Della, an Anglo-French NLP doc analysis startup, has bagged $2.5m in Seed funding just as it seems to have found its raison d’être. Although it can still handle large doc review projects, the company is now emphasising its single contract analysis capability, which can include pre-signature review.
The company started to take shape in 2018 and officially launched in 2020, which at the time looked like it was going into battle against several well-known incumbents in this segment that were famous for transactional review.
CEO Christophe Frèrebeau told Artificial Lawyer: ‘We have learned a lot [since we launched]. We found the business model of Kira and Luminance does not work for us.’
‘We can help not just on transactions, but also with single documents. So we can help the client end-to-end,’ he added.
He noted that the company can handle scenarios where a lawyer is reviewing large and complex documents at a regular frequency, whether that is a ‘lease, a tender, a loan document, or a franchise agreement, perhaps 50 to hundreds of pages long’ and where the lawyer may be looking for multiple key data points, sometimes as many as 150 in a single contract.
So it looks like they have now found their niche. As noted, they can still do bulk review if that’s what you want, but as Frèrebeau explained: ‘This took us a while. We do not want to compete versus Kira, nor do want we to be a CLM tool. It has been about finding the right way to sell Della.’
He also noted that they are working with both law firms and corporates. Clients include Mishcon de Reya, Eversheds Sutherland, and Fidal, which is the largest law firm in France, and several large multinationals. They have also maintained a strong multi-lingual capability.
But what is Della? The company argues that it’s not just another NLP company in the legal world, in fact its website states that it is a ‘next generation’ legal AI tool.
This is how they explain things: ‘Central to Della’s approach is the fact that its AI understands how real people speak, taking into account how syntax and grammar of a query interact. This means that lawyers can easily find the information they are looking for, even if it’s hidden amongst hundreds of legal documents. Della then provides an output, whether this might be a custom report or a summary, which is as close in format to what a lawyer might produce for their clients.
‘Della’s AI is built on a ‘massively pre-trained language model’, which enables transfer learning. The AI continuously learns and improves from any interactions with the platform. This creates a network effect and reduces the cost and time needed to solve complex problems with AI. In addition, it takes minimal time for a new user to start using Della, which massively reduces time-to-value.’
In terms of the money, new investor Pragmatech Ventures joined Thibault Poutrel, Frederic Montagnon and other international investors, who have supported Della since its launch. The cash will be partly spent on international expansion, including the US market.
Is this a big deal? Artificial Lawyer has been following Della’s evolution for a while and it’s been interesting to see how they have navigated a market that already has several well-known players.
The company also explained that as they’ve increased the focus on offering single document review they have seen a big increase in client interest and revenue.
What this move shows is the difference between ‘technology’ and ‘product’. I.e. NLP may be the core tech of your software offering, but what is the actual product you are marketing? What are you seeking to put into the hands of the customer? Where does it fit in among their many needs? Answering those questions can often be a complex challenge.
In any case, it looks like Della is now on firm ground and has bagged some very useful funding to power them to the next stage of growth.