you if you want to use that word, some of our projects to the community and also like sponsor community projects in, in a sense, where it makes sense. And so that's, that's great aspect and, and trying to keep all the control to yourself is is is really not the way to go in this kind of business model, we want to engage the community engaged the open source side of things and, and being more open, easy to approach and all these things is really going to be important for us, you kind of see with that model of communication where we encourage everyone to join our slack and, and just chat chat their way where they can access everyone inside our company.


Brent Sanders  40:44

Yeah, I get a lot of value out of that. I think there's something to be said for that transparency of I mean, it's weird, because it's like, it shouldn't say it's weird in a bad way. It's weird, in a good way, in the sense of like, you can actually get responses if you have questions, obviously, for developers, it's going to be a lot of like, Is there a way to do this, you know, asking the community but also, you know, reaching out to the company is refreshing. You know, going back to I and again, these some of these questions are less so automation related. But going back to, you know, as you mentioned, there's so many things going on, you're moving from your seed to your a, you have metrics that obviously you want to hit, you need to hit, you know, things that you want to see happening. There's not enough hours in the day. But also, you know, we're we're not in offices, we're at home, are there any things that you know, and not to say that we our listener base is full of CEOs that are in similar situations, but I find myself in situations similar, where there's just not enough hours in the day, I mean, any any tips that you have for our listeners on you know, how to how to manage multiple workloads, multiple things, especially in this sort of where everyone's working from home to kind of going through as we were talking about before the podcast started the zoom fatigue? Yeah, any things that you're doing to make your days better, more productive or easier?


Antti Karjalainen  42:08

I might be a bad person to answer that question. But I think I think from my perspective, it's about building a great team. Ultimately, and I focus, currently a lot in hiring. So building a great team, eventually will take some of that workload off where you can trust people, whether they're different time zones or working, can remotely you can trust that you communicate asynchronously, and things get done that's an important thing for me, obviously. Otherwise, you know, I'm, like I said, I'm bad person to answer that question. Because I tend to find time, you know, a meeting in the, in the Bay Area and a meeting in, in India fit in the same day for me, because I'm, I'm in the EU, so, so that that kind of spans my workday, over a long, long, long number of hours. And then to work from morning to late evening. But you know, whenever you can, like, go for a run, if you if you can do that I was actually yesterday I had I had to do an interview and, and I I wanted to squeeze in a run before I had an hour there in between my meetings and went for a run and actually went on a trail run and got a bit lost in a forested area. And I almost didn't make it back to the interview, but they don't want to give a bad impression to the candidate so I was running a bit harder. And coming to meetings very people accept that if you know you have that kind of flexibility, it blows your mind. You can come from Iran with three minutes to spare and company meeting.


Mark Percival  43:56

If they can smell you.


Antti Karjalainen  43:59

Yeah, that's, that's, that's perfect. I mean, that's something that you haven't had before. So kind of use that to your benefit. And also, I encourage companies to to work flexible hours in a way where people can you know, for instance, for me, if I have a lot of meetings in the evenings to to the states I do my sort of errands and like mow my lawn and some things like that in the morning time. So I might wake up, spend three hours with my kids, then then go to work. So try to find sort of your own time wherever that's available. Don't be limited to 95.


Mark Percival  44:39

In the US Now we could spend a lot of time with our kids. Yeah, they're not doing anything else.


Antti Karjalainen  44:45

Yeah, yeah, that's a different thing. You know, if you're on a zoom call and your kids on their iPads that's that's that's really yeah. unfortunate situation for many people, and I think you know, at the companies need to be kind of flexible that way as well for people with families.


Brent Sanders  45:06

Yeah. Yeah, it's a particularly difficult time. I mean, you just don't feel like, you know, there's enough hours in the day. But I think the thing I go back to my only takeaway is just like, let each day, you know, just be enough. And we'll fight the battle the next day, because it always feels like, you know, there's something else you should be doing. And, you know, the timer gets cut short and got meetings and all this other stuff. So it's good. Good insight is good feedback.


Antti Karjalainen  45:30

Yeah, yeah. Also, I tend to block my calendar nowadays, more, more than I used to do. So just yeah, throw in a few hours at blocked, so nobody can sleep in zoom meeting there.


