What you Need to Know About Startup Funding: Learn about how a startup gets the capital it needs to start up.

A lot of startups are known as disruptors because they’re based on innovation, solving problems in new ways or addressing the disadvantages of existing products or creating entirely new categories of goods and services. A startup focuses on rapidly growing market in its niche, and solving user’s problem with its product. More often than not, one of the reasons why ideas are not executed or startups fail among other reasons is lack of funding.

How do you raise money when there is no money on the ground?

What are the available funding mechanisms to startup companies?

Some of the funding mechanisms stated to be available to startup companies are, but not limited to: Bootstrapping, Venture Capital Financing, Angel Investors, Crowdfunding, Loans/Grants, and many others. 

Bootstrapping is the term used to describe a method of funding or starting up a business using nothing but personal financial resources. It is a popular approach for startups who are trying to reduce risk, conserve capital, or gain control of their brand. Energy is expended on the developed product or service itself rather than pitching to investors and other potential sources of capital funding. It can however be a time-consuming and sometimes difficult process, but typically results in greater control of the company and minimized amount of outside debt.

See stories of startups that bootstrapped and became profitable without seeking venture capital.

Venture capital (also called “venture funding”) is money given to startups by private equity firms as the capital they need to grow or expand into new markets. If your startup has potential for long-term growth, you can go to venture capital firms. Venture capital financing is provided not just in financing but also in the form of managerial and/or technical expertise. The goal of venture capital investors is usually to get high return on investment (ROI). Venture capital funding is a great option for startups that are keen on scaling quickly. . Venture capital funding provides valuable information, resources, strategic guidance and technical expertise/assistance to make a business successful.

See this article on Dadaben blog on how venture funds work

Crowdfunding is an adaption of technological disruptions that has come to the forefront in the 21st century. This is when a “crowd” funds a project or business with small donations from many people, rather than one or two major investors. This type of funding mechanism cuts out having to access only professional investors and allows the public to invest in an idea or startup. Crowdfunding also helps to drive engagement to and awareness of the startup. The types of crowdfunding are; donations, debt, rewards and equity.

See examples of crowdfunding sites

Angel investors are individuals with a high net worth that helps startups and small businesses gain financial backing in exchange for equity in the company. These investors can sometimes mean the difference between an idea becoming an empire or never getting off the ground. Because of their entrepreneurial background, they know a good investment opportunity when they see one. They more often than not, have an investor network and can get multiple people to invest. However, an angel investor’s higher risk tolerance may come with the expectation of a high return. 

Picking a funding mechanism for startups basically depends on the size of the startup, its envisaged growth and purpose, as well as weighing the pros and cons of each mechanism. Startup founders should take all this into consideration before opting for a funding mechanism.  

DIGITAL CONTRACTING FOR LAW FIRMS

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With the introduction of disruptive technologies, collaborative tools, and digital transformation, the business industry has become revolutionised. Contracts, however – which form the basis of business engagements/interactions have not kept up with the digital surge owing to: inscrutability, variations in contracts, and collaboration needed among multi-players to mention a few. Contracts signify agreements between parties with the objective of creating legal consequences. Traditional signing and other methods of conventional contracts may lead to delay, deal fatigue, and sometimes, missing out on a deal.

With time being of the essence, companies have continued to look for ways to facilitate contracting, and have started implementing digital solutions to facilitate contracting, from negotiation through execution. Given the advent of the pandemic and the migration of activities to cyber space, digital solutions that enable contracting and in turn business continuity have become a necessity. One of such digital solutions is Digital contracting.

Digital contracting is a process that turns the entire contracting lifestyle, not just signature, or storage, but every stage of the journey into a data-first, collaborative, browser-based workflow. This enables everyone in the business to work with contracts seamlessly – whatever their role. Digital contracting supports all types of contracts and facilitates all the process required for contracting. It enables smarter agreements to be executed faster. The overall status of contracts, as well as renewal dates will be widely known by members of the organisation, thereby providing unparalleled information about contracts within the organisation. More benefits of digital contracting can be found here.

