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How SpotDraft wants to become the Salesforce of contract management

The Bengaluru-based Saas startup allows businesses to run "deep searches" on their contracts with the agility of a sedan

Harichandan Arakali
Published: Jul 5, 2023 02:26:11 PM IST
Updated: Jul 5, 2023 03:24:18 PM IST

How SpotDraft wants to become the Salesforce of contract managementShashank Bijapur, co-founder and CEO of SpotDraft. Photo Credit: Selvaprakash Lakshmanan for Forbes India; Imaging: Kapil Kashyap

A chance meeting at a Diwali evening party in New York several years ago brought a lawyer and an engineer together. Soon, a third friend joined them to get SpotDraft going.

“I found the tools and the systems that lawyers used were pretty archaic,” says the lawyer, Shashank Bijapur, co-founder and CEO of the company. Madhav Bhagat, the engineer from the party, and their friend Rohith Salim make up the other two co-founders—CTO and chief product officer, respectively.

“Think of us as the Salesforce of contract management,” says Bijapur. That’s the scope of the ambition, anyway. Among SpotDraft’s customers are several of India’s successful startups, including other SaaS companies, but also global ones like Airbnb, Notion, Strava and Panasonic.

India’s first generation of software companies—Zoho is an oft-cited example—started out by serving smaller businesses. And, especially after the Covid pandemic, they have set their sights on the larger “enterprise” customers—businesses around the world that have bigger organisations, sometimes millions of their own customers, and the deeper pockets needed to pay for cloud software that can make their operations more efficient and effective.

Also read: SaaS in 2023: 6 business tech trends that will drive the industry

In parallel, a new generation of Indian software companies is emerging whose constituents are entrepreneurs who are targeting larger customers from the get-go, in the US mostly, but also in other rich countries, thereby building software from India, for the world. They often serve the cloud-native larger startups in India as well. SpotDraft, started in 2017, is clearly such an example.

The three founders of the company bring strong prior experience in both legal and tech—Bijapur went to Harvard Law School and worked at a New York law firm and Bhagat and Salim are Carnegie Mellon University alumni and later worked at companies including Microsoft, Google and Yelp.

Today, SpotDraft allows businesses to run “deep searches” on their contracts, Salim says. For example, “show me contracts where the liability is less than $100,000 and the applicable law is of the state of New York, you can now run that by just doing a ctrl F,” he says.

Also read: Tailor-made SaaS will emerge from India for the world: Blume Ventures' Anirvan Chowdhury

Of course, SpotDraft is by far not the first in this field, as is often the case. For example, within the Indian SaaS sector itself, Icertis is the big name in contract lifecycle management –especially in the Microsoft ecosystem. There are also established big-tech companies, from Salesforce to SAP Ariba offering solutions in this area.

Using an auto metaphor, SpotDraft offers the agility of a small sedan or hatchback, versus the Mack Trucks of the business, Bijapur likes to say. The venture is well past the “product-market-fit” stage, and expects to hit $10 million ARR this year, he says.

One useful feature on SpotDraft’s platform is that it allows businesses to templatise their most-used contracts. And business users can then build their own bespoke contracts with little or no help from their legal teams. When changes are made, SpotDraft speaks back to the relevant IT systems in the backend to ensure the changes are reflected everywhere.

Also read: Indian SaaS ecosystem: Opportunities and challenges in post Covid-19 world

And the next steps definitely include building more features around generative AI. “Say, you have only the high-level requirements of a contract, for example. That confidentiality should survive even after a certain non-disclosure agreement ends,” Bhagat says. “What GPT does is, it will tell you if the clause exists or if the contract needs a review.”

In the past, this would require the draft to be sent to a legal team. Today, GPT will identify such points right away, he says. Bhagat and Salim are working on incorporating such capabilities into SpotDraft.

The aspiration is, “SpotDraft becomes the one point of truth for a company for anything related to contracts”, Bijapur says.

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