Many Canadian entrepreneurs know that Fasken was one of the first law firms to develop a service offering for emerging tech companies. In Montreal they have been at it for close to 10 years. Today, Costa Ragas is a Partner in Fasken’s M&A and Emerging Tech Group working with exciting companies bringing innovation to the world in form of MedTech, AI, Blockchain and more. He recalls the story of how they came up with this innovative idea.
“Initially our practise was getting a number of pre-incorporation clients. When I was in my second year one of my partners came to me with a dozen companies we had to incorporate, which involved filling out a number of government forms, and organizing them which means director resolutions, share certificates and so on. This is monotonous work, but you have to get it done. I remember thinking to myself, I think a machine could do this faster and better.” says Ragas who worked as a web designer during his college years. “So instead of spending that weekend incorporating these businesses, I designed a prototype of a product that could handle this kind of work on its own.”
Fast forward a couple of years and ViaFasken was born.
Initially this was a one-off tool. It had document templates built into it, which were big time savers for both clients and Fasken’s lawyers alike. But as the startup ecosystem continued to evolve, and technology continued to improve, it became clear to Fasken that more could be done with the product to help their clients in emerging tech. “We needed it to become something more than this. It had to be something our clients could go to regularly for multiple reasons”.
This month marks the launch of the new ViaFasken, which has been stripped down to the studs and completely rebuilt, including a new code base. The platform is packed with a host of new features designed to help with personnel management, IP, raising financing and more. For example, a ViaFasken user can now search for trademarks within the platform, submit filing requests online and get price quotes at the click of a button.
Another useful bit was simplifying the financing process and its related documentation. For instance, SAFEs (Simple agreement for future equity) can now be generated online using ViaFasken, through a process that requires the client to answer fewer than 10 questions to generate all the necessary SAFE documents for a client. Furthermore, documentation related to convertible notes and convertible preferred shares are now in the product pipeline. There is also an ever-expanding list of commercial templates that clients can use to save themselves time and money. All documents are secured and validated using DocuSign.
“This takes a lot of time and pain out of the product. It makes it easier to be organized, and due diligence documentation is all set up and stored properly, which is something investors like to see. We have not seen any tools like ViaFasken, not even in the US.” Says Ragas. He explains that as his firm continues to build this subscription-based SaaS platform, we’ll see different types of plans emerge for startups in different phases of their lifecycle. Perhaps one product for those who are bootstrapping, a more detailed offering for companies at a seed or pre-seed stage, and something fairly comprehensive for those at an A, B or C round level. In this way the subscription model would correspond to the needs of more emerging tech companies.
“There are things going on here that are going to change the way people think about Legal. This is a different approach to the delivery of legal services” says Ragas. He explained that making sure they’re providing the right service at the right time for clients, along with the right tools and advice can play a big role in helping them to secure both financing and new business.