Avvoka is a contract creation, workflow and analytics tool. They help companies close deals in record time by enabling businesses to automatically create, e-sign and store contracts online. Avvoka were part of the first batch of startups that joined Momentum back in 2016. Since then they have gone on to work with a number of large corporates including Allen & Overy after landing a spot in their tech innovation space, Fuse.
Earlier this year, Startup Van, a popular online show which interviews startup founders, interviewed David Howorth, one of the founders of Avvoka. They discussed the relationship between Corporates and Startups and what challenges that brings as well as how it can be improved. You can view the full video below. We have also noted some key discussion points below the video. Enjoy!
As promised some key discussion points:
Trust - this is a key factor in building a successful relationship with a corporate. The decision maker at the corporate are selling you into their team and so they are taking the risk to back you internally. There is an old saying in corporates, no one ever lost their job procuring IBM or Microsoft products!
In fact we held a corporate innovation panel last year where the CIO of Collinson Group said he’d rather have a startup be honest and set the right expectations with him as to the stage their product is rather than find out further down the line where it can cost him his job or at least ruin his reputation. He’d much rather support and nurture the startup as a partner.
Don’t panic - it can take time to get through internal processes so don’t drive yourself crazy if it takes longer than you hope or don’t hear back immediately. It doesn’t always mean it’s bad news it may just be they are pushing this through the internal process.
Cashflow - startups can live and die in the time it takes for a corporate to make a decision, sign a contract or finally pay the money. More and more corporates are trying to put frameworks into place to speed up procurement, payments, contracts and more. Currently it’s often many false stages of hope. The yeah we like what you do, then yes we can find budget, then yes we’ll do a pilot and it goes on. Each part of the process takes time and comes with it’s challenges.
Security - proving that your solution is secure and capable of handling their data is super important. Sometimes convincing IT can be a hassle as they are used to dealing with the Microsoft’s of the world. You’ll get a 40/50 page document where half of the questions or requirements seem over kill or not relevant but that is the legacy process that has been developed over years. Again it adds time and potentially can kill a deal, which if you’re 6 months into the sales cycle can kill the startup as a lot of time and resource has been spent for no return. That is the risk. But corporates have to de-risk themselves as they can be dealing with a lot of very sensitive data. Most data leaks come through a companies supply chain and partners so you can see why.
Legals - even as a startup with a background in legals they are going up against legal teams who have done contracts and negotiations day in and day out for years. If a corporate doesn’t want to use your contract they have the power and typically want to use their contracts which are most likely 50+ pages of bloated terms that your small startup has to review and amend if necessary. The legal costs alone can out strip the pilot fee or contract fee. Or at least a decent chunk. Sometimes it can also lead to agreeing to less favourable terms.
Changes - things are starting to change. T&Cs, contracts etc are being slimmed down to better suit working with smaller companies. At Momentum we recently had GSK give a case study on how they have done that really well. The C Level executives in the room (and startups) were very impressed, especially since GSK is a very big, old company in a typically slow moving industry. Hopefully the more this is happening and showcased publicly the more take up by other companies.
The good thing is that when you do get a corporate customer, it provides a good stream of cash-flow for the length of the contract. Their is less churn with enterprise sales. Avvoka are in no rush to raise around. They are aiming to sign 10 household names as clients in the near future and then hopefully look to expand abroad and think about funding.
You can learn more about Avvoka here: https://avvoka.com/
You can learn more about Momentum Startups here: https://www.momentumlondon.com/