Singapore: Legalese closes $418k pre-seed round led by Walden International

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Binding contract of law. Pixabay
Binding contract of law. Pixabay

Singapore-based legaltech-fintech startup Legalese announced Monday that it has secured S$600,000 ($418,000) in a pre-seed funding round led by venture capital (VC) firm Walden International, as well as several angel investors.

Co-founded by Wong Meng Weng and Ong Chiah Li, who worked together at Singapore’s pioneer seed accelerator JFDI, the venture plans to use proceeds from this investment to develop its first web app and fund further research and development in computational law.

Computational law is the legal branch that is concerned with automating legal analysis and has been said to possess the potential to vastly improve the quality and efficiency of legal services.

This promising sector is concerned with developing computer systems capable of performing legal calculations such as compliance, planning, and regulatory analysis.

Legalese claims that to date, its software has helped over 30 startups produce paperwork for more than $1.5 million in funding. The software product first found its roots in JFDI in the 2013/2014 period, before getting spun off as a separate company in 2015.

Legalese started as a pet project at JFDI.Asia in 2013, and spun out in 2015. “The need for something like Legalese became obvious during my time at JFDI; during peak periods we’d be making a dozen investments in a single month. Law firms would have charged an arm and a leg! We looked for software that could handle the volume, but we couldn’t find any. So we wrote some software ourselves,” Chiah recalls.

In an official statement, Wong said, “After we close this round of investment, the clock is ticking, and we’re on the hook: in the next 12 months our job is to turn capital into revenue, launch the product commercially, and strengthen the source of our competitive advantage, our core IP which supports the rest of our tech stack.”

In a blog post that discussed their research, Legalese explained that it is developing a programming language codenamed L4 that “will be to legal contracts what SQL is to databases” and have started exploring grants linked to Singapore-based research and commercialisation schemes.

Wong added that if its revenue experiments experience successful outcomes, Legalise will be raising a seed round in late 2017. Previous funding it has secured includes a an $8,888 grant from cryptostudio String Labs and an AU$30,000 (US$22,000) Innovation Grant from ISIF.asia.

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