Tell me about yourself.
As a corporate investigator, I worked with the best litigators in the world for decades and have personally managed multi-million dollar professional-services organizations. I have the utmost respect for litigators. We find the facts, and they use the facts to win cases! It's a great partnership.
I’m a native San Franciscan and spent many years in New York. Out of college I started a small research company – mostly as an excuse to hang out in the library – and that very quickly grew to a staff of subcontractors doing mostly investigative and financial research. I next cofounded the international investment arm of a DC-based bank and ran that before heading back to the field of private investigation. Then I turned 25. Using technology and visualization software to streamline work has always been part of my DNA. Writing HTML and knowing basic programming languages helped. With my partners, I ran and grew an investigations business and that was enormously rewarding. I eventually left to develop Lynx Workflow.
Ed was also a partner at the investigation firm. He had always been very active in the art scene in New York and eventually co-founded an organization that brings awareness about climate change through art. Through his work with that organization, he was offered the prestigious Loeb fellowship at the Harvard Design School and left the investigations firm to do that. It was not his first journey to Harvard; he also holds a Masters degree in Japanese poetry from there, and is quite the renaissance guy. He still plays an active role in the international art/climate-change discourse while not leading design and product for Lynx Workflow.
In litigation, attorneys must work with big volumes of complex factual information. Our flagship product FactBox is an easier way to manage all those facts by capturing all the ideas, facts, and notes of the workday, making connections between all those facts, and readying those facts for a client-focused report. Although Lynx Workflow has other offerings, FactBox is dedicated to the professional services industry. It’s an SaaS product that transforms ideas into work product.
|Generate work product directly from your facts|
What inspired you to create FactBox?
As a partner in a large investigative firm, I grew increasingly frustrated at the inefficiencies of the job. I found timekeeping, report editing, and organizing exhibits to be an excruciating time drain. So, my cofounder Matthew Carmody and I created a skunkworks program to solve these workflow problems. Our first product made it much easier for investigators to record expenses related to their searches. That sounds boring at first, but these types of minutiae weigh down a professional’s life. In the first month, we saw widespread adoption and thousands of dollars added to the bottom line. We made happy investigators and happy partners.
The cofounders went our separate ways and eventually reconvened to work on innovating workflow solutions for professional services. Lynx Workflow recognizes that that facts and ideas in the litigation process get put in email, folders with subfolders, and Word docs, so this workflow system allows people to save time and energy, and results in a better work product. We found that litigators that bill over $500/hr often spend 10 hours a week redoing the same work. We are passionate about automating work a computer does better, and leaving the real service-level work to the human.
What's innovative about it?
The real trick with work-productivity software is not making the user change his/her current way of working. We spent almost two years iterating and testing different solutions before we got to the current FactBox product. FactBox is designed to let each person – and groups of people – continue working in their own style, with the lightest of interference. The result is an easy-to-use tool that gives back 1000X what you put in. There are other, and even more robust, fact-management tools for litigators but they require a thick manual and training program. That’s not realistic to how professionals like working today. Plus, we really love professionals and have the highest respect for what they do. That respect shows in every nuance of FactBox.
What's been your greatest challenge thus far?
Finding the balance between getting FactBox into the hands of users and building out all the features we know our customers will want. Our initial customers – litigators at major law firms working on high-impact cases – don’t have extra time and expect the highest quality from day one.
What is the demographic of your main customer?
Our initial customers are litigators and more specifically tend to be: (1) senior associates who are ready to maximize the efficiency of their workday and (2) partners who want better work-product from their associates. Even though FactBox does reduce unbillable time, we find the prime motivator for our customers is providing the most exceptional service to their clients. FactBox helps them do that.
What's been your greatest success so far?
We provided a very early version of FactBox to five firms – including two Amlaw 50 firms – for them to use on real cases and provide design feedback. This required the firm to sign-off on our security and SaaS technology--an important benchmark for us. Additionally, despite the basic interface and bugs, every one of those firms opted in to continue using (and pay for) FactBox.
What changes do you foresee in the company? the legal industry?
There are many features and exciting dimensions of FactBox waiting in our roadmap. I can’t wait to grow and deliver excellent products to our customers.
As for the legal-industry prognostication: it really bothers me when people talk about big law dying or predict a world of total legal self-service. There are huge leaps of productivity needed for sure, but the bottom line is that lawyers have real skills that add real value. Being a counselor is more than reading a law book; great lawyers are trained to think about a problem and give you expert legal-specific advice. That will not go away. The professional-services field will not be commoditized and I challenge anyone who thinks it will be.
Are you an attorney? Did you go to law school?
I am not an attorney, nor have I ever considered it. My partner Ed got close to being one. He got a perfect LSAT score, in fact, and turned down Harvard Law School to pursue a dual career in investigations and climate-change activism.