Digital contracting offers a wide range of benefits; It provides templates designed for various contract types, ensuring a standardized format for even future contracts. It also plays a key role in the development of business operations, by improving the availability of contract information. The system ensures that all contracts can be conveniently found in the same place and available to authorized employees. Systems such as Excel and Word do not enable users to monitor the implementation of negotiations and contracts. They do not allow you to automate the management of contract monitoring, things like the fulfillment of contractual obligations, renewal of contracts, or the compliance of the contracting parties. These are however obtainable with digital contracting. Document management systems may be suited for some contract management tasks but this will require both product development and customization in order to function properly

As much as the benefits to digital contracting seems appealing, there are certain downsides as well. Due to limited storage and the difficulty of storing all documents on their servers, organizations depend on other sources and third parties to store documents. There is also the dependency on a proprietary signature for the execution of electronic signatures. When securing a contract management system, data security and privacy should form part of the overreaching factors taken into consideration. Digital contracts should be stored, retained, and archived using the same sort of privacy as conventional contracts to protect clients’ personally identifiable information. The unreliability of internet infrastructure could also pose a challenge to digital contracting.

Conclusively, it is safe to say that digital contracting would be the wave of the future. It is possible that there could be a synergy between traditional contracts and digital contracts for efficient and seamless contracting. This new mode of contracting can be used by all companies, irrespective of the size of data and the type of industry. It can also be used for all kinds of contracts. It is more agile, providing multiple advantages to organizations and businesses.

Afriwise raises £1 million to accelerate its expansion into new countries and enhance technology

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Afriwise, an online platform in Africa that provides instant answers to legal and business questions, has secured a €1m investment from a pair of angel investors. Afriwise was created by Africans for Africans, and is extremely useful for anyone doing business in Africa.

Three years after being founded (end of 2018), Afriwise welcomes new investors to its shareholding, with Jacques Emsens and Christophe de Limburg Stirum joining the company’s board of directors, where they are welcomed by early investors Bart Sobry (Zoutman/Potrell) and Mathias Vandaele (Hectaar). The company announced that it has raised a €1 million investment from the Belgian investors. This is promising, as we don’t hear nearly enough about legal tech investments in Africa.

Afriwise is a subscription-based online legal know-how service founded by Steven De Backer, a former South African lawyer now based in Belgium. It offers up-to-date legal knowledge about African markets in real-time, thanks to a collaborative model with top local firms and proprietary, cutting-edge technology. The company has been recognized as the most authoritative and robust online legal-information solution across Africa, offering access to domestic legislation and bills, legal reporting, in-depth practical advice and legal-sourcing solutions, all from a single, centralised platform. Bolloré, Deloitte, Barloworld, Vodafone, Roche, General Electric, DHL, and MTN among others, have all implemented this ground-breaking solution.

Afriwise believes that by partnering with and completely incorporating the African legal sector into its platform, it is contributing to the advancement of the SDGs in the legal and justice space. Indeed, the company collaborates with over 100 law firms across Africa to provide the platform’s in-depth practical legal guidance, making it the biggest joint project ever unveiled in the African professional services sector. 

According to De Backer, the new funding will be used to provide users with more relevant content, accelerate expansion into new countries, and enhance the platform’s technology.

 Apart from Afriwise, other legal research platforms based in Africa include : Legal Doctrine, Judy, LawPavilion, JurisAfrica, etc.

LegalTech Communities for Lawyers in Africa

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As legal practitioners in Africa seek a better understanding of what is happening at the cutting edge of law and technology, as well as exploring opportunities to participate in the development or adoption of new legal technologies, there is no shortage of communities to which they can turn. 

Lawyers can join a legal community platform (more virtual than physical) in order to gain access to accurate information and knowledge sharing. Today’s world revolves around interactions and personal relationships, hence being a part of such communities is critical to building a high-quality network of colleagues for situations where you need guidance, advice or suggestions.

After all, who wouldn’t want to be a part of a community that offers free and private connections while still providing opportunities to learn and share information on a daily basis?

Changes in the legal industry brought about by technology have spawned a fascinating network of communities devoted to legal innovation in all its forms:

  1. The Innovation Law Club Africa

The Innovation Law Club Africa (“ILCA”) is a global network of technology law experts. The ILCA was founded to educate and empower lawyers and law students on a wide range of technology law topics. ILCA recognizes the need to train a new generation of African lawyers who understand how the law responds to the growth, challenges, and opportunities of innovation. The ILCA has organized a number of insightful events in line with their objectives. For instance, the conversation with Rajan Gupta, Head of Legal Technology, Facebook. Also, the fireside chat with Aaron Fu, Head of Growth at the Catalyst Fund, and many more. Join the community .

