Talking Legal Ops Software With Jodie Baker, CEO of Xakia

In what started as a research project in 2015, Jodie Baker was asking in-house legal teams one question: what irks you the most in your job?

And the answer was pretty consistent: "I have to do manual reporting, but I don't really know what my team is working on. That when somebody leaves, I don't know how I capture all of that IP."

Fast forward to 2017, Jodie and her team at Xakia now count over 30 in-house legal teams as clients, across Australia, Singapore and the US including some big names like Virgin Australia, Boral and Transurban.

We sat down to talk about her journey so far...

 

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Well, hi everyone. Thanks for tuning in. Today, we've got the pleasure of being joined by Jodie Baker who is the Founder and CEO of Xakia. She joins us today. She's going to talk about what she's trying to do at the moment with the platform and where she's headed in the future. Just to kick us off Jodie, on the website, Xakia is described as, “corporate legal operations software”. That's what is on the website. What's your pitch?

Jodie Baker: Well, corporate legal operation software is right. It's equivalent to say, a practice management system for law firms, but purpose built for in-house teams. The idea of that really is that we want to arm in-house teams and particularly, the lawyers and the GC's with the ability to see, have improved visibility across the team about who is doing what and for whom. Really, that visibility is lacking at the moment and by arming them with a very, very simple tool, what we want to do is automated a whole load of things that otherwise might be quite manual in terms of creating to-do lists or creating manual Word documents or Excel spreadsheets, to report to each other about what they're working.

Yeah, nice. Well, we'll definitely get into the nuts and bolts on what Xakia exactly does, but maybe just stepping back a little bit, you also founded a law firm not that long ago. A new law firm called Hive Legal and I guess you weren't quite ... I don't know. Is that not enough of a challenge for you? Step us back, what tempted you to go from setting up a new business, a law firm, and then getting into the technology business?

In late 2015, we ran a research project or I ran a research project whilst I was at Hive and the idea of that project was really just to speak to as many GC's as we could to understand what tools were missing from their suite of products. Really, the research project involved one question, which was, what irks you the most in your job? What are the biggest time wasters? The answer was pretty consistent and that is that, "I have to do manual reporting, but I don't really know what my team is working on. That when somebody leaves, I don't know how I capture all of that IP."

Those answers were really the genesis of starting to put together a project and we put together a little prototype while we were at Hive. Had some clients on that prototype. Had a great response to it, but it didn't really belong inside a law firm. It needed to attract a little bit more funding to be built properly, so we spun it out and Hive was up and running and still going strong, but this was the next project. I do like a new project.

Yeah. When was that?

This spin out was on the first of July last year.

July last year?

2016.

Okay. Getting towards about 18 months into it.

Yes.

How is it all going?

Well, it's just over a year since we launched the software in its current form. It's going really well. We launched it at the ACC Conference in Australia in November 2016. Just on a year now and we have about 25 to 30 clients on the system both here and in the US and also one in Singapore, which is fantastic.

Great.

The take up has been really good. It's busy.

25 clients. Are you allowed to say which clients are currently using it at the moment?

Yeah. There's some testimonials on our website and I think the testimonials will show Virgin Australia, Boral, Transurban, Vocus. There's about eight testimonials on there.

I guess, the big end of town mostly.

Yeah, so our smallest client actually was a one person legal team who I spoke to last week and was telling me about how it had been a life saver for her and given her a little bit more order and control over what she was doing. She's now got responsibility for more people and so that one person has turned into four people, but still our smallest team on the system. We have teams right up to 50 and speaking to teams much, much larger than that.

Great. What were those teams using prior to Xakia? What are they using at the moment and why is Xakia better?

We do say that our greatest competitor is the Excel spreadsheet, which is a fairly typical tool for most teams to understand what they're doing and creating any sort of data analytics. Of course, it becomes quite manual after you capture the information and even the capturing can be quite manual in terms of drawing that data into charts, tables, any sort of digestible format. One of my quick quips I guess is that I used to be a lawyer, but I became a financial analyst and I'm married to a CFO and I do understand ...

Right, they like data.

Well, I understand that lawyers talk in beautiful words, but the rest of the world talks in charts and numbers and so an Excel spreadsheet is fine, but if you don't know how to manipulate the data to get what you need, sometimes it can be a little bit cumbersome and even painful. Excel spreadsheet is really what people are using at the moment and more often than not nothing, to be honest.

Okay. Can you talk us through, I guess, a use case, a typical use case of how an in-house lawyer might take a matter right through your platform from woe to go?

