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Tauranga startup LawVu raises $17m for US push

by | Aug 10, 2021

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Tauranga legal software startup LawVu has raised $17 million in a Series A round led by New York-based venture capital firm Insight Partners with support from Australia’s AirTree Ventures.

The chunky raise follows the May revelation from founder and CEO Sam Kid that his firm has inked a deal with a giant US social media platform.

LawVu makes cloud-based software for in-house legal teams, helping with tasks such as creating contracts, collaboration and sharing documents. Its platform can work with a range of other software, including Outlook and e-signature service DocuSign.

Kidd and co-founder Tim Boyne got the idea when they were working in and around corporate NZ in the early 2010s; Kidd for a startup that integrated accounting software with IRD’s systems, Boyne as an IT operations manager at a law firm in 2015.

“Often in a big firm, there’s a lot of repetitive legal work, or sometimes the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing,” Kidd said.

The pair thought in-house legal teams needed their own software platform, just as sales people had Salesforce.

AirTree also supported a $2.5m seed this year, which was supported by American VC firm Shashtra Ventures and the Crown-backed NZ Growth Capital Partners – which in turn complemented a $3.8m seed round the same year led by former Russell McVeagh lawyer turned investor Kent Gardner and supported by Icehouse Ventures.

LawVu increased staff numbers from 20 at the start of last year to more than 70. Kidd said that with its new funding, it will end the year with more than 100.

Tauranga City Council became LawVu’s first customer, and something of a test-bed. Dunedin City Council came next, followed by top-tier corporates.

LawVu’s twin raises this year follow big wins across the Tasman where Telstra and Nissan Australia have adopt the company’s software.

In New Zealand, Fonterra, James Hardie and Sky TV are hero customers. PwC and lead-services provider Axiom are partners.

The funds raised this year are earmarked for expansion further into the US and other territories.

LawVu has usually pitched against software companies that are much larger, but also offering on-premise (pre-cloud) ELM (enterprise legal management) software, Kidds says, which can be complicated and require a big implementation team. The Kiwi startup positions itself as a modern, nimble, cloud-age contender.

Kidd said the company would remain headquartered in Tauranga.

In LawVu’s early days, the location was a drawcard. “We were paying Auckland and Wellington salaries in an area with much cheaper housing and a great lifestyle,” he says.

The housing price gap has since narrowed, but “now, remote working is the new normal”, he adds. Recent hires are working from various provincial locations, including Queenstown and Invercargill. “We fly people in when we need to.”

Kidd declined to give a post-money valuation, but a Companies Office update after the $17m raise shows new investor Insight Partners with a 15.5 per cent stake and the topped-up AirTree on 6.3 per cent.

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