This is the second part of an interview on digital contract management platforms and, more specifically, on Contractbook. The first part is to be found here
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2019 was quite a productive year for Contractbook and even Google got interested in your startup. Could you tell us more about this promising partnership?
Last year we raised €3.5 million from a syndicate led by Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI Fund, the Nordic VC-fund byFounders and a group of key angel investors. That is, obviously, a massive stamp of approval of the way we are doing things.
The investment allows us to move faster, adds further flexibility and functionality to our solutions, and then we can use the expertise from our investors and the connections they have in Silicon Valley to make a strategic move into documentation, machine-learning and artificial intelligence. We have access to senior Google employees and they have the expertise that, for sure, can help us a lot. One of the reasons why they decided to bet on us is that we use a machine-friendly data format that makes it optimal for a future of data-driven contract automation.
Why did you make a Gmail Importer?
The new Gmail Importer that integrates with Google testifies to all our ambitions, but it is just the first baby step into document automation and the application of artificial intelligence. The Gmail importer extracts contracts from your Gmail account and uploads them automatically to an organised overview in Contractbook, where you can sort them, add tasks to them and ensure you fulfil all your obligations. Contracts are often perceived as “dead” once they are signed. But that is a shame because contracts and the data in them hold immense value. Leveraging this data will improve your legal position, mitigate potential legal risks and enable you to maximise the value of the deals you agree to. But that requires a streamlined and organised dataflow which you will only get in a contract management service like ours. The Gmail Importer is a product that bridges a “2005 workflow” with a “2025 workflow”. People have been using digital signatures for a long time, which is great, but the future is data-driven and automated, which fits very badly with using pdf-files and email threads as a storage room. You might now see the value immediately, which is okay, but you will future-proof your business. The earlier you establish those good habits, the better chance you will get.
How do you see the development scenario of Contractbook two or three years from now?
We have to maintain our strong unit economics while scaling and growing. Then we have to expand our product with more futuristic data-driven features. The way we organise contract data enables endless opportunities to create useful contract automation and we have to find the ones that give people the most value. We must make it easier for people to be more efficient, to mitigate any legal risk, fulfil all their obligations and, in general, improve their legal situation. Our goal is still to help people make better contracts and improve access to justice through the use of well-designed and intuitive technology.
It is obvious that Contractbook is not only for Denmark. Do you plan to expand your business internationally?
Yes! We are very strong in Scandinavia, but we are currently expanding to the rest of Europe. The market is mature for our solutions all over Europe - from Iceland to Italy. We are present in more than 60 countries, so we are all over the world, but with the support from Gradient Ventures and byFounders, we expect a larger, more strategic move into the US market in the near future.