2 Feb 2022
For most entrepreneurs, being at the helm of a business considered highly innovative, carrying out international software projects, and winning competitive bids against the ‘big four’ consulting firms, would be strong indicators of success.
However, for Adela Wiener, it was the point at which she realised that an established process automation solutions business wasn’t the right future path and the moment she decided to embark on a full-scale transformation.
‘Courage over comfort’ is the ethos that has driven Aurachain CEO, Adela Wiener, through her career and one that epitomises her bold decision to take her company in a new direction three years ago.
“The company was doing well as a services business,” Adela reflects. “We were implementing bespoke complex process automation solutions for enterprises across different countries. We had a good client base and were carrying out major contracts, winning competitive bids over larger players in the space, based on our ability to implement solutions in just half the time they could.”
Aurachain, in its previous iteration, was implementing client solutions using several different Business Process Management (BPM) systems but had already begun to develop its own IP in the form of accelerators to shortcut its implementation cycles for large banking clients around the world.
“Three years ago, I stopped believing that the intelligence of software developers should be used to build hard-coded solutions for our clients. The more custom work, the bigger the cost, the bigger the dependency on the vendor, and the bigger the frustration on both sides – vendor and client,” Adela explains. “We saw that the future was increasingly going to be about empowering organisations to build their own digital process apps and less about delivering these for them. This is why we made the strategic decision to move into the low-code application platform (LCAP) market.”
“Low-code is, first of all, a mindset. One that enables organisations to create digital apps without primarily investing in hard coding. It removes the friction between business and IT, bringing developers and business analysts together to collaborate and therefore allowing them to achieve quick time to value.”
Low code is a trend and opportunity that has also been acknowledged by Gartner, who heralded 2021 as the ‘year of low-code,’ and predict that, by 2025, 75 percent of new applications developed by enterprises will use low-code or no-code technologies.
Adela and her business partners began to explore the possibility of packaging up their existing IP and knowledge into a low-code process automation product to generate enterprise grade applications.
The Aurachain transformation journey, spanning the last three and a half years, has seen Adela drive the business through seed and Series A funding, creating a new product on a new tech stack, changing the organisational structure and part of the management team – while navigating the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Taking the plunge
“The transition from a solutions company to a SaaS product company was a complex one, requiring a whole new approach to structure, KPIs, acquiring and retaining clients, implementing and scaling.” explains Adela. “I knew building a good team around me would be key to success. I sought advice from people I hold in high regard from the tech industry and venture capital world, with experience in various facets of a SaaS business. It was important to me to get a range of different perspectives and expertise.”
Securing funding was the next step – and crucial to sustain product development. This is where Aurachain’s strong reputation in the enterprise process automation space was beneficial, enabling the team to quickly secure $25m of series A funding from private investors.
The biggest challenge
The key ingredients to a great product, Adela believes, is a foundational engine that works perfectly, scales, and is easy to expand with new features, either through innovation or client-driven inputs. The product development process was both timely and costly, involving the integration of all utility components into a single platform, that today is made of six modules.
However, Adela’s biggest challenge came with transitioning the company from a software services mindset to a product mindset. “Mindset changes are related to people and some people aren’t able to change their mindset very easily, if at all, especially when there’s emotion involved. I had to take difficult decisions to change the team around me and let some people go. As a CEO, I have a bigger responsibility to the company and the wider team to take the right course.”
Personnel changes were also in the customer success team to reflect the new vision – to be completely driven by delivering value to clients or creating a competitive advantage for the business. As a result, at Aurachain no decision is made solely on a product level unless is results in tangible business value for clients.
Since the initial product launch at the end of 2019, the team has won clients in Europe, South Africa and the US. 2021 has seen Aurachain increase its revenue tenfold on the previous year.
Covid challenges and opportunities
The launch of the product also coincided with the outbreak of Covid-19, which presented huge challenges to businesses of all shapes and sizes – but for start-ups especially. Aurachain had just launched its UK office in London and had begun recruiting a team there, but when the first lockdown was implemented, the team had to change its strategy.
“As a CEO you have to be ready for everything – you need to be clear-minded and not only react quickly, but also anticipate as much as you can. The pandemic made everything hard to predict, but despite this, it was one of our best years yet.”
Lockdown gave Aurachain the opportunity to validate its market position. Businesses needed to evolve quickly and were looking for faster, lower-cost and more agile ways of doing things. As teams, goals and processes had to change quickly, so too did their technology stack and critical business applications. Against a backdrop of global disruption and uncertainty, Aurachain increasingly gained client traction.
It was during this time that Aurachain began to work on a project close to Adela’s heart: a national system built in her native country, Romania, for a job retention scheme to provide financial support to employees through the pandemic. At the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020, Romanian furlough scheme requests were being handled manually and taking up to 10 days to approve, placing immense pressure on government staff. As claims continued to increase, the government had to react quickly to find a better way to process the volumes of claims rapidly and securely.
Aurachain’s low-code platform was used to develop Romania’s National Job Retention Scheme Portal (aici.gov.ro). The app was built and ready to use in under two weeks and improved the work of around 1,000 public sector workers. At its peak, the app handled 48,685 applications per day and a significant number of applications per second. As a result, furlough application acknowledgement was cut to just 1.5 days on average, with many applications processed even quicker.
Despite her involvement in building a transformative system to help her home country deal with a global crisis, Adela still maintains that the two biggest achievements to date are the product and her team, with the resilience of the founding team being a key driver to getting them where they are today.
A foot in the past and a foot in the future
“I am a big believer that we wouldn’t have managed to be where we are today, as a company, product, and team, if we hadn’t experienced our previous journey as a custom solution business. We learned so much from each market, each client and all the mistakes we’ve made,” Adela reflects.
“As a product company, we know what we want to be: a leader in the low-code space, for enterprise grade apps, by offering a product that represents the best balance between the highest level of configurability for app creators and the highest degree of extensibility for enterprise clients.
“I can honestly say that the last three years were the most challenging years of entrepreneurial my life, and they were equally difficult for my partners and our extended team. But the reward made it all worth it.”