Hence – the AI-powered platform transforming the way in-house legal teams work with lawyers – has raised $1.8m from high-profile angel investors and institutions.
These include Daglar Cizmeci and Daybreak Partners, the investment vehicle managed by Nate Dalton who was the co-Founder and former General Counsel and then President and CEO of Affiliated Managers Group. Broad Creek Capital, a global private investment partnership started by two former lawyers Matthew Ruesch and Michael W. Green, as well as a number of other angels and families participated.
Hence empowers those who need to buy legal services to make the right choices for their business. It is not a marketplace for legal services, so it has no incentive to push clients into spending more on legal services. Instead, Hence’s precision matching engine uses data and AI to ensure the right lawyer is selected for the right matter, every time.
Thanks to its intuitive user experience, companies can search by firm, person, matter, location, expertise and spend at the touch of a button. They can access all relevant details as well as historical case data about their chosen lawyer. Thus creating a seamless data experience for its clients.
Today’s announcement takes the total raised by the startup to more than $2.6m, following last year’s $900,000 funding round led by angel investors on three continents. This latest round is an endorsement of Hence’s groundbreaking platform and demonstrates Hence’s potential to disrupt the market for professional provider services.
Empowering companies to make better decisions through data and AI
Hence was founded by Steve Heitkamp, Sean West and Arun Shanmuganathan. Heitkamp worked for years at the sharp end of innovative data science at data analytics giant Palantir. West has extensive experience advising the CEOs of some of the largest companies in the world on risk, while Shanmuganathan is a mathematician and previously worked in the computer science faculty at the African Leadership University.
During their respective working experiences, the trio saw that many corporations have no way of collating or collecting their previous experiences with legal services. This led to them often making poor choices, or relying on expensive consultants to advise them how to optimize their relationships with lawyers and law firms.
The market for legal services is worth $800bn a year and the average Fortune 500 company spends nearly $200m a year on lawyers alone – most of whom are selected on referrals and brand, rather than hard data. Hence’s recommendations can ensure that companies are spending money on advisers on the back of evidence that they are appropriate for the task.
Successful pilots point the way ahead in 2022
The funding follows successful deployments of the platform with multinationals, including the leading global corporate services provider for one of America’s largest investment companies. Having demonstrated that Hence’s product meets a great need across the corporate world, the funding will be used to roll the platform out to in-house legal teams at many more US and European multinationals in 2022.
Last year, Hence joined the first cohort of Palantir's Foundry for Builders, which gave Hence unique access to a world-class platform which underpins its cutting-edge software. The startup’s customers now have the ability to access unparalleled data security as well as scalability options and integrations from day one of signing up. Crucially, Hence can offer the scale and depth of Palantir’s incredible technology at a cost that is affordable to law departments and the relationship between Hence and the renowned US tech company reflects the potential of the Hence platform.
Tapping into global tech talent
Since launch, Hence has been based in London with a hub in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, now a hive of tech talent. Early on, the founders of Hence realised that the high-quality engineering talent and rapidly expanding tech ecosystem in Rwanda provided a great opportunity to fast-track the company's growth.
Hence now plays an active part in the Rwandan tech ecosystem, including encouraging early-stage companies to think bigger than the Rwandan or even African market and to view themselves as capable of creating solutions that are globally relevant. Hence has built out a world-class team in Kigali which benefits from best-in-class salary, benefits and equity packages. This investment represents a renewed commitment to Rwanda as the company's tech hub.
Sean West, Co-Founder of Hence, said: “Even the most innovative companies buy knowledge services like legal the same way they did 100 years ago - through referrals and gut instinct. Hence empowers Chief Legal Officers, General Counsels and their teams with the data and analysis they need to evaluate and make the right decisions for their organisations across hundreds of millions of dollars in spend. The platform helps companies to draw insights from their own data for their own purposes, meaning that the person buying legal services will get an unbiased view and will also be able to better manage performance with trusted advisers.”
Nate Dalton, Daybreak Partners, added: “I have seen the incredibly inefficient market for legal services from many sides, having been an outside lawyer, GC of an acquisitive highly regulated public company, and the executive to whom the GC reports. With Hence there is finally a tool that allows clients to move from large scale, mostly anecdotal, decision making to empirical evidence-based decision making, with continuous improvement after every interaction. These last two years have ushered in a period of incredible change in the way we work, and it is very exciting to see the team at Hence leveraging the talent in Kigali and the Palantir platform to begin to execute on their vision to dramatically improve the efficiency of the global professional services markets."
Matthew Ruesch, Co-founder of investors Broad Creek Capital said: “As a former lawyer and current private equity investor, I know how slowly the legal industry has been leveraging data and technology to improve efficiency. Especially relative to other sectors. The opportunity to invest in a disruptive solution to performance optimization in the legal industry at such an early stage is incredibly exciting.”
Shyam Sankar, COO at Palantir, added: "As a Palantir alumnus, Steve understands the value of our technology and will be able to utilise Palantir Foundry to its full potential to bolster Hence AI's capabilities and growth.”
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