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VMblog Expert Interview: Bardeen, the AI-Native Workflow Automation Startup Aiming for Zapier


Knowledge users, which pretty much describes almost all of us today, easily spend more than a quarter of our time copy pasting data and doing repetitive tasks. It's an enormous market opportunity that many vendors have tried to conquer. According to the Business Research Company, the global business process automation market size is projected to grow from $12.4 billion in 2022 to $14.02 billion in 2023, an eye-watering compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.1%. But mostly Fortune 500-size enterprises have the skills and people trained properly to use current tools. Clever people with technical chops like engineers can turn to complex solutions like Zapier, a fast-growing private startup reported to be valued at more than $5 billion.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is supposed to help us change all this. Enter AI startup and its co-founder and CEO Pascal Weinberger. Weinberger and his Bardeen team recently released its first product suite after a beta period that saw the number of daily average users leap from 0 to more than 120,000 in months. VMblog spoke to Weinberger about Bardeen (which raised its most recent funding round of $15.3 million in June last year) and how it plans to compete against legacy vendors and unicorn startups like Zapier.

VMblog:  What is your "secret sauce" in this red-hot market now that AI is overwhelming almost every industry?

Pascal Weinberger:  Because these tools have been so hard to use - think sales automation tools two decades ago before Salesforce massively disrupted that historic shelfware market. It begs the question of what value do people get from tools so complex and user unfriendly that no one actually wants to use them? You get single percentile market adoption it turns out. We change that fundamentally. Our solution was designed AI-first and we focused maniacally on the UX so people WANT to use us. Because we make it easy and accessible, people finally realize the payoff of workplace automation. Suddenly they have a lot more free time to focus on more valuable work! Meanwhile the processes that they automated are probably better than when they were done manually. And it keeps getting better. Since our AI is embedded in the processes they improve through each iteration or use.

VMblog:  Surely the incumbent workplace automation vendors are also racing to embrace AI?

Weinberger:  I would humbly suggest that if you are bolting AI onto legacy solutions then your users will quickly figure that out and likely go elsewhere. Given the unprecedented adoption and rapid innovation cycles in AI today, what company wants to compete with AI-first companies? We designed our solution AI first with simple point and click functionality and hundreds of off-the-shelf already-made templates to get you riding the AI automation wave right away. Not to pick on a popular company like Zapier, a powerful and smart competitor who entered this market about ten years ago and may be the most formidable incumbent, but using their tool requires a lot of manual work and some technical knowledge to correctly set up their "Zaps." Their users who have migrated to Bardeen tell us about issues around execution errors caused by incorrect settings, missing fields, or issues with the APIs of the apps being used. And the eternal trap for anyone working with varied data sources: Zapier relies on consistent formatting of data between the different apps it integrates with. Inconsistent or incorrect formatting can cause errors, lost data or data not transferred correctly. And sometimes those very same apps may only offer limited capabilities or restrict what data is shared via their APIs. Now the poor user has to find workarounds or switch from the apps they prefer using to get their Zaps to run properly. That's putting the cart before the horse.

VMblog:  So in the end what makes you better than the other workplace automation solutions?

Weinberger:  As I said above, while AI is embedded throughout our solution to keep making you continuously smarter in your workflows and the UX is unmatched for user friendliness and hence adoption, we're just smoking fast! We run in your browser. That has all kinds of critical security, performance and no IP-leakage mitigation impacts. All of them beneficial to our users. It's also a lot cheaper to run so our pricing is very flexible compared to our competitors today. A future version will be offered in the cloud for those who need that capability. And if you are a knowledge working running most of your apps and services on what I jokingly call the "hipster stack," then Bardeen is a dream for you. Let's say you have a call tomorrow scheduled on your Google Calendar but you don't know the person yet. You can automate that research workflow for this call and all future calls with anyone not in your contacts list on Google. You simply point and click a sequence like this:

1. Find meeting participant's key information before all Google Calendar events;

2. Copy Crunchbase company data to Coda;

3. Get all Pipedrive contacts from an email thread;

4. Get social profiles of all participants in a meeting.

That probably just saved at least 15 minutes for one Zoom conference call, right? Guess what? You just saved 15 minutes on all future Zoom conference calls that fit this profile too. Our web site has many example use cases you can explore at your leisure here: . We're digging workplace automation out of its ditch to enable automating automations via generative AI (more on this here:


Published Friday, May 19, 2023 7:38 AM by David Marshall
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