We have some big news to share today
We’ve raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by Christoph Janz at Point Nine Capital to support our mission of building Donna, our legal AI (Assistive Intelligence) that helps with the tedious parts of writing and reading legal contracts and makes it much more fun and productive.
We’re really excited to have the backing of Point Nine as we move into the next phase of our growth. The team’s experience with investments in companies like Typeform, Zendesk and many other SaaS and consumer based companies is invaluable to us. They really understand that we are building a consumer friendly app for lawyers and not just another hard-to-adopt enterprise tool. We’re also excited to have Jack Newton from Clio (the law-practice management software company) onboard - Jack knows the ins-and-outs of the industry like no one else and they similarly build a very end-user focussed product. A strategy that seems to be working as they also raised $250 million in funding earlier this year.
We started Donna 2 years ago when we realised that lawyers spend a lot of time on robot-like tasks - proofreading, formatting documents and pouring through hundreds of pages looking for tiny details. As developers this was a problem we could relate to. Whether it's spending hours pouring through code or legal documents, the real value lies in the more engaging aspects of both jobs, creative problem solving. So we set out to build an AI assistant that could free up lawyers to focus their time on the ‘more human’ aspects of their jobs.
The debate around AI is largely polarising in the legal sphere. Our aim is to advocate and educate lawyers about the potential for AI to replace ‘the robot within the lawyer’. We’re starting by recoining AI as Assistive Intelligence. Technology and tools that can be used for enhancing and complementing skill sets rather than replacing them. Because Assistive Intelligence tools like Donna still rely on the user's intuition and experience to make a judgement. Their benefit lies in accessing and reading data, identifying patterns and providing concise information at exactly the right time. Allowing lawyers to make more informed and quicker decisions. And instead of spending hours checking every comma we allow for more time to spend on work that a client will actually perceive as added value helping build a stronger relationship.
So what’s next for Donna?
Our current focus is to “Underpromise and Overdeliver”. This means simplifying the tool in a couple of ways for new users and making tremendous improvements to Donna’s ability to understand contracts.
We’re aware that Donna can make some mistakes. That’s why behind the scenes we’ve been working on a new neural network that not only has learned to mimic the rules we programmed but also how to apply those rules in edge cases. When this new engine is rolled out in the coming weeks our goal is to make sure that if Donna does make a mistake it should not feel like an obvious mistake to the user.
We’re also going to be investing a lot of resources in you, our users. We’ve already started with 1-on-1 onboarding calls to help new users get started. But we really want you to succeed (not just with Donna) and so we’ll be expanding our customer success team. With the idea to help experienced users adopt some of Donna’s more powerful features into advanced workflows. Whilst firmly standing by our business model where you only pay for monthly active users.
Later this year we’ll also be adding more multi-user features that will link your Donna to your colleagues. This will allow Donna to keep track of frequently used snippets and make that information accessible in a convenient way for others. Inspired by many of you, who said that someone at your firm might have already drafted a great definition for a particular client that does exactly what you need.
And finally we’re also looking at expanding to both more languages and platforms. Although Microsoft Word covers a lot of use cases we’re always looking for new opportunities to have an impact. We see a big push within organisations to move to the cloud and currently Microsoft’s offering in this area isn’t very strong. Office Online lacks a lot of the features used by lawyers every day and as such we’re increasingly seeing users adopt Google Docs and Apple products into their workflows.
These are really exciting times ahead of us. We cannot thank our users enough for having shown so much passion and excitement since the very early iterations of the product. The money we raised will continue to make Donna a great partner to have by your side. We’re looking forward to sharing more of our journey with you, so stayed tuned.