SeedLegals — Making funding rounds simpler for founders and investors
A case study demonstrating my thought process and design skills
In this case study, I hope to show you:
- How I make business and design trade-offs
- How I handle user feedback
- Project 1: New onboarding experience
- Some of my other mockups
SeedLegals was founded by serial entrepreneur Anthony Rose and serial investor Laurent Laffy who met at a party in Rome. They both had enough of paying lawyers insane amounts of money for the same agreements at every funding round, and decided to change it.
On July 17, 2017, Seedlegals raised £1M in a seed round (on their own platform, of course). One of the first things they did was hire a UX Designer — me. The goal was to automate transactions, launch new features and scale.
1. Automate transactions
SeedLegals had the perfect market fit and a working platform, but lacked a functional UI.
Users relied heavily on customer support to do basic tasks. The revenue stream was unreliable due to each payment being handled manually.
My first task was to design a new workflow and pricing page for their core product—Funding Rounds.
The immediate impact was less customer reliance and a new, automated revenue stream.
Just a day after launching the new pricing page, 9 users signed up for the subscription plan.
Anthony was stoked to see transactions coming in automatically!
2. Launch new products
Once we had a winning workflow, it was time to release new products.
In the following months, we launched the additional Bootstrap and VC rounds, SEIS Assurance, SeedFAST and Instant Investment—each with a similar but unique workflow.
3. Scale the business
As founders got more accustomed to the platform, we wanted to bring in other stakeholders who could benefit from our service—namely investors.
Unlike founders, investors had little patience in learning how to use the platform.
We had to make it clear right from the start what investors can do on the platform, in a few easy steps.
Most investors were invited to the platform for the first time to sign legal agreements, so we started there.
A redesigned Share & Sign panel allows founders to share legal agreements while keeping track of signatures.
Once investors sign in, they immediately see which documents need their attention. No time wasted!
As more users joined the platform, we needed a better way to identify them. To achieve this, we set up a simple survey after people signed up.
This survey not only provided useful data for Sales to follow up on valuable prospects, it also helped Marketing target users and reinforce relevant benefits — a big win for everyone!
For more details, jump to New Onboarding Experience.
Trade-offs between business and design^
Having exited two startups in the past, CEO Anthony Rose really knows how to run a business. His ability to prioritise revenue and business development is admirable.
And here’s what I’ve learnt:
1. Business before UX
Even though design has a huge impact on shaping the product, the bottom line is still business. Revenue was important for sustaining growth and keeping board members happy.
Ultimately, balancing business and design was critical for making any kind of long-lasting impact. One of the most challenging things for me was learning to let go of legacy artifacts and “poor design” on the existing platform.
2. Always think progress, not improvements
At least 30% of my designs were never used, and the reason was simple — low ROI.
To get buy-in from my boss, I had to focus on high ROI projects.
Every time I tackled a problem, I had to ask myself “which features would bring maximum return to the business?”
3. Quick fixes—sometimes
Being pragmatic is essential for dealing with stakeholders. When they’re expecting a solution within days, sometimes you just have to compromise on taste.
Example of quick fix
One time, Anthony complained about users unable to create new documents. So I designed an entire workflow for users to browse and create documents.
It seemed like the perfect solution. But Anthony rejected it.
Instead, the only thing we implemented was a simple dropdown that redirected users to the correct pages.
Yes—I could have argued that this wasn’t an elegant solution, and that users would become disorientated for a lack of clear workflow.
But at the time, this quick fix was a better solution.
It solved the most pressing problem while keeping developmental cost to a minimum.
4. Think BIG, work small
Often times—when designing a solution—it’s good to envision the future and dial it back a little.
Thinking ahead helps you keep the bigger picture in mind. So while small changes are being made, the business can always scale when the timing is right.
The Ultimate Goal: Striving for excellence
As a UX designer, I’m constantly striving for the best product experience possible. Sometimes, this means making short term sacrifices.
By paying attention to business needs and team dynamics, I ensure that good design sense spreads throughout the organisation and makes a lasting impact.
Handling user feedback^
Even though I rarely speak with users, I spend a lot of effort identifying user pain points through secondary sources.
Three of my associates (including the CEO) do video calls with clients on a daily basis. These include product demos and customer support calls.
Having spent hours at a time interacting with clients, my colleagues generally have a very good understanding of the problems users are facing.
Talking to my colleagues and finding out their difficulties with clients is a great way to discover insights into larger issues.
In addition to video calls, we get a ton of customer incomings on Intercom.
From the conversations between users and my colleagues, I get a lot of insights into problems users are facing on our platform.
Thank teammates in stand-ups
Feedback shouldn’t be taken for granted.
I like to show appreciation to teammates for providing quality feedback and attribute success as often as possible.
One time in a stand-up, Jon said “Thanks.” You could tell how much he appreciated being praised in front of the whole team.
Not only do you make your teammates feel great for being a part of the product development process, you increase the chances of receiving feedback in the future.
Evoke feedback in meetings
Sometimes it’s better for people to respond to something than for you to ask directly.
I’ve brought personas into meeting and got my colleagues to talk about them. That works really well.
I’ve shared paper with my colleagues so they can sketch out their ideas.
Of course, you can reply on showing prototypes to give off the most realistic impression of the product.
Don’t be a rigid-research-robot
User research should be a continuous “feel” for things.
