Apr 2, 2021
Episode 27 of the Legal Tech StartUp Focus Podcast -- Interview with Tom Dunlop and Dave Smith of Summize
Charlie Uniman, host of the Legal Tech StartUp Focus Podcast (www.legaltechstartupfocus.com/podcast), welcomes to this episode two co-founders of UK-based legal tech startup Summize (www.summize.com): Tom Dunlop, Chief Executive Officer, and Dave Smith, Chief Development Officer. Among just one of its several contract-related solutions, and as described on its website: "Summize is a lightweight assistant to the contract lifecycle. Upload any contract and the platform creates an instant, easy-to-read summary."
The podcast kicks off with Tom and Dave talking about the career paths that brought them together to co-found Summize. Speaking of his own career path, Tom says that he started out as a private law firm lawyer in the UK and from there moved into in-house GC roles at tech company scale-ups. As Tom puts it, his role as a tech company GC enabled him to see business innovation first hand, but that role also exposed him to the frustrations that lawyers face in dealing with the inefficiencies in their day-to-day work.
Those frustrations resulted in Tom's exploring software solutions that could mitigate those inefficiencies, his meeting Dave and their co-founding Summize. As Dave explains, he brought his 30 years of software development experience to bear in co-founding Summize. One of the questions that Dave entertains from Charlie is whether Dave believes that developing software for lawyers differs from developing software for other types of business users.
Tom and Dave next describe just what Summize's software offerings do. Its original product offering was the "instant" creation of contract summaries. As that offering operates today, law firms and in-house departments can augment their Microsoft Office 365 experience with a plug-in that Summize built to generate these summaries directly in Microsoft Word and can also obtain those summaries by querying their contracts through plug-ins for Slack and Microsoft Teams as well.
Summize assists private practice and in-house lawyers in, among other things, creating contracts, assessing the conformity of contracts with a firm's or enterprise's contract playbooks and contract precedent banks, and understanding contract definitions and other clauses. According to Tom and Dave, all of Summize's contract analytics offerings emphasize ease of use, short time-to-value and a modular approach that enables Summize's software to "play well" with other vendors' contracts software. In fact, one of Summize's chief aims is to have its post-signing offerings enhance a customer's use of that customers's other, existing, contract management tools.
The final segment of the podcast has Tom and Dave offering "words of wisdom" when it comes to legal tech startup management. Here Tom describes Summize's successful efforts at content marketing and its use-case based method for customer onboarding. Charlie, Tom and Dave conclude the podcast with a discussion of what aspect of startup management Tom and Dave are most proud of to date (hint: that aspect involves the growth and maintenance of a company culture that is both customer-centric and committed to continuous product improvement).