Hence Technologies, a Kigali- and London-based startup that uses data and AI to match companies with external legal service providers is set to scale its precision-matching engine after raising $1.8 million in seed funding from various institutions and angel investors. This brings the total amount raised by the startup, so far, to $2.6 million.
The startup, which was founded in 2020, uses data from various sources to match the internal legal teams of its client companies with external legal service providers — which gives it the ability to recommend lawyers based on the nature of the assignment, location and cost considerations.
“Navigating the external options and figuring out who might be good — given a company’s needs, price points and all sorts of things — is actually really hard. And most of the solutions that exist are kind of marketplace solutions that really want a transaction to occur. But what if you don’t need people to buy? What if you’re just trying to help people understand what works for them? We dug specifically into that area and built a product that is helping people find the right lawyers; really a starting place for their needs,” Hence co-founder Steve Heitkamp told TechCrunch.
The startup was validated after a successful pilot involving a U.S.-based investing firm and an insurance company in London. For its next stage of growth, it is targeting even larger corporations with bigger legal expenditure budgets and needs.
“We are working with large companies because they are effectively a self-contained marketplace, they have already worked with many lawyers and law firms,” said Heitkamp, who co-founded the startup with Sean West and Arun Shanmuganathan. The startup’s team mainly operates from Kigali, Rwanda, one of the well-known tech hubs in Africa.
Heitkamp said that to ensure precise matching, they’ve had to integrate data (including qualitative) from different places, including from clients’ billing systems, to build recommendation systems that help companies in decision making.
“Very limited information and data is used to make decisions on who to hire. And we felt like the companies were missing out on an opportunity to leverage data even from their own experiences. If a company is spending $200 million a year, then there is an opportunity to understand a lot of different things like what’s working well and what’s not,” said Heitkamp.
Investors that took part in the round include Daybreak Partners, Broad Creek Capital (a global private investment partnership started by two former lawyers Matthew Ruesch and Michael W. Green), Daglar Cizmeci and a number of other angel investors.
“We plan to use the funding to grow our team, especially the technical talent, with some more spending on marketing. We’ve already brought on someone who has a marketing background and has experience working with law firms,” said Heitkamp.
Hence is part of the first cohort of Palantir’s Foundry for Builders, which allows them to “work with sensitive data in an accredited environment.”
Daybreak Partners founder Nate Dalton said, “…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.”