Union Square Ventures has noticed Juro, a British startup that uses machine learning and user-centric design to contract what Typeform does for online forms. The New York-based fund is leading a $ 5 million Series A investment announced this morning.
Existing investors Point Nine Capital also participate in Serie A, Taavet Hinrikus (Co-founder of TransferWise) and Paul Forster (co-founder of Indeed). The round brings Juro's total to $ 8 million to date, including a $ 2 million starting amount that we covered in 2018.
According to Juro, London is becoming a kind of hub for legal technology CEO and co-founder Richard Mabey – who names "strong legal services industry" and "strong engineering talent" as the reason for the explanation.
It was also a "small draw" for Union Square Ventures – to do what Juro spends on the start-up as a “rare” investment from the USA to Europe in legal technologies in the city.
“Brand customers in the USA certainly helped. Ultimately, however, they're looking for product-oriented companies with strong cross-functional teams wherever they find them, ”he adds.
Juro's business focuses on simplifying the tedious negotiation and creation of contracts by making contract creation more interactive and traceable. It also takes care of e-signing and joins the contract management services. Machine learning technologies are used to support functions such as the automatic marking of contracts and the recognition of unusual languages.
All of this adds up to a "platform for contract collaboration", as Juros Marketing puts it. Think of it like Google Docs, but with embedded legal features. There is also support for visual embellishments such as animated GIFs to spice up sales letters and attract new employees.
"Our editor is based on a data model that converts every contract into actionable data," says Mabey. “Juro contracts look like contracts, smell like contracts, but are ultimately written in code. And this code structures the data in them. This makes ten times the life of a contract manager easier than using an unstructured format like Word / pdf. "
"Our main competitor is still MS Word," he adds. “Our challenge is to get lawyers (and other contract users) out of Word, which is an important task. Fortunately, Word was never designed for legal workflows, so we can add a lot of value with our bespoke editor. "
Mabey said that part of Juro's Series-A fund is being used to improve his machine learning / data science skills. The overall plan is to double the product, including tripling the size of the product team.
"That means we hire more designers, data scientists and engineers to build our engineering team in the Baltic States," he says. "There is so much more to look forward to, especially on the ML / data side, and funding gives us the opportunity to do so." We will also build our trading team (marketing, sales, CS) in London to serve the EU market and continue to expand to the US where we already have some local customers. "
The startup, founded in 2016, still doesn't break out of customer numbers, but states that it has processed over 50,000 contracts for its customers so far, though it should be noted that these contracts have been agreed in over 50 countries. ("Everywhere from Estonia via Japan to Kazakhstan", as Mabey puts it.)
In terms of juro users, it is still mainly “medium-sized technology companies”. Mabey leads marketplaces (Deliveroo), SaaS (Envoy) and Fintechs (Luno), especially companies that “process high contract volumes” ”.
Another industry that it has recently expanded into is the media.
“In the past few years, the giants of the electronic signature have grown massively, and some are gradually intervening in the contract life cycle. Again, it's more about files (mostly PDFs) than dynamic, browser-based documentation, ”he argues. "Regarding new lawyers, I'm particularly excited about Kira Systems, which is working to unselect PDF contracts after signing."
As part of Series A, Union Square Ventures partner John Buttrick joins the Juro Board of Directors.
Buttrick explained in a reason: “We are looking for founders with products that can change an industry. Even though contract management may not be new, it is Juro's transformative vision. There is no better proof of the usability of the product than the fact that we have negotiated and completed the financing round. We are happy to support Juro's team in realizing their vision. "