For the second year in a row, a startup competition was held at ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago. This competition showcases legal technology startups and offers them an opportunity to showcase their wares. This year, 15 startups were slated to compete against each other, although at the time of the showdown, that number was 14. You can find a full list and description of the startups that were in the running over at Above the Law.
In 2018, each company was offered a discounted booth at TECHSHOW, along with an opportunity to present their product during the well-attended showdown held on Wednesday, March 7th. The TECHSHOW organizers did a great job this year, both with the competition itself and with the planning for the physical “Startup Alley” on the EXPO Hall floor. This year, the showdown was held was held in a large room removed from the EXPO Hall floor (unlike last year, where it was held in a corner on the floor). Also notable was that the Startup Alley on the EXPO floor was located in a well-traveled area that was very visible and easily located.
During the showdown, each company had an opportunity to play a video or provide a short presentation on their product. After all the pitches had concluded, attendees voted on the startup that they liked the most using the TECHSHOW App. It took a few minutes for everyone to locate the area within the app where the voting was to take place, but once they did, the voting occurred fairly effortlessly. The ability to vote on the app was just one more way that the app added to this year’s conference, as I discuss more fully here.
After the votes were tabulated, the winner was announced: Voluble. As the winner, Voluble will receive: 1) a 1-year Emerging Company membership in Evolve Law, 2) free booth space at the 2019 TECHSHOW, and 3) a profile on Above the Law.
I wasn’t surprised that Voluble won since it was one of the companies that caught my eye, along with four other standouts. Each of these companies provided software that filled a gap in the market and offered innovative solutions designed to help lawyers streamline their law firms, whether on the business end or during their day-to-day practice.
First, there’s the winner, Voluble. Based on the presentation, I assumed that Voluble was a software product, but it is actually a service that uses litigation consultants to pull data from the Internet, including social media platforms, from consumer conversations that are relevant to a particular litigation matter. The litigation consultants conduct the work, aided by software engineers who create algorithms for each client designed to streamline the consultants’ work. Pricing information is unavailable on their website, although the initial consultation is free.
Next up is SimplyAgree, which provides software that manages the closing process for complex corporate transactions, such as mergers and acquisitions. This SaaS service is focused on the end of a transaction and streamlines the administrative processes by automating the creation and sharing of signature packets and custom, indexed closing binders. The software relies on DocuSign to provide audit trails for signatures and more. Its pricing information is unavailable on its website.
Then there’s Time Miner, which is a mobile app with a very specific purpose: it’s intended to collect and track billable calls and text messages made on your mobile phone. It locates billable time and then generates a report that includes the client’s name, the type of communication, the length of time spent on the communication, and the dollar value of that time. The idea behind this app is that, depending on your billable hour, if you’re able to capture just a few tenths of an hour of billable time each month that you would have otherwise missed, the app more than pays for itself. The low price point is what makes this possible. The Android app subscription fee is $9.99 per month and the iOS app is $12.99 per month. Time Miner representatives explained to me that the iOS app costs a bit more because they are required to work with Ring Central in order to obtain the relevant data due to limitations within the iOS app.
The last two products are designed to assist customers in managing legal spend. First, there’s Digitory Legal, which is software designed to help law firms accurately price legal matters. Budgeting insights are based on past billing data, providing customers with data analytics that help them to accurately predict the scope of and price legal matters. The platform can then be used to manage a project, including staffing and time tracking. Pricing is a three-tier model, from a free account with limits on the number of clients and matters, to a platinum account at $40/month for a single user with unlimited clients and matters.
Finally, there’s Qualmet. This was by far my favorite presentation of the competition. CEO James Beckett provided a memorable and very funny talk. Similar to Digitory Legal, Qualmet focuses on managing legal spend and helps law departments manage and measure the value of outside counsel. This cloud-based platform provides an evaluation process to measure the value and performance of external legal service providers, and also includes a portal to facilitate collaboration and communication between inside and outside counsel. Pricing is a three-tier model starting at $39/user/month, with enterprise pricing and a free 30-day trial available.
So that’s it for this year’s wrap up of the 2018 ABA TECHSHOW startup competition. Tune in next year to find out all about the next round of legal tech entrepreneurs!