MDR LAB Calls For Autumn 2021 Incubator Applications

Mishcon de Reya’s pioneering MDR LAB is calling for applications to its Autumn 2021 legal tech incubator programme. The firm said that it hopes to do this primarily in the office.

The incubator is now part of three channels inside MDR LAB, which also includes a stream for very early tech company ideation, as well as a programme to help vendors sell more effectively into the firm. The incubator now also takes place twice a year and is known as ‘Improve’ – because, well, it’s there to help you to improve your early stage business.

MDR LAB was one of the first legal tech incubators and has now become something of ‘a university for startups’ that sets them up for future growth.

Dan Sinclair, Head of MDR LAB, told Artificial Lawyer: ‘The programme will run from October and since we launched we’ve worked with 19 companies.

‘We analysed those companies (which includes DraftWise, Thirdfort, TimebyPing, Everchron and Orbital Witness, to name a few) and found that after joining MDR LAB they saw more investment and increasing company values.’

To date, MDR LAB has worked with 19 legal tech start-ups, who have cumulatively raised over £35m of funding and are collectively valued at over £130m. Mishcon has adopted eight of these products on a commercial license for use across the business, with some alumnus signing multiyear deals in less than three months of completing the programme. 

In addition, Mishcon de Reya has invested in three of the companies so far:   

  • TimebyPing: a time automation company, which automates lawyers’ timesheets, ensuring more billable time is captured.  
  • Everchron: a litigation case management company, which streamlines case preparation. 
  • Thirdfort: a digital onboarding app, which reduces ID fraud and speeds up client onboarding. Mishcon has invested in Thirdfort a number of times since 2018 who have now grown headcount to 65 and have around 600 clients.

Sinclair (pictured above) added that it was possible those companies would have been a success in any case, and perhaps MDR LAB had just been good at attracting successful companies. However, from this site’s perspective and based on feedback from the market, taking part in a prestigious incubator like this certainly helps on a variety of levels.

It reassures early investors; it encourages other law firms and inhouse teams to hold pilots; and the publicity helps with marketing and brand recognition. And that’s not even mentioning the huge opportunity to get direct one-to-one feedback from lawyers at Mishcon that can lead to product improvements and new features being created.

‘We are happy with the model for Improve and we are excited about this new cohort. It’s a community within a community,’ Sinclair added.

He also pointed to DraftWise, a member of the last cohort, which the firm has now taken on across its transactional teams. He added that while they were in MDR LAB, feedback led to the creation of several new features that has really seen an expansion of what the product can offer.

‘They iterated at such a pace that they started to look like a new company,’ Sinclair added.

He also highlighted that they really are looking forward to doing this inside the office. For companies that cannot travel they can still do it remotely. But, in-office incubation is the plan.

This makes a lot of sense. If you are coming into the office to write emails then that can be a bit unnecessary. But, if you are coming into the office to connect and share with a group of fellow innovators and lawyers who want to give you very hands-on and detailed product feedback, then being together in the office is the best thing you can do. So kudos to them for encouraging this. Product development is something that really needs the benefits of in-person connectivity.

How to apply

The application window for the Autumn programme will close on 27th August. The programme will start in October and run until January 2022.

Apply here: Improve Autumn 2021 application form  

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