Careers at Workiva
Workiva’s mission is to enable organizations to collect, link, report, and analyze business data with control and accountability.
Martin Vanderploeg, Jeff Trom, and Matthew Rizai were co-founders of Engineering Animation, a 3D computer animation firm based in Ames, Iowa. They ultimately sold the business to EDS/UGS PLM, and in 2008 founded Webfilings, an enterprise software company. That year they received $3 million in venture capital funding to get the new entity off the ground.
The company worked on a software-as-a-service platform that enabled clients to automate their SEC filings (financial and compliance reports) through a proprietary system involving document tagging and linking. The platform also helped users file directly with the SEC and various federal and state agencies using XBRL (Extensible Business Reporting Language), a business mark-up language.
The product was innovative in that it combined information from multiple types of content formats, including presentation documents, spreadsheets, and e-mails, into a single report. It would eventually come to be known as Wdesk. In 2009 the beta version of Wdesk was rolled out. It was tested by Winnebago Industries and received a positive reception.
In 2010 the solution was officially made publicly available. In 2012, based on its success, the company was able to raise $30.2 million in a Series C round led by Bluestem Capital. In 2014 the company changed its name to Workiva, opened a new campus in Iowa State University Research Park, and completed an initial public offering, becoming listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Business model of Workiva
Workiva has a mass market business model, with no significant differentiation between customer segments. The company targets its offerings at organizations of all industries and sizes.
Workiva offers three primary value propositions: convenience, performance, and brand/status.
The company offers convenience by making life simpler for customers. Its Wdesk platform can be deployed within a matter of days and is easily configured for individual workers or entire teams. The platform is also flexible, meaning customers can make changes to adjust their business processes in real time. Its data linking feature ensures all changes are instantly updated in all linked instances.
The company demonstrates strong performance through tangible results. Specific positive outcomes for clients include the following:
- Winnebago Industries used Workiva’s solutions to streamline its SEC report filing process, resulting in at least 30 hours of time savings over word processing
- Discovery Communications used Workiva’s solutions to deploy a single document data model, enabling its team to work in one document at one time and avoid version control issues
- Noodles & Company used Workiva’s solutions to consolidate data collection and obtain control over SEC and SOX reporting, reducing the need for two full-time positions for the effort
- Pepper Snapple Group used Workiva’s solutions to support its strategic planning initiatives, resulting in time-savings on report development and administrative tasks
- A large auto parts retailer used Workiva’s solutions to simplify SOX compliance, resulting in a 238% three-year ROI and savings of $411,532 due to more efficient management
The company has established a strong brand due to its success. It generated $179 million in revenues in 2016, representing 23% annual revenue growth. It employs over 1,200 people operating out of offices in 16 cities worldwide. It serves over 2,700 organizations, including more than 70% of the Fortune 500. Specific clients include Advance Auto Parts, Brown-Forman, Gigamon, HSN, and Lifetime Fitness. It customer satisfaction score is 95% and its revenue retention rate is 96%. Lastly, it has won many honors, including the following:
- Recognition as a Leader in the 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Financial Corporate Performance Management
- Recognition as one of the 25 Highest-Rated Public Cloud Computing Companies To Work For by Forbes Magazine
- Ranking of #129 on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500
- Recognition as one of the top 20 software productivity solutions providers by CIO Review
- The Business Intelligence Group's 2017 BIG Innovation Award
Workiva’s main channel is its direct sales team. It also sells its products and services through resellers. The company promotes its offerings through its website, social media pages, search engine marketing, e-mail marketing, content marketing, direct mail, webinars, and participation in workshops and conferences. It also hosts an annual user conference called The Exchange Community.
Workiva’s customer relationship is primarily of a personal assistance nature. The company assists customers in the following ways:
- Support Services – The company assigns customers a dedicated Customer Success Manager who provides support on a 24x7 basis. The manager guides teams through the preparation of documents and reports. Support is provided through phone, web-based conferencing, and digital messaging.
- Training Services – The company provides online and classroom XBRL training on the use of its solutions. It also enables customers to earn continuing professional education credits (up to 25).
- Consulting Services – The company maintains a consulting team that works with clients on their core reporting challenges, in areas ranging from day-to-day financial reporting to audit processes.
Despite this orientation, there is a self-service component. The company’s website features a “Resources Library” section that includes useful tools such as white papers, eBooks, case studies, infographics, slideshows, webinars, and videos. There is also a community element in the form of a forum called Wdesk Community where clients can ask questions and share knowledge.
Workiva’s business model entails designing and developing its products and delivering related services to customers.
Workiva maintains the following types of partnerships:
- Alliance Partners – Firms that introduce Workiva’s solutions to existing and prospective clients
- Integrated Practice Partners – Firms that refer prospective customers to Workiva and promote it as part of their service and implementation offerings
- Technology Partners – Firms that align their complementary solutions with those of Workiva (through data and platform connections) in order to extend their ecosystems
- Reseller Partners – Firms that sell Workiva’s solutions to their clients and others
Specific partners include Vaco, OpenGov, Frazier & Deeter, Business Wire, and Armanino. Partners receive benefits such as training/certification, sales/marketing support, co-branded marketing opportunities, and competitive bids on fixed-fee projects.
Workiva’s main resources are its human resources, who include the engineering employees that design and develop its solutions, the sales employees that promote them, the training/consulting employees that provide instruction/advisory services, and the customer service personnel that provide support. It places a high priority on intellectual property, with 24 issued and 19 pending patents in the United States as of December 2016.
Lastly, as a startup it has relied heavily on funding from investors, raising $55.6 million as of October 2014.
Workiva has a value-driven structure, aiming to provide a premium proposition through significant personal service and frequent service enhancements. Its biggest cost driver is sales/marketing, a fixed cost.
Other major drivers are cost of revenues, a variable expense, and research/development and administration costs, both fixed expenses.
Workiva has two revenue streams:
- Subscription and support revenues
- Professional services revenues
info: Matthew earned a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University and an MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He previously served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Engineering Animation.
info: Marty earned a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. He previously served as Co-Founder, Executive Vice President, and Chief Technology Officer of Engineering Animation.
info: Jeff earned a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University. He previously served as Co-Founder, Vice President, and Chief Technology Officer of Engineering Animation.
info: Stuart earned an MBA at Harvard Business School. He previously served as a Managing Director at Colonnade Advisors and as a Managing Director in the Investment Banking Department of JP Morgan.
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