Startup Corner: Avvoka in Focus

Describing itself colloquially as Google Docs for contracts, Avvoka is trying to move corporates away from the traditional drafting process in Microsoft Word and onto its SaaS contract creation platform, where its document assembly tools create first drafts using decision tree software.

How would you describe your company to a friend?

Avvoka is a contract creation, negotiation and analytics tool – think Google Docs, but for contracts. It allows businesses to stop trading Word drafts via email, to reach agreement, and e-signature, faster. The platform also has a range of analytics tools allowing users to monitor negotiation patterns and spot clause variations across legal documents.

And if you had to describe it to a techy?

Avvoka is a SaaS platform allowing users to create contract templates in the cloud via an in-browser editor. Our document assembly tools allow users to rapidly create a first draft of the contract by using decision trees, which can be used to drop certain clauses into the contract. Once assembled, users can invite their counterparties to negotiate directly on the contract using our custom collaboration tools. Once agreement is reached, the document can be e-signed and stored on our platform. As the entire contracting process takes place on Avvoka, we are able to run sophisticated real-time reports on things like clause variation and deal-team performance or display contract negotiation heatmaps and historic trends.

When were you founded?

Avvoka was founded in 2015, and taken to market in early 2016.

By who?

Avvoka was founded by ex-city solicitors David Howorth and Eliot Benzecrit. Whilst working at their respective law firms, they saw the potential to bring a new technology-led approach to the contracting and diligence process.

Who are your key managers/senior execs?

The founders are responsible for the day-to-day management, and are aided by experienced advisors in the private equity and asset finance industries.

What is your growth strategy?

We sell direct to large corporates and high-growth start-ups. We are starting to explore strategic partnerships with a number of complementary software companies within our target verticals – we are always happy to hear from anyone that feels there is a benefit in collaborating!

Have you received investment?

Yes, two rounds of funding to date. First seed round raised $216.94k. The second round is undisclosed.

Who are your target clients?

We target companies that have a B2B focus, generally with 100 + employees, that contract on their own standard terms. At present we cover businesses that operate in the real estate, finance, supply chain and pharmaceutical industries.

Have there been any key changes in direction since you were founded?

We started by focusing on allowing customers to automate relatively standardised, non-negotiated, business contracts. Since early 2017, there has been a demand for our system to accommodate contracts that require heavier negotiation between parties with more equal bargaining power.

What are the key challenges you face in your market?

Our biggest challenge is convincing people to move away from their comfort zone of contracting on Microsoft Word and then trading drafts (in track changes) via email. As products like Google Docs expand their market share in the future, this should present less of an issue.

What are the most exciting developments you’ve seen in your market in the past year to 18 months?

The adoption of artificial intelligence by law firms to aid contract due diligence processes.

Tell us something that people don’t already know about the company?

Avvoka is a play on the French word for ‘lawyer’ (avocat).