UpCounsel

Growth Stage

Leading legal services marketplace cutting the fat out of the old law firm model

Analytics

Raised to Date: Raised: $2,408,910

Aggregate Commitments $

Platform

Wefunder

Start Date

07/06/2021

Close Date

11/03/2021

Min. Goal

$50,000

Max. Goal

$5,000,000

Min. Investment

$250

Security Type

SAFE

Funding Type

RegCF

Series

Series B

Valuation Cap

$28,000,000

Discount Rate

0%

Rolling Commitments $

Status

Active

Reporting Date

09/19/2021

Days Remaining

45

% of Min. Goal

4,818%

% of Max. Goal

48%

Likelihood of Max
unlikely
Avg. Daily Raise

$32,119

Momentum
cool
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Location

Yerington, Nevada

Industry

Business Services, Software, & Applications

Tech Sector

MarketplaceTech

Distribution Model

B2B/B2C

Margin

Medium

Capital Intensity

Low

Business Type

High Growth

UpCounsel, with a valuation cap of $28 million, is raising crowdfunding on Wefunder. The company has developed an online marketplace to connect businesses with a network of experienced independent attorneys. The platform makes it affordable and convenient for small businesses to hire attorneys by eliminating overhead and high hourly rates. KJ Erickson founded UpCounsel in June 2021. The current crowdfunding round has a minimum target of $50,000 and a maximum target of $5,000,000, and the funds will be used for sales and marketing, new product development, operations, and attorney success. UpCounsel has a $2.6 million revenue run rate and has saved users $12 million in legal fees in the past year alone.

Summary Profit and Loss Statement

Most Recent Year Prior Year

Revenue

$1,452,643

$0

COGS

$0

$0

Tax

$0

$0

 

 

Net Income

$-147,151

$0

Summary Balance Sheet

Most Recent Year Prior Year

Cash

$240,333

$0

Accounts Receivable

$472,570

$0

Total Assets

$2,197,922

$0

Short-Term Debt

$769,691

$0

Long-Term Debt

$1,372,000

$0

Total Liabilities

$2,141,691

$0

Financials as of: 07/06/2021
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Ratings

Analyst Report

Synopsis

The last thing most startups want to do is pay an attorney. Legal counsel is expensive, and many startups can’t afford it. But without legal help, startups risk running into lawsuits and other legal problems down the road.

One company that wants to remove this barrier to entry is UpCounsel. Through its service, UpCounsel gives companies the ability to post legal jobs and receive quotes on those jobs for free. Attorneys who are looking to generate additional revenue bid on the jobs. UpCounsel plans to charge attorneys access fees in order to bid on jobs. UpCounsel’s online marketplace allegedly reduces the hourly rate that attorneys charge by more than two thirds on average. 

UpCounsel has also launched a corporate program providing startups with a concierge service in order to match them with attorneys that best suit their legal needs. And the company plans to launch a direct contact feature through which attorneys can pay a fee to allow clients to contact and book them directly. 

UpCounsel’s current Wefunder raise has been rated a Deal to Watch by the KingsCrowd investment team.

Price

UpCounsel’s post-money valuation is $28 million with no discount. Given the business’s traction, this pricing is fairly attractive. So UpCounsel receives an above average price score.

Market

UpCounsel can fit into a few different markets. One is the legal technology market. According to one source, this market was worth $17.3 billion in 2019. It’s expected to grow at an annual rate of 5.2% to reach $23.5 billion by 2025. Within this category, the startup legal technology market is expected to grow from $570 million to about $2.5 billion by 2025, implying an annualized growth rate of 27.8%. 

UpCounsel could also fit in the US online legal services market. One source estimates that to be worth $8.8 billion in 2021. Historically speaking, this niche has grown at a rate of 6.3% per annum. If this continues, then it should climb to $11.2 billion by 2025. Overall, UpCounsel’s market opportunity is small, but the dramatic growth rate gives the company an above average market score.

