HighQ Co-Founder Joins Contract Mill €1m Funding

No-code document automation platform Contract Mill has bagged around €1m ($1.2m) in new funding, with the participation of the co-founder of HighQ, Veenay Shah.

The Finnish startup, which was recently chosen by California-based Wilson Sonsini as its tech partner for the firm’s summer associate programme, will use the funding to further grow its operations in the UK and Europe, and expand globally.

Swiss investment company Actium AG, together with multiple international investors from the UK and Sweden, took part in this funding round.

The personal investment from Veenay Shah, a co-founder of HighQ, which was acquired by Thomson Reuters, is especially noteworthy given that he has plenty of experience in growing legal tech businesses.

Commenting on his involvement, he said: ‘It takes a lot of grit and vision to create a successful legal technology company and I think Contract Mill has those both, in addition to an extraordinarily strong team that also happens to be led by a female founder – (Kaisa Kromhof – see interview below). I want to help them with my experience and support to take Contract Mill to the next level and beyond.’

Contract Mill has a major focus on being easy to use and having a visually engaging interface for users. It launched in 2016 and has offices in Helsinki and London. Its customers include a growing number of large international law firms and companies including Bird & Bird, Solita, TietoEvry and AdvisMe.

Till Spillman, Partner and Chairman of Actium AG, added: ‘As corporate and transaction lawyers, we experience the increasing need to streamline the legal documentation processes on a daily basis. To achieve such a big transformation, a product must be not only technologically advanced but also easy and intuitive to use. We believe Contract Mill checks both those boxes.’

Artificial Lawyer interviewed CEO and co-founder, Kaisa Kromhof, about the funding, what it means to her, and the market for doc automation.

– You’ve worked really hard to get to this stage, what does the funding mean to you?

Yes, we have come a long way from the first MVP to re-building the product to the 2.0 version and now being able to push the gas pedal for real.

This funding means that we will be able to invest more into sales and marketing as well, areas that so far were less resourced. At the same time, this funding proves that we are onto something with our unique product, and our investors trust that we have the capability to grow the company and become a go-to partner in document automation globally.

– There are a number of doc automation companies now, what is Contract Mill’s strategy for breaking through and taking market share?

The document automation space has indeed many players at the moment, but with a closer look, it is not that simple.

Either solutions are easy to use, but cannot handle complex tasks, or they can handle complexity, but are not easy to use and implement.

We are the only one who has been able to combine the best of both worlds with our unique visual no-code automation interface. The market is also looking for alternatives to the ever more expensive incumbent products that are often left underused and which don’t resonate with the end-users.

There is also clearly a need for a focused document automation solution with APIs and direct integrations, as implementation of end-to-end CLM solutions is risky, (as a former GC I know how difficult it is to successfully implement systems that require big changes to existing processes and ways of working).

Therefore our strategy is two fold: With our easy to use, yet powerful automation, we want to win customers who are for the first time implementing automation and who need a premium product that they can also use with their existing systems.

At the same time, with customers who already have an incumbent product in use, we are happy to be chosen as a complementary solution to help them to expand automation to more documents internally as well as to client facing services. Thereafter it is also possible to replace the existing solution, if the customer so wants, in a time schedule that they are comfortable with.

– Who would be an ideal Contract Mill client?

We serve customers from large global companies to sole practitioners, and this is something that is very close to our hearts: accessibility has been the cornerstone of our development, not only in the design, but also scalable features and our business model. Therefore we welcome everyone as our customers.

But, perhaps I can answer in another way – clients who benefit the most from Contract Mill are organisations (in-house legal, law firms, consultancy or governmental authorities), who need more than simple ‘fill in the details’ automation and who are not willing to take on/continue with the high cost of automation of incumbent products.

We also have several customers who use our technology, white labelled of course, to serve their own clients in innovative, value creating and scalable ways, either via websites, collaboration portals, or direct self-serve.

– How big do you think the potential market is now for contract automation globally, do you think things have changed in the last few years?

This is a good question – let me answer the latter part first: I have seen a significant change in the market since the establishment of the company.

Five years ago everything was all about blockchain and AI, and document automation was not ‘cool’ at all. When telling people about our revolutionary approach to automation, the comment often was along the lines that ‘hasn’t automation been solved already a long time ago?’.

But the last one or two years, the tone has changed: automation has become one of the growth areas and customers have realised the advantages of having something that gives immediate results, savings and scalability to the business.

And, about the market potential, it is really large for us, because Contract Mill can be used for any documents (not only legal), anywhere in the world, on any language, by any organisation (in-house as well as law firms). The problem of slow manual document generation is global, but so is our solution too.

Thanks Kaisa, and good luck with growing the business!