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Insights & Thoughts – Apr 21, 2022

BLOG: The new “remote” world and our investment into Unique

Author: Joe Neale, Partner, Technology

At VI Partners, we have been proactively looking for a company that solves a big problem in the new “remote” world we live in. 

When my family and I relocated from the UK to Switzerland in December 2020, the way that we communicate in a business environment had shifted in earnest over the past year. At my VC role prior to VI Partners, the entrepreneurs I met with and the boards I interacted with were no longer in person, like in the first decade of my investment career. Zoom links were shared with founders, Team group chats were set around the firm, this seemed like a strange new world. 

In the year following, this new existence became the norm. For those of us who work online, Covid meant that travel time was cut dramatically, so more meetings could be held in one day. Entrepreneurs from further away became closer and it became normal to built a rapport online, rather than having to always catch the last train home.  

By 2022, we saw Microsoft Teams become a visibly better and smoother product, with MAU rising from 75m in April 2020 to 145m in April 2021 and now over 270m in Q1 2022. Zoom has scaled to almost 505m business customers, with the annual meeting minutes rising to over 3.3 trillion. These tools scaled with this new way of working. 

This new way of interacting has led to challenges, especially to sales people. Whether we like it or not, sales is a relationship business. Whether it is a bank trying to close deals with new customers, SaaS businesses onboarding enterprise clients or VCs raising money (yes we also have to do that!), successful sales are what keep us all in the game. These things require a lot of work, the right kind of interaction and deep understanding of who you are speaking to. 

Unique, our latest investment, allows sales organisations to optimise those conversations and sensitivities in the remote reality we find ourselves in. The technology that CEO Manuel Grenacher (who VI Partners had previously backed when he was running Mila) allows sales people to be coached in real time in multiple languages and have the entire call transcribed, while they are talking to a potential customer. The technology then creates a shared virtual “deal room” environment, where both buyer and seller can continue to interact. They can view a summary of the discussion they had, share documents and keep track of the needs of both sides.  

Sales Managers can also keep an eye on the performance from the dashboard, assisting sales people as required. Unique’s product integrates into leading CRM systems, allowing knowledge acquired to be stored alongside other entries. 

We are excited to invest in Unique’s Seed Extension round alongside our friends at Pictet, acting on behalf of their clients, Banque Éric Sturdza and a host of value adding Angels.

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