Star of the WeekLegalTech

Picture the scene: you’re negotiating with a new client when the contract lands on your desk. It should be a simple process, but the paperwork totals 500 pages. Your heart sinks. 

It’s a scenario most businesses have encountered and it’s the reason why a Manchester-based startup is causing so much excitement.

Qualified lawyer Tom Dunlop (pictured, right) launched Summize in 2018 after working at a number of leading North West tech firms including Zuto and Appsense and identifying the problem.

It combines human expertise and AI-powered technology to produce intelligent contract summaries, pulling out the key points.

The company’s annual recurring revenue (ARR) has increased by over 900% in the past two years and is expected to hit £1 million in the coming months.

Summize’s tagline is ‘changing the game for contracts’ and the company now has more than 80 customers, including Vodafone, Everton FC, Fujifilm, FIFA and NCC Group.

Dunlop, who previously played badminton for Great Britain, says Summize – our latest Star of the Week – is fixing an age-old problem.

“Summize essentially summarises contracts at its core and then gives the rest of the business a better way to interact with legal,” he tells TechBlast.

“Working as an in-house lawyer and dealing with lengthy contracts every day made me feel the pain that companies were experiencing.

“I did some research on this: contracts date back to 400 B.C. and the whole point of them is to act as a document to record an agreement.

“Over the years they’ve got massively complex. The ones that I used to deal could be 100 pages, 200 pages or even 1,000 pages!

“There was a lack of understanding about what was in them but also what people were agreeing to. There was a lack of awareness about what was in the contracts.

“That’s where Summize comes in. It creates an instant summary of a contract through technology.”

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The Summize platform is used by in-house and private legal practices to help understand, manage and review contracts better.

The software enables users to upload multiple contracts and summarise key points instantly, saving clients up to 85% in time cost per review. 

It then facilitates self-service from other commercial stakeholders such as sales users, acting as the ‘front door’ for contract creation.

Dunlop’s co-founder is David Smith (pictured, left), who works as the chief development officer and has a wealth of experience in software development.  “David is the technical one and I’m the more commercial one,” explains Dunlop.

Describing how the technology works Dunlop says: “The AI technology looks for the needle in the haystack. We look for the most relevant clauses in a contract to look for things like termination details and payment terms for example. 

“We can find that needle in the haystack. As well as find it we can present it in a meaningful way and make the data useful and usable.

“A lot of the language used in contracts is not normal language. It doesn’t say what you want it to say. We try and produce a summary that will answer questions. It’s a lot easier than sifting through lots of contracts.”

 

The company has raised £2.5m in investment so far, mainly from chairman and serial entrepreneur Charles Sharland and NPIF Maven Equity Finance.

Straight-talking Sharland says Summize offers a ‘simple solution to a ball-ache problem’.

Writing on LinkedIn, he explained: “I’m helping a very ambitious and focused team create software to cut the drudgery out of document review.”

The company now has around 30 staff and has beefed up its management team with the appointment of Ben Audley as chief revenue officer. He was previously the founder and CEO of cybersecurity training firm Purplephish.

Other hires include Laura Butler as VP of marketing, who previously worked at software companies Avecto and AppLearn. Richard Somerfield as CTO completes the leadership team, formerly of Appsense and Ivanti.

The startup has also integrated an AI bot into its platform to simplify the process.

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