Executing on a company’s mission can slip from being an imperative to becoming an afterthought when driving the kind of rapid growth needed to become a market leader. And at Clio, the market leading cloud-based legal software provider, the company’s mission was audacious; transform the legal experience for all. By imbuing that mission into every company decision, Clio continues to power the flywheel that took them from being the first cloud-based legal SaaS product on the market, to the market leader it is today.
In this episode of Growth Journeys, Clio’s CEO Jack Newton chats with TCV Principal and Clio Board Member Amol Helekar to discuss how Clio educated their customers on the value of cloud-native software to transform how the legal industry used software – building trust as well as an impenetrable moat around their business in the process. Jack walks us through how Clio created a community of customers and employees that are committed to the company’s mission.
Key takeaways include:
- Why Clio invested in educating its market early, rather than waiting for product-market fit. Even though many industries were rapidly adopting the cloud in 2008 when Clio launched, CEO Jack Newton knew that the legal industry would be slower to adopt if a fundamental question wasn’t first answered: could attorneys be assured that it was ethical and safe to conduct business and store information in the cloud? Clio invested heavily in thought leadership, white papers, and advocated with various state bar associations to advance the conversation around attorneys moving their practices into the cloud. “In the end, we were successful in educating the market on cloud computing and really helped drive cloud adoption in legal, which is traditionally a pretty slow adopter of new technology,” says Newton.
- How a strong partnership strategy can become an impenetrable moat. Since Clio had to win over thousands of attorneys all using various systems of record, the company leaned into integrating with as many applications as possible. It did the same for the core applications used by bar associations, knowing the process would foster trust within the larger legal community. Newton acknowledges that building out a 200+ integration library isn’t a quick or easy task. “Partnerships are another example of [something] that takes years to forge. But once you have those relationships built, you’re really building a defensible moat around your business.”
- Choosing a mission statement that can foster growth. Clio’s focus isn’t just to build the best legal SaaS product. Reflecting on the fact that 77% of people with legal issues historically haven’t seen their issue resolved by an attorney, the Clio team set their mission even higher: to transform the legal experience for all, by making it easier and more affordable for all to access legal services. Rather than let the mission dwindle on a website FAQ page, the company asks itself daily how much every business decision allows them to accelerate their ability to achieve their mission. “The energy needs to go into finding how you can build a bit of a flywheel, where the progress you’re seeing on your mission…is actually helping drive your overall flywheel of growth,” says Newton.
- How to draw clients, employees, and investors into your mission. Because of its larger mission that transcends a single company, the Clio team is continually facilitating seminars, studies, and its annual legal tech conference in order to continue conversations around ways to make legal services more accessible and affordable. The company began hosting its annual Clio Cloud Conference in 2012 which Newton says began humbly, with just a few hundred attendees. It has since expanded to more than 2,000 in-person and more than 4,000 virtual attendees. “The Clio Cloud Conference is not just for customers, it’s a chance for the entire legal community to come together and talk about the most pressing issues facing the industry. It’s a chance to reflect, learn, and set the course for what the next ten years of innovation in legal will look like,” says Newton. “And what’s amazing for Clio is we’ve become an intrinsic part of that discussion.”
- Maintaining investor excitement even in late funding rounds. Clio has seen tremendous growth and raised multiple rounds, including a $250 million Series D round in 2019, followed by a $110M Series E round earlier this year. Newton says that as critical as it was to show that Clio was executing well, it was also important to have a long-term vision that inspires investors. For Clio, that vision was the opportunity to change an industry that had seen very little shift in how it conducted business for decades. Newton also suggests that entrepreneurs ask themselves how they’re helping their customers address their total addressable market. “Are you driving the kind of transformation in your industry that will actually expand the TAM of your customers? As a first step, can you expand the TAM of what your customers are able to address?” says Newton.
To learn more, tune into Growth Journeys: An Audacious Goal: How Clio’s Mission of Transforming the Legal Experience For All Is Helping Lawyers Scale