How to grow at record-breaking pace – Omnipresent’s story

Posted:
22 March, 2022
Two men smiling

At the start of 2020, remote working was predicted to grow. Then, overnight it became the new normal. 

As COVID-19 turned all of our lives upside down, offices across the world shut, the daily commute was cancelled and kitchen tables became desks. Many of us learned that our jobs could be done as well, if not better, at home. A new acceptance of flexible working was widely adopted, and plenty of workplaces began to question whether being physically present – or even in the same city, or country – was an essential quality in an employee.

At the same time, Matthew Wilson and Guenther Einsinger were coming to the end of Entrepreneur First London’s 13th cohort. 

Together, they’d build Omnipresent, a tool to make it easy for companies to hire, pay and support global teams. Suddenly, their tool solved a hair-on-fire problem for employers globally.

Now, they’ve announced that they have raised $120M in Series B funding – just over two years after being founded.

Here, we speak with Matthew Wilson, Co-founder and Co-CEO of Omnipresent, to explore their story, and how the team sprinted to create the fastest growing company in Entrepreneur First’s history.

A bet on the future

In October 2019, Matthew and Guenther met at Entrepreneur First London. Matthew brought in experience as an entrepreneur and technologist, having already ran an enterprise software business in the pharmaceutical industry. Guenther, meanwhile, had operational expertise in over 40 countries worldwide, both from his time in the Austrian Special Forces and leading an international business. Together, they trialed a co-founding partnership, and fast-found they clicked.

“You go from being almost strangers to forming a close-knit team incredibly quickly,” recalls Matthew. “I don’t think there’s another environment where you can move so fast from an individual, to launching a company with your co-founder.”

When ideating for their company, they acknowledged the growing trend in remote working, and based their idea on a challenge to the status quo. “We asked ourselves, with the technology we now have available, why should geography be a barrier to hiring the best person for the job?” 

“Well, currently, that brings with it a whole set of challenges. How do you manage the administration? How do you understand how to employ people in all these different countries – each with their own legal and financial regulations? How do you add in the technology layer to make hiring easy?”

Matthew and Guenther at Entrepreneur First
Matthew and Guenther at Entrepreneur First

Combining Guenther’s working knowledge of the international workforce, and Matthew’s expertise in running enterprise software, they made the right team to answer these questions.

“We realised we had an opportunity to solve these problems, and make global teams work,” says Matthew.

The pair began building this solution, which became Omnipresent. Their approach is to act as the legal employer on behalf of its clients in every country. This is then supported by a tech-enabled platform to onboard new hires compliantly worldwide, providing local contracts, tax contributions and competitive benefits including health insurance and pensions. 

In essence, they allow companies to employ anyone, anywhere, at any time.

As part of their journey, Omnipresent successfully pitched for their pre-seed investment from EF. “By March 2020, we were in the process of ‘graduating’ from EF”, says Matt. “We were taking on our first customers and getting ready to raise our Seed round. Then, suddenly, we all went into the first lockdown.”

A breakneck acceleration

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the world into a mass experiment in remote working, Omnipresent’s thesis had come true at a rate no-one could have predicted.

“For the next month, the whole world was in shock. We didn’t know what was going on, how long it was going to last, what the financial repercussions would be. We were just trying to get ourselves in front of customers and pitch to investors, but no-one knew what was going to happen to the world of venture capital. 

“COVID, though, ended up accelerating not only venture capital, but the problem we were solving.

“We’d made a bet on remote working. We thought this behavioural change was going to kick in, but that it would take 5-10 years, and be a very progressive change. Now, the whole world was doing it – and our business had the opportunity to catalyse it, and bring out a silver lining in what was really a horribly uncertain time for many people and companies.”

However, the certain acceleration of Omnipresent didn’t come without challenges. “We now had to run – we didn’t have 5-10 years to build the company, to find product market fit. People needed it now. We had to get something good to market very, very quickly. 

“One of the perks for us in the sudden growth of remote working was for how we functioned as a team. When we went out to raise, I was doing eight or nine pitches a day – pre-Zoom, I’d never have been able to get in front of that many investors. We raised the Seed in a month. That gave us some runway.”

Omnipresent's management team
Omnipresent's management team

The first team the company built was their sales team, ready to launch their product in October 2020. By December, they’d had to tell the team to stop selling. 

“It was a great problem to have: we just couldn’t deal with the amount of customers that wanted the product. It was intense, required a huge amount of work, and we needed to make sure what we delivered for our customers was excellent. 

“What we do is high stakes and the worst thing we could do for our customers was let someone down. We had to hire very, very fast.”

Another unexpected perk of COVID was that there were a lot of strong hires available in the summer of 2020. Matthew and Guenther consciously overhired.

“Onboarding was stressful, and hiring doesn’t solve your problems overnight. What it does do is solve the problems you’re going to be facing in a few months – which makes it a huge priority. Once we were there the release was huge.”

A record-setting growth

The team kept up their speed and in January 2021, announced that they closed their $14.5M Series A.

This made them the fastest ever company from EF to Series A, in under eight months.

“We just didn’t see any sign of things slowing down. In the year that followed, we grew our own team 10X and our revenue by 25X. 

“We grew to be able to serve clients in 160 countries in that time.

“We can now see the benefits of Omnipresent working in action. Companies are reaching a global pool of candidates, and are unrestricted in finding the best person for the job. Candidates aren’t restricted by geography in their career opportunities.”

Just over a year later, Omnipresent are announcing their $120M Series B – another EF record.

“It’s mindblowing to see what Matt and Guenther have achieved in just two years”, reflected Matt Clifford, CEO of Entrepreneur First. “In our ten years running Entrepreneur First, we’ve never seen a company grow so quickly. EF exists to allow extraordinary people to meet and start companies together that otherwise might not get built. Matt and Guenther have done just that and we’re proud to be a small part of it.”

Reflecting Omnipresent’s mission, the round is participated in by a global team of investors from across Europe, Asia and America, and is led by Kinnevik and Tencent. The investment will be used to build out Omnipresent’s new products and services, customer growth and geographic expansion. 

It will also be used to continue to grow their team who, true to form, also work around the world and are fully remote. 

“We’re our own customers too – we believe in a global workforce and are as passionate as we were on Day 1 that geography should be no barrier to employment. While COVID-19 has accelerated this trend, it’s also exposed the fact that we don’t need to work the way we used to,” says Matthew.

“We want to continue to be at the heart of this trend – the catalyst and the reason why companies are able to seamlessly and efficiently bring the best personnel to their team.”

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