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Hence raises $1.8 million in its seed funding round; eyes major expansion

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Hence Technologies, a Kigali-based startup that uses artificial intelligence to link those who need legal services to legal service providers, has raised $1.8 million in its seed finding round.

The seed funding round had participations from investors like Daybreak Partners, Broad Creek Capital – a global private investment partnership founded by two former lawyers (Matthew Ruesch and Michael W. Green), Daglar Cizmeci, as well as a host of other angel investors.

With this funds, which makes it $2.6m that the company has raised, Hence plans to put in more work, and improve the accurate of its legal matching algorithm.

Hence Technologies was founded in 2020 by Steve Heitkamp, Sean West, and Arun Shanmuganathan. The company matches internal legal teams of its clients with external legal service providers using data from a variety of sources, allowing it to propose lawyers depending on the nature of the assignment, geography, and cost factors.

Prior to founding Hence Technologies, Heitkamp worked at the innovative data analytics company, Palantir. West has extensive experience advising the CEOs on risk, while Shanmuganathan previously worked in the computer science faculty at the African Leadership University.

The co-founders realized that many corporations do not have a system for collation and analysis of their previous legal experiences, thereby spending lots of money on consultations with big law firms on legal decisions and relationship with law practitioners.

“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,” Heitkamp said.

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,” Heitkamp added.

Read also: Kenya’s 4G Capital to create improved loan facility for SMEs after closing $18.5m Series C funding round

Speaking on the fundraise, Nate Dalton of Daybreak Partners, said:

“I have seen the incredibly inefficient market for legal services from many sides, having been an outside lawyer, GC of an acquisitive highly regulated public company, and the executive to whom the GC reports. 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.”

Matthew Ruesch, Co-founder Broad Creek Capital, also commented on the fundraise:

As a former lawyer and current private equity investor, I know how slowly the legal industry has been leveraging data and technology to improve efficiency. Especially relative to other sectors. The opportunity to invest in a disruptive solution to performance optimization in the legal industry at such an early stage is incredibly exciting.”

Hence noted that the funds raised would be used to expand the team its team, with focus on technical talents. The startup would also increase its marketing budget, and expand its net to include larger law firms.

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When I'm not reading about tech, I'm writing about it, or thinking about the next weird food combinations to try. I do all these with my headphones plugged in, and a sticky note on my computer with the words: "The galaxy needs saving, Star Lord."
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