Legaltech startup Lawpath has raised $4.4 million in an oversubscribed funding round, as it strengthens its position in the Aussie market, and strives to democratise access to legal advice for small and medium-sized businesses.
The round was led by Adcock Private Equity, with LegalZoom, Pollenizer Investments, Fort Street Advisors and Macdoch ventures also contributing.
Nick Abrahams, head of innovation at Norton Rose Fulbright, also contributed as a private investor. All of the backers are existing investors.
Lawpath provides templates for legal documents, as well a marketplace connecting legal experts with those in need of advice. The startup raised $1.8 million in July last year and, speaking to StartupSmart at the time, founder and chief Dom Woolrych stressed the importance of getting the right contacts on board.
Today, the founder maintains the value of having good people in your corner.
For example, since Lawpath’s last raise, existing investor LegalZoom has been able to help the startup with intellectual property, operational support, and even its Google ads strategy.
“Having someone like them on your team has really helped a lot,” Woolrych says.
“It’s been a game changer, to be honest. It’s really accelerated our growth.”
And, it’s something of a validation that all of the investors in this round are re-investing, says the founder.
“Everyone is very happy with how it’s going,” he says.
Revenues have been doubling, year-over-year, and the startup has just passed the milestone of 100,000 regular users, Woolrych says, while 2.2 million Aussies are accessing LawPath for legal help every year.
A household name
This funding will partly be used to fuel expansion overseas, with Asia as the initial first target market.
“It’s a huge market … but there’s really nothing in the SME legal space,” explains Woolrych.
But it will also be used to grow LawPath’s user base in Australia, particularly among those SMEs that are perhaps not so tech-savvy.
For the past two years, Woolrych and the LawPath team has been very focused on the product. Indeed, they recently launched a new platform that includes features such as document automation and electronic signature capabilities.
“The next two years is really about getting out there and becoming a household name,” he says,
Currently, about 1% of Australian small and medium-sized businesses have used LawPath, he says. But many of those are startups that are comfortable working with new tech solutions.
“We want to get to the next stage,” he says.
“How do we get to mums and dads and bricks-and-mortar businesses all over Australia?”
The goal, at the moment, is to reach 10% of all Australian SMEs by 2022, he says.
There’s a need for this kind of service in that space, Woolrych argues. While there’s been a lot of work done to make legal support more accessible, “the numbers are still really grim”, he says.
Some 87% of small businesses don’t have access to legal services, he says. Some don’t know how to find a lawyer, and many feel they can’t afford it.
But, Woolrych says, business owners are growing accustomed to using digital business services, such as accounting provider Xero.
“Why shouldn’t they also do their legals online, through a legal platform?” he asks.
“The only reason they don’t is that there’s nothing out there for them.”
When asked what he’s learnt on his founder journey, Woolrych rolls out some tried-and-tested advice.
Everyone talks about the importance of “getting to know your investors and future investors as soon as possible”, he says.
“It’s so true.”
But, he also recommends founders keep close tabs on their hiring pipeline, and “having candidates ready to go, even if you’re not hiring”.
This is especially true when LawPath has been hiring legal professionals (Woolrych admits he hasn’t quite hacked the dev talent gap yet).
In fact, the founder has set up a Trello board to keep tabs on all the lawyers who reach out to him to enquire about jobs.
“We found that the best hires are always the ones that come internally through referrals or people who reach out actively to us,” he explains.
“There are not too many innovative type legal businesses,” he notes.
So, there are a lot of legal types who are interested, and want to get involved.
“That’s made the hiring a little bit easier.”