How a Careful Approach Led This Company to Off-the-Charts Success

How a Careful Approach Led This Company to Off-the-Charts Success

By the book: UpCounsel’s Mason Blake, left, and Matt Faustman.

Image credit: Courtesy of UpCounsel
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It figures that lawyers would do everything by the book. How else to explain UpCounsel’s success? In 2012, when Matt Faustman and Mason Blake wanted to build a company to match small and midsize businesses with experienced attorneys, they pounded the pavement to get a sense of what legal services were needed. Later, when Faustman, CEO, and Blake, CTO, needed cash to offset the costs of acquiring those new customers, they sought out venture funding from Menlo Ventures to the tune of $10 million (and $13.9 million overall).

Once the approach was perfected -- eliminating the traditional partner structure and reducing overhead by unifying customers on proprietary practice management software -- UpCounsel was able to provide quality legal services for up to one-third the traditional cost, the San Francisco-based company says.

Data has formed the foundation for each of these moves. Call Faustman conservative, prudent, almost skittish, but the former attorney says he learned early on never to make business decisions without researching each possible outcome. This has resulted in 20 percent month-over-month revenue growth in 2015, the company says.

“The equation is about user acquisition and lifetime value economics,” he explains. “We know what it costs to bring customers in; we know if we can net more than that over time, we’ll be in good shape.”

UpCounsel applies this same philosophy to HR, hiring “smart people,” Faustman says, and encouraging them to rely on research and data to solve problems. There’s no magic, no conversation circles for the company’s 30 employees. Just hard-nosed research and data-driven decision-making. Which is exactly how lawyers like it.

Edition: October 2016

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