Digital contract management platform Contractbook has raised €3.5m from a syndicate led by Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI Fund, together with Nordic VC-fund byFounders and a group of key angel investors. The investment is significant not just because of Google’s participation in a legal tech funding round – we understand this is a first – but because Gradient invests in and connects startups with Google’s resources, innovation and technical leadership in AI. This is the first time a Google-backed VC has invested in Denmark.

Founded in 2015, Contractbook first launched their SaaS-based contract management platform to allow SMEs to create, sign, and store legal documents digitally and in one system. The company has since expanded its platform to include a client portal for legal professionals – Suits – and a contract drafter that generates contracts based on customer questionnaires. On some parts of the Continent, its biggest competitor is DocuSign and in others that are further along the tech curve, it is Thomson Reuters Contract Express.

The platform also allows users to review, negotiate and collaborate on documents, as well as organise and analyse their signed contracts in order to increase their overview and track their performance.

Existing clients include Bird & Bird Denmark, Aumento, DreistStorgaard, STORM, Baker Tilly Denmark and more recently KPMG Denmark.

Speaking to Legal IT Insider, Mikkel Boris, press contact for Contractbook and editor of LegalTechWeekly, said: “The first important thing about this investment is how they look at our solution and what they see – they see the market will converge towards more holistic products: broader systems with broader functionality. And then what’s significant is the resource that they will make available to us – they will give us access to senior Google employees as consultants and will provide us with expertise to develop.”

Google has three different venture funds and Gradient is the newest. Boris said: “They reached out to us. They were looking at going into contact management and saw an opportunity in us and our product.”

byFounders, meanwhile, has in-depth knowledge of the Nordic region and European market, where Contractbook is aiming to expand its client portfolio.

The plan for the funding is to increase the depth and flexibility of the product. Boris said: “We’ll go towards covering the full lifecycle of the contract, adding more features and flexibility to the product.”

He added: “The traditional Google approach is that having the best product will make you the market leader, not going crazy on sales.”

Contractbook will continue to focus on SMEs, where it is big in Scandinavia. However, Boris said: “As we get bigger we’ll be more interested in a solution for larger enterprises.”

Adoption among SMEs is one of the reason that local law firms using the platform and Boris added: “They can see their clients are using it and asking them why they are printing a contract and sending it over when they can use the platform.”

In the past year, the legal tech market has seen investment leap to $1.2 billion, a 718% increase since the year prior. In 2018, the contract management market segment alone was estimated to be worth $1.1 billion.

Eric Lagier, partner at byFounders, said in a statement: “Contractbook’s technologically advanced offering makes them poised to disrupt multiple industries that are still characterized by archaic document handling processes. Actively building bridges between the Nordics and the US, byFounders are happy to facilitate connections between globally ambitious Nordic founders and prominent Silicon Valley VCs like Gradient. We’re excited to set them up for international success and support their further growth.”