It has been quite a year for legal tech startup Evisort. Twelve months ago this week, the company introduced its flagship product, Document Analyzer, a cloud-based AI and text-mining application that helps enterprises analyze and manage their contracts. At the time, I wrote that it “might just be the hottest legal tech and AI company you’ve never heard of.”
After launching with angel funding from Amity Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm, and Village Global, a VC firm whose backers include Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Reid Hoffman, the company earlier this year raised another $4.5 million in seed funding. Now today it is announcing that it has closed a Series A funding round of $15 million.
This latest round was led by Vertex Ventures, part of a global network of funds backed by Singapore-based Temasek, and Microsoft Corporation’s M12 Ventures, with participation by Amity and Serra Ventures. With this investment, Vertex general partner In Sik Rhee is joining Evisort’s board, and M12 head Nagraj Kashyap is joining the board as an observer.
Evisort was founded in 2016 by two Harvard Law School students, Jerry Ting and Jake Sussman (who both graduated last year), and MIT student Amine Anoun. Their vision was to build a platform that used AI to help companies mine their contracts for insights and key information by turning unstructured text into structured data.
Since launching their product last year, Ting told me earlier this week, they have expanded that vision to encompass any legal document that defines a business action or relationship, meaning not only contracts, but also statements of work, invoices, purchase orders, and SLA or rebate tables. That includes both pre-signature and post-signature stages of legal documents.
“Our goal is to relieve legal and procurement teams from the labor-intensive process of managing contracts and empower them with the insights they need to truly do their jobs,” Ting said. “We’re excited to deliver a solution that impacts their day-to-day and frees them up to do the core work they are experts at.”
“Evisort is focused on one of the most labor-intensive systems within mid to large-sized enterprises and is leveraging a robust AI engine to deliver mission-critical insights,” Vertex partner Rhee said in a statement announcing the investment. “By removing the friction these teams face with daily document processing, this elegant and simple use of powerful AI algorithms can impact a company’s bottom line.”
Evisort says it has brought in more than 100 enterprise customers this year, including Brooks Brothers, Cox Automotive, Fujitsu, TravelZoo and Sweetgreen. More than half of its customers deploy the product to multiple departments — including legal, finance, procurement and HR — within the first 30 days of their engagement. The platform can be deployed behind a company’s firewall or within a company’s private cloud environment.
Ting said the new funds will be used to add employees in various roles and for engineering to enhance and expand the company’s products. Over the past year, the company grew from nine employees to 35. Ting expect to double that number within the next six months.
The money will also be used to launch a new research and development office in Montreal, Quebec, where the company anticipates hiring 10 employees for its technical and engineering team. “Montreal has emerged in the last five years to be a center for AI expertise,” Ting said.
A major goal for the company is to build a true end-to-end product for managing legal documents within an enterprise, Ting said. While other AI contracts products focus on signed documents, none provide a solution that manages the full document lifecycle, he said.
“Historically, the management of purchase orders, invoices, statements of work and similar documents were left to ERP systems,” Ting said. “This data is contractual in nature, so why limit our platform to long-form contracts? If we can tie these things together, then what we’re building is a more holistic platform.”
For Ting, that also means using the data Evisort extracts from these contracts and other documents to build better workflows. When a contract is coming up for renewal, data can help build a workflow around who owns that contract and who uses the service. Analysis of employment documents can indicate who has yet to sign policy acknowledgements.
Another major area of focus for Evisort will be better integrating with Microsoft Sharepoint, which Ting said is used by 80% of his customers. He expressed hope that the investment by Microsoft’s M12 Ventures will help spur Evisort’s development in that area.
“Simply put, Evisort is creating the new command center for the operations team for mid- to large- enterprises,” M12’s global head Kashyap said in a statement. “Evisort’s AI algorithms draw out the deepest insights for legal, procurement, and financial teams, and are pushing the envelope on AI advancements.”