SeedLegals, which makes software to cut down startups’ administrative workload, is launching in France.
The UK company is targeting French startups with simplified legal agreements built for events like fundraising and handing out share packages to employees. After claiming to have automated every step of a funding round, SeedLegals is now tailoring to France with specific services including for local share options schemes under the BSPCE (Bon de Souscription de Parts de Créateur d'Entreprise) rules.
“SeedLegals will help French companies grow faster by removing some of the friction that comes with growing a business, streamlining the admin and cost to close an investment round or hire new staff,” says Anthony Rose, SeedLegals’ cofounder and chief executive. “In the current pandemic, we’ve also seen an increase in founders giving equity via BSPCE share options in lieu of cash.”
Obviously, for founders just starting out, legal aspects are a pain, and getting them wrong can cost a lot. When the time comes to raise money or sign a big commercial contract, there’s no getting around legal requirements though.
That’s why legal tech, or lawtech, has become a thing over the years. More broadly, the need for using technology to automate strict legal processes at companies has spawned dozens of startups in Europe, including ContractPod, Luminance, Universign and Yousign.
SeedLegals boasts more than 15,000 companies on its platform.
The French admin challenge
By expanding to France, it’s going after a market that has a history of founders complaining about the weight of administrative hurdles.
“We’re launching now, but the hard work for us started six months ago. We took our platform across the channel to fully understand the requirements and deal points it would need,” says Rose. “The French legal jurisdiction is a lot higher than the UK, so we needed to be sure to adhere to every element.”
That difference is something the French government itself has attempted to address in recent years.
To promote entrepreneurship, President Emmanuel Macron picked up where his predecessors left off: deploying tax breaks, pumping lots of money into startups — as well as trying to cut back on bureaucracy. He’s backed programs like The French Tech Visa, a fast-track scheme for non-EU startup employees, founders and investors to obtain a residence permit in France.
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In Paris, startups mega-campus Station F has a spot reserved for representatives of public administrations — more than 30 of them — for meetings with entrepreneurs about everything from intellectual property and taxes to visas. There are also workshops there about French laws and regulations.
Meanwhile, the French startup ecosystem is growing and gaining momentum in the region.
“France is the second largest investment space in Europe. Its startup ecosystem is booming with the number of investment rounds rapidly increasing,” says Rose. “For us, it was a natural move as we continue to expand the business after establishing ourselves as the UK’s largest closer of funding rounds.”