Why we invested in Omnipresent

For a CEO, the decision to build a distributed team is not one to be taken lightly. 

At one of our regular portfolio CEO dinners last year, the conversation quickly descended into a heated debate about the pros and cons of building remote teams.

On one side of the room, defenders of remote work enthused about the chance to hire the best talent globally while creating a super efficient organisation. On the other side, several CEOs pointed out the many challenges around hiring, on-boarding and managing people at a distance. 

I watched the debate unfold that evening with sympathy for both sides, having experienced this all first hand as CEO of HelixNano – my team spread across San Francisco, London, Boston and Antwerp. 

This extraordinary year has forced the issue. Indeed 2020 has created perhaps the most cliched VC investment theme of all –  so I’ll spare you the “remote work is the future”, “five years of behaviour change in 5 weeks”, etc. 

The fact is, post lockdown, companies are increasingly building distributed teams.

But there are real practical challenges that face companies building a distributed workforce. The most frustrating can be the legal and HR challenges of employing people in jurisdictions where the company itself does not have a legal presence.

Omnipresent offers “global employment-as-a-service” through their tech platform to make it fast and easy to employ remote talent anywhere in the world. 

If this service had existed when I was a CEO, I would have bitten their hand off. By taking care of payroll, benefits, compliance, taxes, and admin, Omnipresent’s platform allows managers to focus on growing their business.

Interestingly, it can take managers some time to realise the importance of a service like Omnipresent. One of our portfolio founders put it well:

“This is a big problem – we had a lot of issues when we had directly employed remotes, we moved back to contracting due to all the endless little things of trying to stay compliant in different jurisdictions. If I was going back again I would love a service like this for remote workers as you would not believe how hard it is.”

As an investor, I’m laser focussed on the quality of the founders. This is particularly important for a business like Omnipresent, which demands flawless execution and an obsession with delighting the user. Both Matt and Guenther are clearly built this way. They bring a wealth of experience as serial founders who have operated in super high stakes environments (from the special forces to pharmaceutical manufacturing). 

We are delighted to welcome Omnipresent to the Episode1 portfolio and support their mission to enable distributed work. 

Carina Namih

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