Anthony Rose is co-founder and CEO at SeedLegals, a legaltech platform that lets startups and investors complete the legals needed to build, grow and fund their business, at a fraction of the cost of using a law firm. More than one in six of all early-stage funding rounds in the UK are now done on SeedLegals.
In 2015 Anthony founded 6Tribes, a world of communities based on shared interests. Previously, Anthony co-founded Beamly, a social and content network for television, which was acquired by Coty in 2015.
Known as “The man behind BBC iPlayer”, Anthony ran the iPlayer and other BBC services from 2007 to 2010, taking the iPlayer from pre-launch to major success story.
Learn more about SeedLegals:
Anthony contributed to our recent Transaction Management eBook. You can read his insights on how data will drive deal terms in the future by downloading the book here.
In this Transaction Management episode of Shieldcast, Anthony and Geoff discuss:
Geoff: On today's show, we welcome Anthony Rose, founder and CEO of SeedLegals. Welcome Anthony.
Anthony: Hello. Thanks for having me.
Geoff: So Anthony built the BBC iPlayer, has three start-ups under his belt and his career has included 3-D graphics, P-to-P music, internet, video, social, TV, and online communities. Yet today, we're talking about legal tech, transaction management and your latest venture, SeedLegals.
Anthony, you may not remember, but we first met just over four years ago when you were developing SeedLegals. At the time I was working as a legal consultant and I remember leaving that meeting thinking, well, that's the business that I want to create - or at least something similar. I'm kind of glad I didn't, because you've, you've demonstrated flawless execution of SeedLegals today. So, well done to that and I looked forward to our conversations around SeedLegals and particularly around how you've since disintegrated lawyers from the transaction management process.
So to begin with, and to let listeners know a little bit more about Seed Legals, please give us the 30 second elevator pitch.
Anthony: Okay. So, SeedLegals is a one-stop platform for a startup, UK startup, French and Irish and more to come, to build, grow their business, close funding rounds, hire their team and so on.
So, if you're looking to raise investment, you find investors as the founder, then you hop on SeedLegals and the platform with our expert help will build everything you need to close your funding round way faster. You can give your team share options, you can manage your cap table, you can hire it people insanely easily. I can see upcoming starters and see current team. I can see the number of share options that people have.
We think of it as the operating system of your company and actually, just more philosophically, although it's got seed and legals in the name and people perceive us as the legals, when we started the business, my perception of was people were looking for legals. And it turns out, I learned pretty quickly, people are not looking for legals. They're looking, it sounds trite, but they're looking for solutions.
And the solution is, what do I need to do? Give me some data. Is this term market or not? Show me not only what I thought I wanted to do, but actually what is much better for me to do. Am I the only schmuck in the room offering this deal term, or am I the only schmuck to say no to this deal term? Help me!
Obviously for a founder, our goal is just to give you a package of things to help you get to the next step. But to do that, to think through the macro level piece, which is what value do lawyers bring? How does it change in the world of data? How can you productise things? How can you democratise and give openness and transparency to both parties? And is that good or bad? So into all that area, I'm sure we're going to have a fantastic discussion.
Geoff: Well, there's so many points that you've raised and each merit a session in their own right. But, I think I'd like to particularly talk through the transaction life cycle on your platform and how people build that round and the elements around that. So, how does that work through SeedLegals compared to what it was before and, what are the insights that you've gained from that process of developing that part of the product?
Anthony: That's a great question. So, let's go back even sometime before SeedLegals. Once upon a time, there was no such thing as equity funding. You had to go to the bank and, you sold cheese, and then you went to the bank and borrowed money to buy more cheese and sell cheese to pay back the bank.
But the bank only charges a few percent interest, so they have to have a 95 x percent chance of getting their money back again, otherwise it doesn't work. That doesn't work for a new class of venture which is spend lots of money on a risky new venture that may have a huge return or may have zero.
And so equity finance arose, and that was initially big funds or VCs. They were risk averse because of investment committees and they could only write big check sizes because it took them ages to do the due diligence. So, they would only invest once companies already had revenue.
That didn't help early stage startups at all and they struggled to get that initial investment. And then crowdfunding came along and completely democratised that and said, anyone can invest £10. But, that comes at a cost. Do you want a thousand shareholders? And you have to create a crowd campaign.
And then a new thing arose which was angel investment. And that meant that individuals, anyone with from £1000 to £100,000 available, thanks to HMRC’s amazing SEI and EIS tax deductions, has really turned the UK startup scene into a world leader. I mean more than 80% of investment in early stage rounds, in other words less than £500,000 pound is SEI or EIS. Investors get a tax break, get paid no capital gains tax when they sell the shares after three years and more. This has really created a whole new startup ecosystem.
And in that model, if an investor is investing £10,000, they have no interest in spending £3000 on lawyer fees for their £10k investment. And the founders are then also not expecting the investor to lead with a term sheet because the investors going, dude, just send me the term sheet and your pitch deck, and I'll make a decision.
And because it's ordinary shares the investors get for SEIs purposes, everything's actually dramatically simplified and much more formulaic. You can't get preference shares and anti-dilution, and various other things, or you won't get your SEIs. So there is really this perfect storm waiting for someone to come along in the UK and say, the existing way of doing things is now right to change and founders can now lead.
And that's exactly what we've done on SeedLegals. So the journey is I've had an idea, I've put it together, a pitch deck, and then I've found investors. And then what do I do next? And actually that's when you find SeedLegals. So we'll show you what valuation to raise at, what’s the median equity dilution, how much equity you should you sell/ give away, what the investor consent rights are that are reasonable for different investors. And essentially go on the SeedLegals platform and you dial the things in, and we'll then build not only every deal document for the funding round, but show you the documents that are needed, the ordering. It's a complete collaboration platform.
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