The initial screen that we use is just a very quick data capture around name of the matter, who is working on it, who it's for, and what sort of work it is. Once you've captured that information, that then filters through to a matters list, so that creates the visibility piece, which can be sorted and filtered and exported however you like. That visibility piece is really the first benefit out of the system. Once all of that data has been captured and you can then maintain the matters from that matters list in terms of status updates and what have you, it then feeds through to beautiful dashboards and reports.

Actually, now that our clients ... Most of our clients have been on the system for six months or more, we're now at the point where we're wandering around. I've just been off to see one of my clients just before our discussion and showing them some of the reporting functionality and the eyes pop when they realise that instead of spending a day generating the reports each month, they can click and button.

Yeah, cool.

That's the nice piece that comes at the end.

Well, speaking of spending, how much are teams paying for your software?

Yes. It's a SaaS product, so Software as a Service, which means that you pay on per user, per month basis. 55 dollars per user per month.

Okay.

That then scales up to 88 dollars per user, per month where people want to use it for external fee management and also for our Xakiage function, which is going to released next week.

Xakiage. Can you talk us through what Xakiage is going to be?

Xakiage. Xakiage is a play on the word 'triage' and it's essentially the ability ... It's a ticketing system, so it's the ability for the business to send instructions ...

Ah, I see, yes.

... To the legal team through this portal, which obviously then creates a matter. It can then be put into a bucket for all the lawyers to pick up those matters or it can be directed to a specific matter.

Yeah, great. Okay, well that relates to ... I've spoken to a couple of in-house lawyers that use JIRA, which is a ticketing system. It looks like you got this product coming into take care of the ticketing process.

Yes, absolutely. Certainly, one of the biggest pieces of feedback that we have had has been that that's a big hole for a lot of lawyers is that they just receive things into their inbox and that that can be random in terms of it might come to you or it might come to me or it might come to somebody else and then it has to be moved around. Some in-house teams have a document repository. Some have nothing. Then there's no record of that. There's no workflow. It's very important that you've got some sense of where the business goes, how that then flows through to the lawyers, and then how does data analytics capture that.

Good, good. Can we talk a few numbers if that's okay?

Of course.

Let me know if this is too sensitive, but in terms of, I guess, funding, staff. You've talked about how many clients you've got at the moment, so about 25 or so you mentioned?

Yeah, how are you getting on with funding? Are you boot-strapping? Profitable?

Yeah. A bit of everything.

A bit of everything? Yeah.

The funding was originally five Shareholders, we’ve since taken on sixth shareholder, relatively boot-strapped for the first 12 months. Then we've taken another round of funding from our newest shareholder and the existing shareholders, which has allowed us to keep going and keep growing because we are generating revenue and we have got quite a good client take up that has allowed us to grow quite well. We're just about to do another round and again, mostly just from our existing shareholders and a few others who are expressing interest in perhaps strategic shareholders.

Is that funding going into more of a product build or expanding the team? I guess my next topic was going to be your US expansion, which is, I guess just happened?

There's two things that we want to spend the money on at the moment. One is development. We've got a very full pipeline or roadmap of things that we want to do, so we're very focused on that. Brett Graves is our Development Manager and he's got a very clear sense of where he wants to take the development team, so that's a core focus for us and then sales and marketing. Actually, spreading the word.

Growing.

Making sure that we're touching on all of the right people and places in terms of our message and making sure that people understand that this is a tool that this built for small teams as well as larger teams and that's obviously a different type of marketing to legal technologies in the past have been very sales oriented because they target the big teams whereas we have built something that we feel passionately should be available to all teams. We have a very different sales and marketing strategy, so we would like to build out people with the expertise in digital marketing and sales processes for that sort of audience.

Yeah. Awesome. Then the US.

In the US, yes. We launched in the US at the ACC Conference in Washington DC in October. Anne Post is our Senior VP for USA.

Right.

She is based in the US and so she has spent the last four or five months getting herself up to speed with Xakia and getting that all ready to go and launched there. We've got just on 10 clients there I think now.

Yeah, great.

That's expanding quite quickly.

Fantastic.

Yeah. We had a great take up from ACC Conference and another about 20 or so who are certainly interested in going through the process of investigating.

United Kingdom next?

Possibly. I would like to get a little bit more sleep before we take on that strategy.

Two time zones is enough for now.

That might be enough for now. Two startups in five years and two time zones might be about as much as I can manage in that time frame.

Yeah, great. Look, amazing to talk to you and congratulations on the great success you've had. Thanks for tuning in everyone. We'll come through with more updates from time to time about some amazing tech entrepreneurs particularly in the legal space. Lots of things happening, so thanks again. We'll speak to you soon. Cool. Done.

Done. Excellent.

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