Brent Sanders  45:42

Do you spend time? I mean, I'm assuming that you don't, but maybe you do. I mean, are you spending time writing code these days? I mean, what do you obviously you're kind of you have a finger in every single aspect of what's going on? But how technical are you? Are you spending your time? Or I should say, are you spending your time on technical stuff still?


Antti Karjalainen  45:58

Ah, so you know, I try to use our products. So, I do some like RPA stuff, usually for demos and these kind of things. And also try to advise our users whenever possible. So I might hop on a call with a developer who has a problem to solve and help him solve it. But I really do write like production code. I'm certainly not like writing on a cloud infrastructure or anything like that. But yeah, I'm a developer, as my background, so I can read code reviews and do things like that. But oftentimes, my time is better spent elsewhere. Have we have better people than I in coding.


Mark Percival  46:44

Yes. It's I mean, Brent, and I obviously have had an experience with this brought me from the venture side, I think a lot of CEOs come from it and don't understand how much of a job it is just kind of focusing on the next fundraise, right? You can kind of pulled away from the company, because you're now steering a lot more than just the product development. Now. It's just now it's also the roadmap and the financial roadmap. And you have a full time job.


Antti Karjalainen  47:05

Yeah, yeah, fundraising is full time job when you're doing it. I tend to avoid talking with too much investors between fundraising right now, I think is pretty actually crazy out there that there's a lot of investors on the mobile, really active investor. So I think I've been chatting with people. And it seems that nobody's investing in consumer technology. And everyone is wanting to become an enterprise software investor. So there's a lot of active investors out there. And it would be actually a great time to raise funding. But we don't simply need funding. So I'm, I have this template answering my email that I use whenever an investor approaches us.


Brent Sanders  47:50

Yeah, I mean, I guess that's a good question. I mean, you, you how far do you feel like you are for you have to start. And you know, you don't have to get into the balance sheet of the company. But obviously, between raises, there's sort of a suspended state where it's like, okay, we're gonna do all the things that was on our roadmap, and when do you start thinking about fundraising? Again? I mean, is it related to features metrics, you know, critical mass of the product? Like, how are you thinking about that?


Antti Karjalainen  48:19

Yeah, so we have three goals, three main goals right now. And it's about, you know, finding, finding what makes our developers active and delighted, essentially, like, what makes what makes the developers who use our product, you know, happy with them and working on that. So we want to get active developers on the using our platform, that's one thing, obviously, growing an engaged community is another thing so people engaging with with our product with, you know, content on on the hub. And also, also people actually, like actively running robots on the cloud metrics, that pretty basic things like getting people engaged and then proving our revenue model with consumption based pricing is something that we want to do. But these are, I think we can crack those this year. And sometime next year, we look into funding but we are pretty well capitalized at the moment then. And we can simply focus on building an excellent product.


Brent Sanders  49:29

That's excellent. I'm just wondering, is there anything you know, before we wrap up, is there anything that you wanted to kind of impart to our listeners and talk about give any updates? We haven't covered?


Antti Karjalainen  49:42

So many things happening with the products? I think we are releasing weekly, weekly new things. Right now, the focus is on kind of more boring things like billing and these kind of features that need to be there. So we're building something basic infrastructure. But I hope that towards Q4, this year, we will start releasing kind of developer facing exciting features more and more, extending our API on the cloud, you know, coming out with the VS code extension, console of the new features are in the Jupiter side. So there should be an inspector UI to help with managing locators. And these kind of things out soon. But still a lot of things happening. And, and I think if you're, if you're into this kind of things, just follow. Follow us on the developers like that's the best, best way to keep in touch. And, and also if you have any, any sort of questions or you know, you want to start using Robocorp in your business, just reach out to us, and we're happy to help.


Mark Percival  50:55

Great, and this is a free opportunity. Are you guys hiring, you can promote that as well.


Antti Karjalainen  51:00

Yeah, we are hiring senior software engineers in the EU. That's remote work. So, so European Union area, mostly for engineering. And then we are actually filling some marketing positions in the US and the business development position as well. So anyone interested in joining Robocorp on these positions, just reach out.


Brent Sanders  51:25

Right, yeah, reach out. Well, Antti thank you so much for joining us.


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