Contract automation is becoming a trend nowadays whereby companies have realized the beauty of doing business online.
Businesses that routinely create, negotiate, and execute contracts are seeing the great benefits of contract automation in their day to day operations. From streamlining the contract process to allowing online review, amendment and execution via an e-signature, the benefits of contract automation are clear ‘increase of efficiency and saving of costs’.
On the other hand, we have smart contracts. Contract automation and smart contracts are not the same. While contract automation is considered a substitute of a legal contract that uses natural language (meaning not coded) in computerized and electronic form, smart contracts use software (code) to perform certain tasks relating to the contract through automated processes. For instance, you can create a smart contract for royalty distribution involving the automatic payment of artists and other associated individuals pursuant to the terms of a contract.
The benefits of smart contracts are obvious. Since smart contracts use distributed ledger technology (DLT), this brings a number of potential advantages, including increased transparency and efficiency, as well as trust, since the fulfillment of the contract’s terms is monitored and controlled digitally by the participants and its content cannot be altered unless participants agree to it by consensus.
Smart contract use is increasing day-by-day in sectors such as securities, supply chain, financial and health services. We have seen a growing trend of startups using contract automation as well as smart contracts to enhance business services.
With this in mind, we’ve scouted out 5 of the most promising European startups, founded in the last 5 years, with fast-growing teams and/or recent funding rounds won, that show the benefits of these contract solutions:
JURO – Operating under the motto “making contracts more human”, this UK startup offers companies to rebuild their contracts from the ground. But how? They’ve created a contract collaboration platform using machine learning tech and centric user design, which enables several parties to access the agreement and manage the contract all in one place. It guides users through the contract building process making it more interactive and trackable, as well as handling e-signing. It also offers contract management services, using machine learning tech to power features such as automatic contract tagging and for flagging up unusual language. It offers solutions in several sectors from legal, HR to sales teams. Founded in 2016, the startup has already raised around €6.8 million, with its last round being this January 2020 at around €4.4 million.
Contractbook – A Danish startup, founded in 2016, that offers a digital contract management platform where you can manage the entire lifecycle of your contracts. The team has grown to 45 employees. With Contractbook you can create contracts, sign them digitally, organize and store them in the cloud, import all your contracts form Gmail and share and work your document with others. Additionally, Contractbook supports integration with various third-party applications such as Dropbox, HubSpot, Google Drive, Salesforce and more. Contractbook also offers SSL encryption technology. So far the team has raised around €3.5 million, across 2 rounds in 2017 and 2019.
Skribble – A Swiss startup founded in 2018. With Skribble you sign documents electronically in an easy way, which are legally binding in accordance with Swiss and EU law. Their goal is to speed up the signature process allowing signature of documents from anywhere in the world, while reducing costs, minimizing risk, and working more efficiently. Their solutions are for HR, lawyers, and tax advisers; through their platform you can sign many types of documents, from an employment contract, to a power of attorney, or non-disclosure agreement in no time, with the signature happening simultaneously for all parties involved, with legal effect as they meet the e-signature requirements. The startup has raised over €1 million so far, with their last funding round being a Series B this May 2020.
Bryter – This Berlin-based startup, founded in 2018, offers a no-code software to over 30 international law and accounting firms, as well as companies and governments, to automate decision-making. Among their offerings, we can find the so-called ‘BD Concierge Service’ which is geared towards Business Development teams at professional services firms that prepare RFPs, tenders, proposals or pitches for specific projects or long-term engagements. They also offer a ‘Document Service’, which can automate documents at a large scale for minimal time and cost. The team’s last funding round was this past summer in June 2020 – a Series A of around €14 million.
Limechain – This Sofia- and London-based startup, founded in 2017, offers innovative blockchain & DLT Solutions for enterprises and startups. From smart contracts through dApps and DAOs, LimeChain offers end-to-end development services. Specifically, they offer smart contract development and auditing services for projects based on both public and private blockchain networks. Among their use cases, we find the use of DLT solutions in the retail sector, to avoid counterfeiting and theft which are ongoing problems for manufacturers and retailers. This is done through the use of authenticity verification, where blockchain trails can help manufacturers detect product diversion and trademark infringement, and they also enable resellers to verify ownership.
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