We spoke with Haley Altman, founder of Doxly. Doxly is enterprise grade software that helps attorneys manage the documentation process. Recently Doxly sold to Litera and below are some key take-aways from Haley’s story.
Startups require you to leave comfort. Before starting Doxly, Haley was a practicing attorney and partner at Ice Miller LP. She kept seeing the same pain points in administration, deal closings, tracking down signature pages, editing multiple docs quickly and at once, missing signatures from signature packets, etc. Haley decided to build a workspace in the cloud for deals as opposed to relying on manual check lists. This required her to leave her role as a partner at her law firm, which was a life long goal of hers.
Strategic help was valuable. Haley approached the law firm she was at (Ice Miller LP) and proposed building the product for them. The firm was supportive of her doing so while she continued working as an attorney. Additionally Ice Miller had a venture practice and true fund which Haley pitched. The idea for Doxly was accepted, Haley started working on Doxly full time, and Ice Miller agreed to be one of the first paying customers; they provided a lot of feedback that was valuable iterating the product.
Fundraising was easy. Doxly was able to raise $2.7mm without a product in September 2016. Investors (VC) could all relate to the pain point so the process was easier than expected; Doxly was oversubscribed. Doxly raised an additional $1mm in August 2018.
M&A came to them. Doxly was adding customers at a nice clip and out of nowhere they started getting acquisition offers. It compelled the team to think about selling the business. Prior to that, the focus had always been building the business, not selling early.
The acquirer was the right fit. The offers were strong, but the Litera offer also allowed the company to continue growing the product. They brought the entire team on board, let them stay in Indianapolis, and sell into Litera’s customer base of 1,000+ law firms. The transaction was announced in August 2019 and the deal closed in 10 days from signing of the LOI (the entire deal was done on Doxly of course).
Selling into law firms was hard. Everyone understood the product, but getting law firms to trust a young company with their most sensitive data was challenging. It took about a year for the market to finally come around. Getting attorneys to then adopt the product once they purchased it was also challenging; attorneys bill in 6 minute increments so getting them to sit down for training sessions wasn’t easy. The sales cycles were long and adoption was a challenge.
Hire people built for startups. Everyone ever hired was highly skilled, but sometimes those skills don’t translate to smaller companies. Doxly had to make sure they hired people that were ok doing the big things while also being willing to take the trash out. For instance at times, Haley herself had to respond to support tickets.
Don’t sweat the little things. Looking back Hailey wouldn’t change anything. While there were probably thousands of small decisions made over the three years that could have been different, Doxly was a great outcome for everyone involved. Every day was a rollercoaster as it is in any startup, but small day to day decisions will not sink or propel the business.
Big thanks to Haley Altman for sharing her story and learnings with us.