Licenses, patents, contracts, clauses, compliance, regulations—these are woes of entrepreneurs who would ideally rather focus on solving a problem and getting a better product to the market. Fees of lawyers and legal support can also often be out of budget for startup founders, while on the other hand take up precious time of lawyers which could be better utilised.
Clara is solving the pain points associated with startup law across the globe through a unique hybrid model that seamlessly blends the efficiency of a SaaS platform with the human expertise of a law firm.
Founded in 2018 by Patrick Rogers, Lee McMahon, Hannah McKinlay Ahmed Arif, Arthur Guest, and Kathryn Burke—Clara's founding team has more than a decade of legal experience. In fact, prior to founding Clara, Patrick and Lee founded Support Legal, a law firm that has been and continues to support entrepreneurs by offering a disruptive model of fixed prices as compared to the traditional billable hours.
This gives them a unique advantage of knowing the ecosystem, allowing them to address the needs of founders better.
Backed by TechStars Dubai, Clara graduated from the programme in May 2019 and recently announced the close of their seed round, which raised $2 million. As per the statement, "the $2,000,000 seed fund will be used to build out Clara’s tech, design and content creation teams and to support international expansion across the key international jurisdictions through which venture capital is deployed globally."
By bridging the gap between legal services and technology, Clara is putting forth a very exciting model that is bound to make setting up a company and getting legal advice a whole lot easier for startup founders, SME businessmen and entrepreneurs. Interestingly, they have established the startup in London, with offices in Dubai to cater to both markets.
SME 10X delves deeper into the story behind their establishment and their plans for the future. We speak to Patrick Rogers, the co-founder and CEO of Clara.
1. Tell us about Clara. What's the story behind its establishment?
Clara is a product born from the thousands of conversations we've held with founders over the years as startup lawyers. We saw ourselves performing the same repetitive tasks for startups and giving the same guidance and advice to founders about the same legal concepts.
We knew we could automate these tasks and build software to educate our founders. If we could do that, we could focus our lawyer time on more complex work — the type of work that startups happily pay lawyers to do.
2. How exactly does Clara work?
Clara automates the creation of cap tables and due diligence summaries and builds data rooms to present a startup's entire legal structure in a single visual.
With Clara, legal due-diligence performed by investors and their lawyers takes a fraction of the time it currently takes. For investors, Clara will provide a robust portfolio management tool, offering data and analytics on their investments in real-time.
3. Is Clara's platform fully functional at the moment?
We are in private beta right now and running pilot programs with global accelerators 500 Startups and TechStars. Our public launch will be October 16.
4. Could you tell us about the pricing? It seems to be the highlight of your startup.
Clara Platform will be based on a subscription model for startups, as well as for investors to utilise its portfolio management functions.
The platform can automate many administrative, and repetitive tasks, like simple agreements, or board resolutions. It can also educate founders, something which startup lawyers have traditionally done.
These uses alone will save founders thousands in legal fees while de-risking their investors.
5. Clara was part of TechStars' most recent cohort in Dubai. How was that experience and how did it help?
TechStars was an incredible experience. It was rocket fuel for Clara, and I’m thankful we’ve kept that momentum going since the program ended. Their global network of accelerators and mentors has been tremendous for our growth. One of the many reasons we joined TechStars was because of its legal team. They see Clara as a solution for several significant challenges, namely founder education and tracking their 1000+ portfolio companies across the globe.
6. Why did you choose London as your headquarters when the founders are based in Dubai?
As a company addressing a market need in both emerged and emerging markets, London is a natural fit. London is the global centre for legal services, as well as the leading European centre of technology and venture capital. Most recently, London has become the hub for legal tech.
Many of our key channel partners (VCs, accelerators, incubators, university-sponsored startup programs) have London offices. So far, discussions have been positive. Many have indicated their desire to explore collaborations with us.
7. Could you tell us about Clara's future plans to grow within the markets?
For the foreseeable future, we're focusing on startups with holding companies in a select group of common law jurisdictions, or startups looking to establish themselves there. Examples include the UK, the US, Abu Dhabi Global Market, Singapore, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands.
8. Are you looking at expanding to Europe or further in the Middle East?
Clara serves a global market of scalable, venture-backed startups and their stakeholders and service providers. We’re in discussions around the world, including Canada, Norway, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.
Our global outlook allows us to provide the most comprehensive offering of its type in the world in terms of supporting the startup ecosystem.
With the growing number of startups being founded in the UAE as well as the broader region, legal services are indeed key to protecting founders as well as startups from a host of challenges. Clara's model has received positive feedback and the backing of global accelerators and investors. Moreover, with their experience and expertise in the startup space, their platform is bound to help entrepreneurs correctly while saving them much needed capital to deploy towards other aspects of their business.