July 14, 2023
Q&A(I) With The CEO
Chatbot: So… Contractbook goes AI?
Niels: Yes. We’re really excited to announce that we’ve integrated with OpenAI to deliver the first out of many AI-driven features.
Chatbot: 10 years after everyone else?
Niels: Ha ha. 10 years after everyone launched their mechanical turks or tried to jump the AI hype-train with their simple machine-learning algorithms, yes.
Chatbot: Touché. Why now?
Niels: It’s obvious to everyone that we’ve seen massive developments in artificial intelligence in the past 9 months. We always knew that artificial intelligence would eventually be a central component of contract management, but the technology wasn’t mature enough to make a real difference until now. That’s why we focused on the basics.
Chatbot: What do you mean by the basics?
Niels: Data! You need structured data to leverage AI technologies. That’s why we declared Death to PDF. It was great in protecting content and preserving a printable design. However, PDF contracts keep all the valuable data in our contracts locked and inaccessible to other systems.
With Contractbook, you turn static contracts into a database for your entire organization, unlocking the full value of your data. Our dynamic contracts make data structured, accessible, and actionable which is a prerequisite for AI.
As I wrote in a previous rant on boomer tech, our goal was to bridge the gap between a manual present and smart future.
Chatbot: Couldn’t you build AI simultaneously?
Niels: We could, but it didn’t make any sense. When we raised a seed round with Google’s AI-fund, Gradient Ventures, in 2019, it became clear for us that it would come. However, we also saw that it would be ridiculous and a bit arrogant to believe that we could compete with the likes of Google or Microsoft to make it. So instead, we decided to build the most user-friendly product based on the right data format and then automate as much as we could with simple digital technologies.
Now, we’ve spent a weekend’s hackathon building something that took some competitors ten years, hundreds of developers and millions of dollars to develop.
Chatbot: Now you have it. What have you build?
Niels: The first thing we’ve built is a new AI Import that makes it much easier to upload existing legacy contracts and extract important data fields. Too many companies have their contracts scattered all over the place. With this new AI import, you can effortlessly upload your contracts to Contractbook to get a cohesive end-to-end flow. The AI then extracts and labels all the relevant data in your contracts, so you get more insights about contract content such as expiry dates, value renewals and so on, so you’re always on top of what’s next.
That said, this AI feature is just the first out of many that we roll out over the coming months.
Chatbot: What’s the vision with this? What are you trying to achieve?
Niels: We’re just trying to make something useful and inclusive. Our goal has always been to make everyone feel empowered and comfortable working with contracts. Contracts are too important to be guarded by a narrow group of trained lawyers, anyone should feel like a legal professional when working with contracts.
Our job is just to make contract management as easy and straightforward as possible. That is very important for me to stress. We don’t want to overcomplicate things. That has been the problem with a lot of contract management products. They’ve built feature-heavy products and bad UI in their eagerness to seem technologically advanced and in that process confused the end-user and made contracts even more inaccessible.
Chatbot: What are we waiting for then?
Niels: We’re waiting for feedback. We’re working closely with some of our users to iterate and build something that really makes a difference. Truly powerful technologies are simple and easy to use. The best AI products are made in a way that empowers normal people in a way they don’t even realize it. That takes time to design and build.
Chatbot: Who are these users? Who are you building this for?
Niels: Not for lawyers.
Chatbot: What do you mean?
Niels: I have nothing against lawyers. I think they should use Contractbook in everything they do. However, I think it’s a bit unfortunate that so much legal technology is built for lawyers. I’d rather make something for the legal consumer, the end user. It shouldn’t be about maximizing profits for legal professionals. It’s about making contract work fundamentally easier and more accessible for normal people.
Chatbot: Legal tech to the 99 %
Niels: Exactly! Legal tech for the people!
And for operations teams especially! They’re the ones that benefits the most from getting a central place for all contracts and the scalable, automated contract processes.
Chatbot: Got it. So finally. What are you going to call this?
Niels: Contract management. Modern contract management.
Chatbot: Stop generating
It’s that simp…
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