When Kate Daly went through an expensive and protracted divorce, she and friend Pip Wilson decided that there had to be a better way – and amicable was born.
The duo launched an app to help divorcing and separating couples to negotiate without solicitors. After listening to the market over two years, in 2017 the startup evolved into a full online legal service to help people end relationships “in a kinder and better way”.
“The consumer legal market has been quite slow in embracing technology and new ways of working,” CEO Wilson tells TechBlast. “Our approach of working with couples as a divorce services firm, rather than a legal firm, is designed to challenge and change the market.”
Traditional law firms still dominate the divorce market, but the landscape is changing. Shifting attitudes to separation, court reform and technological advancement present a global opportunity.
amicable’s tech-enabled approach to working with couples has been endorsed by the High Court, proving there is a better way to end relationships.
“Although the Solicitors Regulation Authority had given us the all-clear, we still had some challenges from the legal industry, which ended up in a case in the High Court,” says Wilson. “We were delighted that the judgement from this validated our model of working with couples rather than individuals and helping couples negotiate financial settlements together rather than having to seek separate legal advice.”
amicable offers fixed-price services, includes VAT in all its pricing and avoids legal jargon. Customers have access to an online dashboard and use its virtual meeting rooms to negotiate with their ex, facilitated by specialists.
It also has a co-parenting app – a subscription service helping those who wish to manage their co-parenting relationship in an amicable way.
“We have helped 8,000 people through the divorce and separation process to date – and likely to be more than 3,000 this year,” reveals Wilson. “Our success rate in getting our premium customers to an agreement that they are happy with, and the court will ratify, is 95%. That is unprecedented in this market.”
The founders have a varied professional background. Prior to amicable, Daly left KPMG to qualify in counselling psychology before becoming a resolution-trained family consultant working with many of London’s top collaborative lawyers.
Wilson, meanwhile, is a serial tech entrepreneur – having also founded Bluefin – director, angel investor and startup mentor.
In amicable – which employs 33 people – they have built a diverse and inclusive workplace with a 75/25 female-to-male ratio from different backgrounds across the UK. “We offer very flexible working in terms of hours and remote-first location, which has enabled us to attract some hugely talented people for which the standard legal industry employment model is too rigid,” explains Wilson.
amicable is among 35 companies which have been accepted onto the eighth edition of Tech Nation’s Upscale. The six-month government-backed programme is designed to support and scale the most promising mid-stage tech companies in the UK, at a critical stage of their growth.
The companies will receive over 60 hours of support at world-class coaching sessions – delivered by over 20 expert scale coaches – attend networking events with key stakeholders, peers, corporates and investors, and have access to a range of online resources, designed to tackle fundamental scaling challenges around culture, talent, international expansion and financing.
“We are looking forward to connecting with our peers in the UK scaleup cohort, as this will be a fantastic opportunity to learn and work with both them and Tech Nation to further accelerate our growth through the programme,” says Wilson. “We have already formed a partnership with one of the other Upscale companies.
“Our current focus is to expand our market share within the UK and become the go-to brand for divorce and separation. This includes expanding our services to cater for even more of the market. We then believe our model has international potential, especially within the US.”
amicable has raised multiple funding rounds, with initial backing from a group of angel investors and more recently via a round led by private investment network 24Haymarket.
What one nugget of advice does Wilson have for people looking to found a tech business?
“Make sure any tech you build is based on what people will use, not what you think they will use!” she answers. “It is a very quick way to burn lots of cash by building over complex or perfect technology that doesn’t then have product-market fit.”
Cooper Parry, Cooley and Silicon Valley Bank will be Programme Partners for this year’s Upscale programme.