How I raised $600k seed capital

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I have always believed that if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Until last year I’d never really had to ask people for money (except the bank). As a lawyer I’ve watched my clients with admiration as they raise money to get all sorts of business ventures off the ground.  After my Dad’s funeral, I decided it was time for our tech company Automio to soar. I was faced with the daunting task of raising seed capital to get it to launch.

The beginning of the story 

It started back in the 80s when my Dad was working in the UK and saw a job advertised relating to document automation for lawyers. He hadn’t heard of document automation before but it peaked his interest. He knew that creating software that would allow lawyers to automate their processes for creating legal documents was a game changer, and it became a lifelong dream for him.

I started working with Dad at our law firm in 2008 and we talked a lot about document automation and using technology to better serve clients and ourselves. We knew that our customers were craving an updated way to interact with the legal industry, and we wanted to give it to them. Plus, we were sick of working massive hours and wanted to find a way to get our lives back by turning our expertise into products that could be sold over and over again.

In 2012 we started Legal Beagle, a non-traditional law firm offering online legal services at up front prices. Our clients loved it, but we wanted to take it one step further – we wanted to automate the process of preparing legal documents ourselves, without needing the expertise of a developer or coder, so that clients can serve themselves online. And so our software company Automio was born. We set about developing document automation software to modernise the legal industry. Automio isn’t just limited to the legal industry. It can be used by anyone wanting to automate a process that results in an output. The opportunities for it are massive.

Big ideas come with hefty price tags! 

After finding the right developers, we knew there were two stages of development required in order to launch Automio. We self-funded the first stage and used funding through Callaghan Innovation. The first stage of development was finished in March 2016 and Dad got to see it just before he died.

The estimate for the second stage of development was $76,500, but this was just the bare basics for what we needed. To increase our chances of success and develop the kickass business we dreamed of, we set ourselves a goal of raising $600k in exchange for selling 25% of the company. This money would cover extra software development, as well as product development and marketing.

Now I really had to get out of my comfort zone. I sat down and wrote a list of family members, personal friends, contacts from within the industry and acquaintances who I thought might be interested in investing in a tech company. I had done my research, prepared financial models and put together a pitch deck.

We got out there, put all modesty aside, and we asked. 

What happened next? I’m not going to pretend we didn’t have any rejections. We did and they were hard to take, but we went back to my list of potential investors and kept going. We expanded our campaign and started reaching out beyond my personal network.  We travelled to different cities to pitch to potential investors, and each time our pitch got better. It was hard work and overwhelming, but worthwhile.

Towards the end of 2016 we had successfully raised $600,000 to invest into developing Automio. 

I know…whoa! It’s still pretty crazy to think that we did it, but we smashed our goal.  We raised $600k by selling 25% of our company to 7 different investors. We also met a bunch of extraordinary people along the way, as well as several mentors who continue to give us invaluable advice.  We have been excitedly working away to get everything developed in time for our upcoming launch in March 2017, and are definitely feeling the need to impress our wonderful investors. Without them I’d still be a lawyer dreaming about a better way. I believe this is the work I was put on this earth to do.  It’s such important work and it’s amazing to have so many people cheering us on. 

I’d love for you to follow me on my Automio journey so please subscribe for our mailing list here – we’ll be sharing lots of cool and practical stuff about automation and Automio’s journey.

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