Automate the legal profession? This St. John’s company landed $750,000 to give it a shot

Posted on December 11, 2019 | Sarah Smellie | 0 Comments

A company based in Toronto and St. John’s hoping to save lawyers hours of reading and reams of paperwork landed $750,000 in pre-seed investments from venture funds in Atlantic Canada and Toronto.

Rally is a high-tech startup developing software for business law firms that will help make legal documents “computer-understandable” and help lawyers collaborate more efficiently.

The company was founded by Scott Stevenson, Daniel Di Maria and Matthew Mayers about two years ago and now operates from the Genesis Centre in St. John’s and a secondary office in Toronto.

“This marks a very important milestone for us,” Stevenson says. The money will allow the company to grow to eight or nine people—twice the size it is now. They’ll be hiring software developers to work in St. John’s and marketing staff to work in Toronto, he says.

The money will also allow the team to dig in and further develop the collaboration side of their platform, he says.

Stevenson addresses the crowd at Wednesday’s funding announcement.

The $750,000 of investments announced Wednesday at Memorial University’s Signal Hill campus is the company’s first round of funding. Venture Newfoundland and Labrador, managed by Pelorus Venture Capital, kicked in $250,000; Killick Capital committed another $250,000; and the last third comes from Concrete Ventures, in Halifax; and Good News Ventures in Toronto.

The nod from Good News Ventures was a particularly welcomed shot of validation, Stevenson says. “It showed that not only are we trying to invest in this company and support our economy, but this is a legitimate opportunity that an investor outside of Newfoundland wants to invest in.”

Rally has one major anchor client and is working with ten other early-adapter law firms. Stevenson says they’re expecting to hit $500,000 in annual recurring revenue within the next 18 months.

It takes a village

Chris Moyer, who manages Pelorus, said he’s had his eye on the Rally team for a while. Right now, the startup ecosystem in St. John’s is the strongest in Atlantic Canada, he says, and it’s thanks to companies like Rally and incubators like Genesis that support them.

Chris Moyer manages the Venture Newfoundland and Labrador fund for Pelorus Venture Capital.

And the strength of that ecosystem is the real takeaway from Wednesday’s announcement, Stevenson says. Companies like Verafin, HeyOrca, Mysa and CoLab have built the runway for startups like his and they work hard to support up-and-coming entrepreneurs, he says.

“Each new company is doing things faster and more efficiently,” he says, because they’re learning from the towering success of those businesses.

But Rally’s no slouch. Last month, the team was flown to Silicon Valley after being selected to pitch to the prestigious Y Combinator program, where companies like Dropbox and Airbnb got their start. Rally wasn’t ultimately accepted, but Stevenson said he learned a lot from the experience and made some important connections.

Read more about Stevenson’s adventures in Silicon Valley

Stevenson is a known and respected creative inventor in St. John’s. In 2016, he teamed up with Canadian composer Andrew Staniland and musician Josh Bourdan to build a ground-breaking new musical instrument called the Mune. The Mune was electronic but played more like an acoustic instrument, making live electronic performance more engaging for the audience.

He says his main advice to young creators is to keep at it.

“The most important thing is to go and do it and not be afraid to fail,” he says.

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