Here’s what Rose had to say about his company’s trajectory to date.
Q: Where did the idea for SeedLegals come from and why?
I used to head up BBC iPlayer. After I left the BBC I built a startup. Sold it. Build another startup. Sold it. Invested in a few startups. I got tired of paying law firms to do all the legals. Then I met my business partner, Laurent Laffy, a genius VC and angel investor who does funding deals as a chess grand master plays chess. We decided it was time to change that! So we worked to codify his deal knowledge and combine it with a modern tech platform, user interface and document generation engine, to create the platform that is rapidly changing the way UK funding rounds are done.
Q: Tell me an interesting fact about yourself.
When I was 20 and living in South Africa I had a government license to exceed to the speed limit, which I regularly did in my modified Alpha GTV 2000.
Q: What has been the hardest thing about setting up your business?
Choosing what to focus on next! One of the great joys of having a product that users love is you quickly create a huge list of things to add to the product. We speak to a lot of startups every day, and one of the biggest issues I see is founders not picking a goal, not staying focused on that goal, and being diverted by adjacent opportunities. And ditto for me, it’s always tough to pick the best thing to focus on next – small incremental improvements, a giant new feature, a grand vision, or the next thing our customers are asking for.
Q: What’s been the highlight so far?
Every day I demo SeedLegals to founders looking to grow their business. I completely love those calls because I see how our platform suddenly turns a task where a founder doesn’t even know where to start, into a process that is clear, that they find inspiring and empowering. It’s an honour and a privilege to be in a position where you’re able to help people realise their dream and vision just that bit faster. So it’s a daily highlight, rather than a single highlight.
Q: What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking to pitch their business on stage?
I had my ‘baptism of fire’ moment on stage years ago when I was CTO of a real-time 3D company. The future of the company depended on a successful pitch in front of 3000 people who were armed with ping pong guns to shoot you if you went over your allocated three minutes, and whoopee cushions to, well, make noises if your demo was boring or crashed. I survived that presentation, and from that I now have a few things I run through before going on stage:
Figure out the top three messages you want to get across, and memorise those. Then, even if the demo crashes, the projector doesn’t work or you have a brain fade, you can mentally jump back to those messages and deliver a coherent presentation regardless of what’s failing around you.
Why are you pitching? Do you want funding? Customers? Fame? An award? Work out exactly why you’re on stage, who the audience is, and create a vision they buy into and leads to the key thing you want to pitch them.
Is the future of the company dependent on this pitch, and are there 3000 screaming people just waiting to shoot you? No? Great, so just relax and have fun on stage.
That said, never take your audience for granted. If you don’t have some butterflies in your stomach as you step on stage you’re not taking things seriously enough, and that’s when your presentation becomes boring, fails to excite and engage, or goes wrong.
Q: How are things going? Can you share some stats?
SeedLegals is growing amazingly. There are now over 1500 companies on the platform, and we’re doing two funding rounds per day, making us the largest closer of funding rounds in the UK, all in just six months since we launched the platform. More importantly, customers write to us daily saying our service is amazing and that they’re telling everyone they know about us. We share those incomings on our internal Slack, they make us very happy.
Q: What can we expect from SeedLegals over the coming year?
We started out focussing on the needs of startups, in particular transforming the process of closing a funding round from something that used to take months and cost £5000 or more in legal fees into a step-by-step process that takes hours, with the cost to do all the legals for a complete funding round starting at just £700.
The next step is to make SeedLegals a platform for investors and VCs as well, which will totally transform the fundraising process as everyone is on the same platform and able to close a deal directly.
The step after that is to introduce continuous funding. Today it’s such a pain to do a funding round that you do it every 12-18 months. Imagine in the future someone is interested in investing in your company, you can take that investment in a few clicks, all your other investors get notified if they want in on the action, they can participate in a couple of clicks. And entire process, transformed. That’s just the start!
Q: What three key pieces of advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Make sure you have founder and employee agreements in place with everyone who works on the project, from day one. Those agreements should include intellectual property (IP) assignment, non- disclosure agreements (NDAs) and share vesting provisions. The reason is that things go wrong between founders, it’s not all plain sailing. Having these agreements in place means people can part as friends if things don’t work out, and the company, vision and team can continue.
Validate your idea before spending serious time and money building it. When you’re looking for funding, keep it simple. We see a huge number of early-stage startups and the funding rounds that complete seamlessly and quickly are the ones that stay with the proven formula: Everyone gets the same deal terms (avoid different terms for different investors, it becomes a race to the bottom), get your SEIS Advance Assurance sorted early on (it takes six weeks for HMRC to respond), make sure founder agreements are in place, and test your pitch on friends and advisors to have it hit all the right notes.