  1. The Africa Law and Tech Network

The African Law & Tech Network is a group of legal industry experts and connectors who collaborate with law firms, regulators, and governments all over the world. The ALT Network’s mission is to strengthen Africa’s legal and technological ecosystem by promoting the growth of enabling legislative and regulatory environments for tech innovation across all industries. Membership of this community comes both in the free access and the paid access. You can get more information on being a member of the community here.

  1. Africa Legal

Africa Legal was created in 2018 with the aim of making it easier for African legal professionals to advance their careers, stay up to date on industry news, and take advantage of digital courses all in one spot. Africa Legal’s mission is to become the go-to resource for African professional careers at any time and any place.

  1. Legal Hackers

Legal Hackers is a global movement of lawyers, policymakers, designers, technologists, and academics who explore and create innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing legal and technological issues. Legal Hackers identify challenges and opportunities in the practice of law through local meetups, hackathons, and workshops. In Africa, there is Legal Hackers Lagos, Legal Hackers Abuja, Legal Hackers Cape Town, Legal Hackers Accra, Legal Hackers Kampala, and many more.

  1. Lawyers Hub Kenya

The Lawyers Hub, Kenya is a Legal-Technology Policy organization whose mission is to provide creative and technology-driven solutions to policy, legal practice, and access to justice, with an emphasis on technology-driven businesses and policy alternatives. HiiL, Google, Omidyar Network, Scale My Hustle, Amnesty International, and others have lent their support to this community. The Lawyers Hub, Kenya has a telegram community platform that you can join here.

  1. Africa Innovation Law and Tech Academy

The academy equips students with the legal expertise and technical skills necessary to comprehend the relationship between law, technology, and innovation.

7. Lawyers in Tech

The Lawyers in Tech community has a mission to ensure that new generation of lawyers are well-prepared to practice law in this digital age. They believe that lawyers must be bilingual; they must understand both the language of the code and the language of the law. For anyone interested in being a part of this community, you can send your names and phone numbers to faithbose.obafemi@gmail.com.

  1. Africa Law Tech Association

This association was formed by the Lawyers Hub with the aim of engaging Individual members, institutions, law firms, tech firms, development partners, other relevant organizations across the continent on law and technology spheres. The association is also the organizer of the annual Africa Law Tech Festival, an annual conference designed to appeal to a wide array of players in the legal tech space through a multifaceted approach to conferencing. The Festival brings together like-minded individuals to lead idea-focused conversations and further innovation. Join the community here.

It is important and beneficial to be a member of any of the communities as even the African proverb says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

The Workchop Conversations with Damilola Ajiboye : Product Manager at DIYlaw Nigeria

The Workchop Conversations is an ongoing series of conversations with different players in both the legal tech & justice tech space, sharing about their work and innovative role within the space, promoting access to justice in Africa.

This week, we have Damilola Ajiboye, Product Manager at DIYlaw. Damilola is an avid learner and a technology enthusiast. In the past, he had tried his hands on different things like Digital Marketing, Web design, and development, and fashion blogging. Currently, he finds himself always excited about using technology to solve user’s pain points hence his passion for product management. At DIYlaw, he manages the company’s products by working with customers and team members to improve on already existing product offerings and introduce new products that address user’s vulnerabilities.

Tell us, what’s your typical workday like?

I start the day by checking emails (To see if I’m not serving as a bottleneck to any process) and attend to them as a matter of priority, I then check the product backlog and track progress, Monitor key metrics, NPS, and compare with same weekday of the previous week, I check the product roadmap to see if there are initiatives/timelines that need adjustment, wrap up the day by reading Industry news from Google Alerts.

Tell us about the products/services you manage at DIYlaw.

I manage DIY Registrations, DIY Documents, DIY Engage, DIY Resources, and some products in the pipeline.

What apps, gadgets or tools have you been relying on to work and how do you use them?

The apps I use are Slack for Communication, GSuite for Team Collaboration, Jira for Project Management and Roadmapping, Figma for Design and Prototyping, Google Analytics for Data Analytics, and Delighted for Net Promoter Score. 

What are you currently reading, watching or listening to?

I listen to NPR’s How I Built This Podcast by Guy Raz. It’s a podcast on how entrepreneurs (startup founders) painstakingly built their businesses from the ground up. It’s an amazing show. 

Who would you like to answer these questions?

I nominate Oluwatosin Amusan.