Don’t just bumped into your colleagues every time you need feedback. Mix up your approaches.
Have a casual chat during snack time or at the end of a meeting. Ask about their struggles during team lunches or when they’re making coffee.
Working with developers on Github
Developers are craaaaaazzy busy.
Sometimes the best way to work with developers is to dive into their ecosystem.
At SeedLegals, we use Github to track our backlog.
If a significant UX problem is discovered, it gets created as a ticket and is assigned to me.
Once the new design is approved, the ticket is assigned to the Dev team for further action.
Remarkably, our developers respond much quicker on Github than any other channel!
Arriving at a solution
New designs are finalised by the CEO and sent off to the CTO for development.
As my CEO loves to “throw out solutions”, it’s extremely important that I evaluate problems carefully and nail down the precise problem—before jumping into a solution.
The CTO will usually say “no” to a bunch of things and we’ll make suitable trade-offs.
Most of the time, solutions are communicated through Zeplin. But occasionally, I provide an Axure Prototype when the workflows or interactions are more complex.
New Onboarding Experience^
As our user base kept growing, we needed a more granular approach for dealing with customers.
In particular, two problems arising from Marketing and Sales prompted this project.
Problem 1 (Marketing): Engaging with relevant content
- Marketing needed a reliable way to identify the role and experience level of users
- Is the user a founder or an investor?
- If a founder, has he done a funding round before?
- What kind of content should we email them?
Problem 2 (Sales): Catering to valuable prospects
- Sales needed a reliable way to identify high-value prospects
- Is the founder doing a funding round soon?
- Is he clear about what he wants?
- How much is he raising?
With help from my colleagues, I identified three types of founders that interact with our sales team:
John’s are founders of very-early-stage startups who have not yet launched their product. Their main goal is to find out more about SeedLegals.
This group comprises about 40% of leads. Their conversion is very low and usually only buy our Base Plan.
Paul’s are founders of early-stage startups who have a solid team and product, and plan to raise funding soon.
This group comprises about 55% of leads. Their conversion is quite high and we can often sell them pre-round products like SEIS Assurance.
Anthony’s are veterans of the startup community. They’ve probably started a couple of businesses before and are extremely knowledgeable about funding rounds.
This group comprises about 5% of leads. Their conversion is very high and they will often buy our core Funding Round product with minimal guidance.
The goals was to prioritise these three types of founders in our CRM system, so Marketing and Sales can proactively engage with them.
We want the onboarding to be warm and inviting — the same way you’d show a guest around your house — and, amidst all of this, collect data that will let us better serve those customers that truly matter to the business.
(Full brief: https://goo.gl/mdnL6q)
- Show customers we care about them
- Personalise their onboarding experience via email, char, in-app and phone call
- Better allocate resources to high-value prospects
- Educate user about our benefits
- Get users to clarify they own needs, plus we can follow up better
- Getting users up to speed on their initial tasks
- Filling up their dashboard
The Questions (founders only)
Let take a look at how Anthony, our veteran founder would navigate through the questions.
You can try out the prototype here: https://invis.io/5HJFU0DGJV7
Q1: What brings you here?
We find out the role of the user.
*Blurred dashboard in the background provides incentive to complete the survey!
Q2: What would you like to do?
Users choose the products they’re interested in. This gives us a clue to which stage of the fundraising process they’re in.
*Grey section at the bottom shows their progress.
Q3: Have you done a funding round before?
This questions is simple. But it tells us their experience level and the kind of content we should send them via email.
Q4: When will you start your next round?
The sooner prospects are planning to do a round, the more valuable they are to us.
And so Sales should follow up accordingly.
Q5: How much are you planning to raise?
In general, the more money they’re raising, the more valuable they are to us. This is also a good time for founders to clarify their goals.
*We intentionally set higher raise amounts to convey strength and confidence in our platform.
Q6: How did you hear about us?
Finally, we want to know how users heard of us, which will help us improve our marketing strategy.
A minor celebration rewards users for completing the survey!
Try out the prototype yourself!
All the possible routes for the survey.
Alas, there are many imaginary projects or fantasies that were not realised but which, I think, would improve the overall outcome of our product.
I’d like to express my opinions here.
An emphasis on better copy
Copy has such a powerful effect on the overall user experience.
I felt that a lot of the in-app text was excessively long and didn’t serve its purpose of nudging the user onto the next step.
I also felt that some of it, particularly the product descriptions, were quite boring. They should be orientated more towards benefits instead of features.
Giving the platform a dedicated personality
This goes off the same point about copy. I felt the CEO should not have dictated the voice of the copy.
I would have chosen Rob, our customer support, to be our brand persona. Basically, this means our customers have personas and we have one too.
As an example, our brand voice could be:
- Clear — because we’re dealing with a complicated subject.
- Friendly — because we’re always here to help.
- Understanding and forgiving — because people are prone to making mistakes.
Following a design-lead product development cycle
CTO enjoyed planning
Providing vision is my designs
Sometimes, people just don’t look that far ahead. Use my Axure prototype to help our team envision what our platform could look like months into the future.
For example, migrate the Step-by-Step guide in the Side Nav to a Dashboard widget.
Like what you see? We could be working together.
Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Because they didn’t make it.
BEFORE and AFTER
A full remake of the website. Read the case study.