London-based legaltech startup Apperio this week secured a $10m (£7.5m) series A funding round led by Revolut-backer Draper Esprit.
Apperio gives companies visibility of legal spend, allowing them to track both billed and unbilled hours, in ‘real-time’, run analytics and monitor law firm performance. Founder and CEO Nicholas d’Adhemar tells us about the strategy and plans behind the funding.
Why do you need the funding and why now?
To ensure a solid product and the highest security standards, the business had been largely tech driven to this point. Now is the time to invest in bringing the platform to a wider audience by growing our commercial and customer success functions. Our Series A funding will enable us to achieve this at an accelerated pace.
What will you use the money towards specifically?
We will be growing all parts of the business. There is a particular focus on the commercial and customer success functions to support our growing customer base and to promote international expansion. Equally we are strengthening our technical team with multiple hires to reinforce existing and build new features.We have already brought in several new hires and have outgrown our current office. We are moving into a larger office in Holborn, in the heart of London’s legal district next week.
Can we expect new products or is it a case of building out the existing platform?
The short answer is both! We will continue to improve the existing functionality and build new features alongside, all driven by customer engagement.
In addition, in our mission to make the in-house lawyers simple, we will work more closely with other legal technology providers so that we can accommodate as many configurations natively as possible. As LegalTech grows, we are committed to a collaborative relationship with partners, recognising that our clients have an increasingly diverse set of choices in how they buy and deploy technology in their operations.
Finally, as we capture ever more data we will begin to explore how machine learning can yield new classes of business intelligence for both law firm and in-house lawyer.
Have there been any changes to the underlying tech?
Over the past 12 months we have implemented a new analytics database that is more than 10 times faster to retrieve data than our original system. Security is of paramount importance to us, and as such we have continued to invest in all aspects of this area.
What changes can we expect from Apperio in the next 12 to 18 months?
As mentioned above we are moving into a new London Headquarters next week. The team will double in the next six months, with hires in Sales, Customer Success, Tech and elsewhere.
In terms of the product we will be iterating on existing functionality and adding new features to make it simpler for General Counsel to understand and control their legal spend. Our roadmap is very much defined by our customers and what they are suggesting/requesting.
In the US, corporations and their law firms have the same problems with transparency and the same outdated technical infrastructure. We already have a significant beachhead in the US with 21 of the top 40 law firms and connected. This will be an area of focus for us going forward but London will remain our HQ and the home for our European operation.
What is the long term goal? Eg be acquired by a big player or continue to grow and do your own acquiring?
Our priority is on delivering value to our clients and growing the business. That is our focus and any external interest is incidental to that.
What are the most interesting trends you’ve seen in terms of billing practices?
The most interesting thing we’ve identified is the number of days it takes for a law firm to receive payment for a particular matter. From the data we’ve examined, it takes 145 days (median time) from the law firm actually carrying out the legal work to receiving payment. 95 of those days is the law firm waiting to invoice.
One of the many advantages of Apperio removing that surprise invoice. We help to speed up this process up so that both parties are always informed of costs along the way and conflict is removed from the billing process.
Are your clients now almost all corporate legal teams?
Yes, the majority of our clients are corporate legal teams. We do work with some law firms (e.g. Dentons) to support broader pro-active sharing with their clients.
Who else do you see doing well in your space?
There doesn’t appear to be another provider in the space doing exactly what we are doing. We are often compared to ebilling but Apperio is very much a different tool, solving a different problem. The primary difference is that Apperio provides a real-time view of legal spend (billed and unbilled) whereas ebilling displays what is being billed but not the unbilled WIP. Additionally, Apperio’s setup time and design are materially different from the status quo.