Avvoka | Startup In Focus
Helping businesses close deals in record time
Our Startup In Focus series takes a look at the founders behind the startups, as they offer insight into their business and their journey to current day. There is a short video interview followed by a more in depth text interview below. Hope you enjoy it and do leave any comments below.
We spoke with David Howorth from Avvoka to learn more about what he’s learnt from his journey of starting and running a B2B startup.
Hi David, first up can you give me a bit of background to yourself & your co founder?
I have a legal background, having studied law at university before working as a solicitor at Linklaters. My co-founder, Eliot, has a very similar background, and we actually met on an open day at Slaughter & May (7 or 8 years ago now!), where he went on to work. We left our jobs in March 2016 to work full time on Avvoka.
What is Avvoka?
Avvoka is a contract creation, negotiation and analytics tool — think Google Docs, but for contracts. It allows businesses to stop trading Word drafts via email, to reach agreement, and e-signature, faster. The platform also has a range of analytics tools allowing users to monitor negotiation patterns, spot clause variations and extract commercial data across legal documents.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since starting Avvoka?
Our biggest challenge is convincing people to move away from their comfort zone of contracting using Microsoft Word, and then trading drafts (in track changes) via email. As people become more familiar with collaboration products such as Google Docs in the future, this should present less of an issue.
How are you overcoming this challenge?
The best way to overcome this issue, is to really show the benefits that a product like ours brings. It is only though seeing how the contracting process works using Avvoka, that people begin to really see the shortcomings in the existing process (Word document, emails etc.) and can see the potential for change.
Startups are full of ups and downs, what gets you through those downs?
It’s important to keep the end goal in mind. We know we’re doing something that’s difficult, and it won’t happen overnight. So it’s important that we remember to celebrate the small victories!
What have been your biggest achievements since you launched your business?
I think out biggest achievements to date would have to be our client wins. It’s validation that you’ve built a product that is solving a real world problem.
What has been the biggest thing your customers have taught you?
Our clients have really helped shape the product. You can think you’ve designed the most intuitive feature, but it’s only through feedback and customer use, that you really find the best solutions.
How did you find your first full time employee?
We hired our first full time employee, Sam, though simply posting a job advert online. I’d definitely encourage this approach at the start, before engaging any recruitment companies.
What advice would you give any B2B startup founders just starting out?
Don’t hold back on starting the sales process because you think your product might not be ready in time. B2B sales cycles can be incredibly slow, so factor this in to your product roadmap/sales targets.
What’s next for Avvoka?
On the commercial side of things — we’re going to continue to move into new verticals and validate the ‘sector agnostic’ nature of our solution. With the product — the plan is to explore how we can effectively use exciting technologies such as blockchain and AI.
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