Announcing My Most Recent #Legaltech Startup Investment
This week I am going to be announcing two new investments in legal startups.
Investing in #legaltech startups is more than a hobby for us. Having skin in the game is core to Killer Whale Strategies. Investing improves our research which improves our content which, in turn, improves our deal flow. It is a virtuous circle. I hope that, as someone who lives and breathes #legaltech, that my investments send a signal to the rest of the industry. Plus, I have personally benefitted from the growth of #legaltech so it feels right to support promising entrepreneurs.
So, today I'm excited to announce my investment in 10BE5, a London based #legaltech company founded by Cleary attorneys John Kwan and Mohamed Taha (pictured above) that is making it delightful for attorneys to do capital markets work. Any attorney who has ever worked in capital markets knows the amount of repetitive, mind numbing work that goes into drafting disclosures whether it is the financial trends in the MD&A, the risk factors or the circle-up process. 10BE5 removes tedious, anxiety-inducing work for capital markets attorneys. You can use their software OR you can outsource the work to their team and get it back completed. 10BE5 is already working with the biggest firms in the world, and I am betting that in-house departments will begin using it themselves. I have long suspected that someone would design a product for capital markets attorneys. But, I also knew the amount of legal expertise required to build this product, so it had to be the right founders. I am confident betting on John and Mohamed.
Here are just three reasons I'm in LOVE with this company:
By Capital Markets Lawyers for Capital Markets Lawyers: In an essay I published on LegalEvolution, I explained why many successful legaltech startups started out as law firms and service providers. LegalMation, another company I invested in, grew out of a forty plus attorney litigation firm. 10BE5 has grown out of Cleary Gottlieb (the firm is an investor as well), and Mohamed has continued to work at Cleary as a Capital Markets attorney, using 10BE5 of course. This creative arrangement provides the company with a direct feedback loop that feels like an unfair strategic advantage. 10BE5 is also working with Nordic firm Vinge as a design partner Cleary-Backed 10BE5 to Co-Develop Products With Vinge – Artificial Lawyer. The reason attorneys love using N2N, 10BE5’s flagship product, is because it was designed by people who deeply understand how lawyers have worked until now. More firms should incentivize these kinds of ventures from their associates. Good for Cleary for seeing the opportunity and executing.
Tech’s New KPI is Talent Retention: Technology is not, on its own, going to fix lawyer burnout or solve talent retention problems for law firms. But that doesn't mean that tech can't do its own small part. Now, just so it’s clear, I’m under no misimpressions that lawyers are going to work at one firm over the other just because of the firm's tech stack. But, it's a really bad look when new hires arrive and discover that their new firm is doing work the "old way." What really swayed me is how much the lawyers who use N2N love it and wouldn't dream of going back. They have already had instances where new hires at law firms insisted that their new employer purchase the product. This is THE litmus test for judging whether a product has a positive impact on talent retention and 10BE5 has it in spades.
The Founders: In order to survive, many founders will fake it till they make it and unfortunately that can become a habit. Not John and Mohamed. Their honesty and integrity has been self-evident since I met them last year and I ultimately invested with them because I couldn’t get them out of my head. These are the kind of people we actually need as lawyers and designers of #legaltech and I couldn’t be more excited to back them.
Stay tuned, our announcement of investment #2 will be out Thursday.