A startup using artificial intelligence to make legal advice more accessible has raised $2.5 million in seed funding.
London-based Robin AI, which was founded in 2019, raised funds from early stage investors Episode 1, which has previously backed Shazam, Viagogo, and Zoopla.
The company is headed up by Richard Robinson, who quit his job at law firm Boies Schiller Flexner to build the startup. It also had support from the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund.
Robin AI plans to make contracts simple by combining machine learning with legal professionals to help read and edit contracts. It hopes to make legal advice more affordable and accessible by automating repetitive but time-consuming tasks that can be costly to those seeking help.
The cash injection brings the company's total raised to $3.5 million, Robinson said. The industry, which is still in its infancy, is tipped for growth. Gartner predicts legal technology spending will increase to 12% of in-house budgets by 2025, which is three times higher than 2020 levels.
Robinson, who spent six-and-a-half years practicing law before coming up with the idea for Robin AI, told Insider: "Getting world class legal advice is not cheap. I was obsessed with ways we could make it significantly cheaper, faster, more accurate, more accessible, more available to everybody. And that's really what we're trying to do."
The CEO interviewed 100 lawyers before perfecting the business pitch. His peers revealed they spend a lot of time on routine, repetitive tasks, and administrative work that was high volume and low complexity.
"It meant that lawyers didn't spend enough of their time doing what they were truly special at, what they truly loved," Robinson said. "Adding real value, being a real advisor, a person that you can call when you're in trouble, and opining on the law."
Robin AI is currently focused on the financial services industry but plans to expand over time. Clients currently include Clifford Chance, Foot Anstey, Babylon Health, Pizza Hut, and asset management firm Hayfin.
Building 'Europe's most-diverse unicorn'
The latest funds will help to build out a sales team and pipeline but most will be allocated to operations, which Robinson said are complex due to being a "human in the loop service".
"We need really bright people in operations capacities as well so it's most pretty much at 90% of what we've raised be spent on people," he said. "They are the heartbeat of what we do."
The company has a total headcount of 15 and is expecting to grow to 20 by the end of the year, but Robinson says there is no hard limit on this as the company will "take brilliant people when we see them".
"I can't afford to be waiting around and denying talented people who fit our culture," Robinson said. The founder hopes to build "Europe's most-diverse unicorn" and urges other businesspeople to think about hiring differently.
"We're never really hiring an individual," he added. "We're bringing someone into the team. Someone is joining an existing group, so we should be asking ourselves what are we missing, what things don't we have that we need to complement us with this new hire."
Around 45% of Robin AI's team today are women, more than 25% are people of colour, and 50% of board members are also women — and those numbers are going to go up, not down, Robinson said.
Here's the pitch deck that landed the company investment from Episode 1: