As a small business, the ability to close deals in the earliest stages is critical. Often lacking the resources of a dedicated and expensive legal team, businesses need a way to build contracts in plain english to close deals quickly, easily, and cheaply so that they can actually execute on the work stated in a contract rather than spending an exorbitant amount of time negotiating it. Outlaw, has reinvented the contract process to easily build contracts that allows for real time edits that feature convenient smart templating options to accelerate the usual drawn out and obsolete process that includes the endless back and forth and redlining. Within a few clicks, sales teams can build professional, customized contracts that won’t create a bottle neck. As a key differentiator, the platform can build a technical, jargon filled contract while providing a copy written in clear and simplified English so that both parties fully understand the terms and agreement. Most business benefit from a straight forward approach and Outlaw’s platform ensures it happens seamlessly when it comes to contracts.
AlleyWatch chatted with cofounder Evan Schneyer about the company, its origin, future plans, and how Outlaw can benefit small businesses everywhere.
Tell us about Outlaw.
Outlaw is a modern contract platform that reinvents the contract process, transforming static stacks of paper into interactive templates that are a breeze to edit, share, negotiate and sign in real-time.
The platform includes a plain English overview on every contract, which enables both sides to fully understand the terms of the contract they are signing, without needing to pore through endless legalese. This creates a fluid contract experience for both sides and ultimately helps people close deals faster.
Businesses can upload their existing contracts onto the platform and create dynamic templates with our smart variables and conditional clauses tools. Once that’s done, customers simply fill in the blanks to draft and send out their contracts in seconds.
In-document real-time commenting, multi-party sharing and digital signing also massively accelerate the negotiation and closing process.
Our biggest functional differentiator is the interactive plain English overview layer that we overlay on every contract. No other contract platform or e-signing service does that, and it has an enormously positive impact in terms of “getting to yes.”
We believe that the true goal of a contract is not a paper Agreement (capital ‘A’) which will get filed away after signing and never looked at again. The true goal is an agreement (lowercase ‘a’) — a lasting relationship based on mutual trust and understanding.
One customer told me that he signed the NDA I sent him while he was standing outside in his socks watering his garden. That’s not the type of experience people usually have with contracts.
What market Does Outlaw attack and how big is it?
Outlaw serves anyone who regularly sends out contracts, from individual freelancers to enterprise sales teams. Our sweet spot is in the middle: SMBs with medium to high contract volume – figure one per week or more. There are millions of such businesses in the U.S. alone, and we already have demand from abroad as well. We’re currently getting the most traction in industries like real estate, consultancies, media publishers and events.
What is the business model?
Outlaw is a SaaS service based on a pay-per-user subscription model. We support both individual use and group use under a Team/Organization plan, as well as custom technology integrations.
What inspired the business?
I’ve dealt regularly with contracts of various types for almost 15 years now, and the process infuriates me every single time. My first startup, Wanderfly, was acquired by TripAdvisor, and the paperwork for that was over 150 pages!
Think about it: we’ve all accepted it as standard practice that in order for two people/organizations to actually move forward with a business relationship, the final step in our negotiation involves being forced to switch out of English (where our dialog began) and into the esoteric dialect of legalese! We then wonder why so many deals explode, even though both sides embarked on the process with legitimately good will.
I’ve always known there’s a more honest way to do business, and now we’ve built it.
Would you mind telling us about your recent fundraising round that you closed?
We’ve recently closed a $500K seed round from a combination of friends, family, angels and former Wanderfly investors.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Our primary focus is customer acquisition. We already have market validation with a bunch of happy customers in various industries, and we’re looking to work with larger organizations who send out contracts at higher volume.
Accordingly, we’re focusing dev to the types of functionality that these enterprises need: full-fledged redlining and change tracking, contract management with parametric search (e.g., “show me the NDAs whose terms are up in the next month”), and deal analytics.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon!
It takes time to build a real business. All the hype around startups these days obscures that truth, and it’s easy to feel like everything is an emergency all the time. But that level of urgency is deeply unhealthy and leads to burnout. I experienced a lot of this my first time around.
With Outlaw, we’re taking conscious steps to create a zero emergency culture. We love the problem we’re solving and we know we’re creating a lot of value for customers, so while we are still moving incredibly fast, we’re not freaking out if we’re not immediately featured on the cover of Fast Company. We’ll get there!
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
I’d love an introduction to whomever makes tech purchasing decisions for the city itself. NYC engages tons of local vendors for many different types of services, and I’m confident that Outlaw could vastly speed up this process.
Why did you launch in New York?
New York is home, but even if it weren’t, I’d move here in a heartbeat to start a business of virtually any kind. The tech culture here has really exploded over the last 10 years, but unlike Silicon Valley, everything else is here too! Media, Finance, Entertainment, Professional Services, Retail, and of course loads of freelancers. It truly is the home of the hustle.
This creates an eclectic and amazingly welcoming environment for startups. When you share your venture with someone here, they typically get excited and ask how they can help or get involved. It’s wonderfully and surprisingly non-competitive; because basic survival and cost of living here are such innate challenges themselves, it feels like we’re all rooting for each other to thrive together.
And for a contract startup, New York’s scale and diversity of business also mean that we have an unlimited supply of local customers and prospects – from 3-person digital agencies to Fortune 100 companies – right in our backyard! Of course, as a cloud-based SaaS product we can easily serve customers regardless of geography, but when you’re in the early stages of gaining market traction, face-to-face customer engagement helps enormously. It’s great to be able to pound pavement locally without needing to fly all over the country.
Where is your favorite bar in the city for an after work drink?
I live and work in Greenpoint so Alameda (Franklin & Green) is my local fave. Is it a thing to pair oysters and sazeracs? I don’t know, but both are amazing there so that’s my standard order.