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"We Got Funded!" UAE-Born Legaltech Startup Clara Secures Investment From Silicon Valley-Based Plug And Play With over 4,000 startups on its platform already, Clara's legaltech services primarily focus on digitizing and automating legal tasks for business founders.

By Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


Plug and Play, a Silicon Valley-based startup innovation platform that connects startups, corporations, venture capital (VC) firms, and government entities, has announced an investment in Clara, a UAE-born legaltech startup that is now headquartered in the UK, while also entering into a long-term partnership with the enterprise.

With over 4,000 startups on its platform already, Clara's legaltech services primarily focus on digitizing and automating legal tasks for business founders. On the other hand, Plug and Play offers over 60 accelerator programs and other corporate innovation programs that has so far supported more than 15,000 startups.

Through this investment and partnership, both entities now hope to work towards easing the legal bottlenecks that continue to hinder startup founders. "Through our partnership with Clara, we aim to revolutionize the way legal services are accessed and utilized by startups," said Carolin Wais, Partner at Plug and Play. "Clara provides self-sufficiency to founders, empowering them to take greater control of legal aspects, and make informed decisions. By streamlining legal processes and reducing costs, startups can focus on driving their businesses forward."

Weis also noted that Plug and Play's investment in Clara is reflective of its genuine interest in the Middle East's overall business landscape. "For Plug and Play, the Middle East is certainly one of the most exciting regions to be, there is tremendous potential for further creating a stronger startup ecosystem," Weis added. "We see ourselves at the core of this economic progression, working with organizations such as Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Abu Dhabi Investment Office, MISK Foundation, Neom, Department of Health Abu Dhabi and many more to drive innovation in construction tech, healthcare, travel, sustainability, and much more."

Commenting on the partnership, Patrick Rogers, co-founder and CEO of Clara, said that startups within the Plug and Play network will be getting to directly avail his enterprise's services as a result of the tie-up between the two entities. "We will be using some of the Plug and Play investment to build workflows specific to Plug and Play's accelerator cohorts, allowing their portfolio companies to take care of all the legal tasks that make them investment-ready from the get-go," Rogers explained.

Related: Plug And Play Debuts Travel And Hospitality Accelerator Program In Abu Dhabi

Patrick Rogers, co-founder and CEO of Clara. Image courtesy Clara.

However, the synergetic results of this partnership will not remain exclusive. Indeed, according to Henrik Bærentsen, Director of Plug and Play Saudi Arabia, one of the foremost goals of this collaboration will be to create a more seamlessly connected business ecosystem in the Middle East as a whole- a result that will be reflective of the work Plug and Play has achieved in other global regions.

"This partnership extends beyond startups," Bærentsen said. "By working together, Plug and Play, corporates, and government entities can foster collaborations that further support startups. Corporates can leverage Plug and Play to enhance their interactions with startups, streamlining legal processes and facilitating partnerships. Similarly, government entities can use the partnership to provide startups with the necessary guidance and resources to navigate legal challenges, ensuring a conducive environment for growth and innovation. This collaborative approach unlocks the potential for strategic partnerships, industry-specific innovation, and the development of new technologies that address regional challenges."

Of course, to achieve such end results, startups will first have to bypass time-consuming and complicated legal framework issues- and that is where Clara claims to be the ideal solution for founders. "It's never too early to turn to Clara!" Rogers said. "We give a huge amount of best practice guidance and knowledge away for free through our website chatbot. For example, if a founder is trying to understand a legal concept like 'vesting,' they can simply ask our bot and be provided with relevant (and accurate) answers, without even having to create a Clara account."

As someone who's been at the helm of Clara since its launch, Rogers also offered commentary on what are some of the most pressing legal issues startups face in the Middle East's ecosystem, and how his enterprise can help tackle them. "Structuring would be one- founders face a lot of friction in getting a corporate structure set up that venture capital firms will invest in," he explained. "Another area founders struggle with is the management of their cap tables (a document outlining a company's ownership structure, specifically the percentage of ownership held by each shareholder and type of securities they hold, often requested by VCs). Clara gives founders the ability and confidence to manage these types of tasks quickly and efficiently while saving a tonne of money on lawyers."

Sharing Rogers' sentiments on the matter, Plug and Play Saudi Arabia's Bærentsen added further insights on how startup founders can set themselves up for success through Clara. "By leveraging Clara's platform, founders gain the ability and confidence to manage tasks such as setting up a corporate structure and handling cap tables quickly and efficiently," Bærentsen added. "This streamlined process not only saves time and money but also enhances the overall professionalism and preparedness of startups, making them more attractive to investors. Once legal issues are effectively addressed by solutions like Clara, tech startups in the region can unlock several doors of opportunity. And so, overall, our partnership serves as a catalyst for fostering a robust ecosystem where startups, corporates, and government entities can work together to drive innovation and fuel economic progress in the region."

Related: New Kids On The Block: Silicon Valley-Headquartered Plug And Play Partners With Abu Dhabi Global Market

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Features Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East.

She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and was also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program.

Ahmed is particularly keen on writing stories involving people-centric leadership, female-owned startups, and entrepreneurs who've beaten significant odds to realize their goals.


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