Team

UpCounsel is headed by CEO KJ Erickson. Prior to taking charge of UpCounsel, she was the CEO and co-founder of Public Market, an e-commerce marketplace. Before that, she founded and ran Simbi, an online bartering platform for freelancers and small business owners. She also used to work for GuideStar, a nonprofit where she led special strategic projects on behalf of its CEO. Before that, she founded and served as executive director of FORGE, an international peacebuilding NGO. Overall, Erickson has extensive experience building, running and growing businesses.

The other key member of the UpCounsel team is Chief Revenue Officer Paul Drobot. Previously, Drobot served as the vice president of sales and revenue at Atrium, a software startup. Before that, he was the vice president of sales and the general manager at Logikcull.com, a software firm for corporate legal clients. Prior to that, he was the vice president of sales at DoubleDutch, an event app company. He also worked at Intuit as a senior sales leader and as a sales and leadership training innovator. Drobot’s valuable sales experience will likely boost UpCounsel’s growth potential. 

Overall, Erickson and Drobot make a formidable and highly qualified team. Erickson’s entrepreneurial experience makes her a strong leader for UpCounsel, and Drobot’s sales expertise should serve the company well. So UpCounsel’s team score is its highest across all metrics.

Differentiators

UpCounsel faces numerous competitors, including Rocket Lawyer and LegalZoom. But UpCounsel has a unique focus on startups and small businesses. And instead of charging businesses directly, UpCounsel transfers these costs over to the attorneys who bid on the projects. This approach has created a legal services marketplace in a niche space. Because of that, UpCounsel’s differentiator score is significantly above average.

Performance

Up until 2020, UpCounsel was owned by its original founders — Matt Faustman, an attorney who once represented Silicon Valley startups, and Mason Blake, an engineer who served as the company’s chief technical officer. But because of poor performance, they decided to shut it down. The current owners acquired the company at an undisclosed price and have since turned operations around. According to management, revenue has more than doubled at an annual rate since the purchase. In 2020 alone, the company generated sales of $1.5 million. In 2021, the projected revenue run rate is $2.6 million. 

But despite this positive turnaround, UpCounsel’s performance is not its strongest suit. The business generated a net loss of $143,769 in 2020. And UpCounsel carries a significant $1.4 million in long-term debt. Because of this significant debt, UpCounsel received a below average performance score.

Risks

UpCounsel’s risk level is notably higher than that of the average startup. One elevated risk category is the market. While the market opportunity is growing at a nice pace, it’s still a small market with a lot of competition. When it comes to investment terms, risk is elevated because there is no discount on the SAFE conversion. On the financial side, significant debt weighs the company down. 

Additionally, the legal industry is (unsurprisingly) prone to lawsuits. In a 2018 lawsuit, UpCounsel was accused of flouting ethics rules and competition laws. The lawsuit has since been settled. But when assessing UpCounsel’s overall risk, investors should keep this in mind.

Bearish Outlook

UpCounsel’s growth potential could be hindered by its small target market.  Its high debt is also cause for concern, and the valuation lacks any discount. Finally, although the company avoided a previous lawsuit, it may serve as a precedent for more in the future.

Bullish Outlook

Overall, UpCounsel appears to have a bright future. Though its market is small, it’s growing at a nice clip. The UpCounsel team is also highly qualified. CEO KJ Erickson has extensive experience building and growing companies, and CRO Paul Drobot has a strong sales background. UpCounsel’s focus on startups and small businesses set its product apart from the competition. And given UpCounsel’s impressive traction thus far, its valuation is fair.

Executive Summary

UpCounsel is an online marketplace that connects businesses with independent attorneys for a third of the typical price. Though the company carries a significant amount of debt and is operating in a small market, its potential to succeed far outweighs its risks. 

The company’s transition to a new team has so far proven to be beneficial for investors. The CEO has extensive experience building and growing new businesses, and the CRO has a valuable background in sales. UpCounsel is operating in a growing market, and its product stands out fairly well among competitors. In 2020 alone, UpCounsel generated $1.5 million in sales. And the company seems on track to continue its growth trajectory. Overall, UpCounsel has been rated a Deal to Watch.

For questions regarding the KingsCrowd staff pick or ratings for this company, please reach out to support@kingscrowd.com

Analysis written by Daniel Jones.

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