Startup Corner: Summize Ltd

Founded in 2018, Summize assists legal teams and SMEs throughout the contract lifecycle. The platform enables users to understand, manage, and review their contracts, and in a short space of time has evolved from summarising the key points of a contract to a more holistic approach. Here we ask the Summize team to tell us more about the Manchester-based company and its strategy.

How would you describe Summize to a friend?Summize is a lightweight assistant for the contract lifecycle. It’s not about replacing the work of a lawyer, but rather enabling lawyers and other users to work more efficiently; ultimately, saving them both time and money. Our key message has simplicity at its core.

And to a techy?Summize originated as a tool to quickly and intelligently summarise contracts, given that this was the issue faced by our CEO & Founder, Tom Dunlop. However, we’ve since evolved to cover even more of the contract lifecycle, with capabilities for both pre and post signature contracts. 

Pre-signature contracts benefit from our Microsoft Word Add-In, which allows the user to quickly understand and navigate through key clauses. Key features include identification of defined terms throughout the contract and tight integration into our web platform for live summaries and access to playbooks.  

Post-signature makes use of our web app, which provides a lightweight and easy-to-use management system, alongside quick and powerful contract summaries. 

We use a unique combination of extensive legal experience and the latest machine learning techniques to review and summarise contracts. Our features also include but are not limited to: Contract Insights (allows the user to ask questions against the contract repository), customisable exports, and shareable links. Architecturally, our portal exists as a Cloud native SAAS platform which can be used from any location. 

All of our designs and features are developed within the context of our core business philosophy, i.e., that Legal Tech should be easy to use, slot easily into existing processes and provide instant value. We aim to be the glue between Legal and Tech.

When were you founded? 2018, but we didn’t fully launch the platform to market with our new team until 2020.

By who?Tom Dunlop, CEO, who is a former lawyer and Legal Director, and David Smith, CDO, who has over 25 years’ experience within the IT sector.

Who are your key managers/senior execs?Aside from our co-founders, we have Richard Somerfield, CTO; Daniel Williams, Revenue Director; and Zoe Peterkin, Head of Marketing.  Additional board members include our Chairman, Charles Sharland; Gail Hazley, CFO; and Jeremy Thompson, Board Advisor.

What is your growth strategy?We have a phased growth strategy, which will initially include an increased headcount within sales in 2021, while continuing to grow our UK client base. Our next phase will concentrate on geographical expansion, and beyond that, we will focus on hyper-growth. All of these phases will run alongside product development and expansion, led by client feedback. 

We now run a Customer Advisory Council, which ensures that our roadmap is always aligned with our users’ needs.

Have you received investment?Yes, we have received investment from NPIF (Northern Powerhouse Initiative Fund) Maven, Private Investors, and from the Government Future Fund.

Who are your target clients?Our target clients encompass law firms, in-house legal teams and SMEs.  

Have there been any key changes in direction since you were founded?We began with a really lightweight and easy-to-use product but found ourselves pitching for volume and due diligence work. This inevitably led to comparisons with large enterprise software, when in reality, we focus on many other use cases and often different departments. 

Ultimately, our product was designed to be easy to implement, easy to use and easy to buy. This led to a change in direction for our sales strategy. For example, we introduced a trial of our platform, allowing users to sign up for free via our website and get a sense of how our product worked for themselves.

What are the key challenges in your market?Legal tech is still a relatively new market, which means that it can be viewed as fragmented. This, in turn, can make engagement a challenge. 

The contact automation space is generally viewed as saturated, so, once again, it can be difficult to get your voice heard in a crowded market. 

Tell us something people don’t already know about the company?Our founder, Tom, played badminton at national and international level, and so has brought a lot of learning from the world of competitive sports to the business. Our thinking and vision are therefore founded in the concept of Kai Zen – a Japanese term meaning “change for the better” or “continuous improvement”. 

We encourage ongoing, incremental change across every aspect of the business all of the time, rather than setting lofty goals to be achieved and later forgotten. It’s a simple, but powerful concept which pulls together everything we stand for at Summize.