Traklight CEO Mary Juetten on Life, Legal Tech and Simplifying IP
Mary Juetten is the founder and CEO of Traklight, Inc., a Phoenix-based startup that helps businesses and attorneys identify, manage, and protect their IP and other intangible assets. In addition to tracking and monetizing a company’s intangibles, Traklight’s software also assesses risks, expedites the due diligence process, and provides IP protection strategies. The company recently raised $435K and has plans to grow the team and pursue more partnerships. We sat down with Mary Juetten to talk about IP, legal tech, and startup life.
1. You’ve done so many things in law, management, business & financial consulting and startups. How does it all come together with Traklight, and how have you drawn on all those past experiences to build your own company?
Traklight is the intersection of business, legal, and technology. It’s bridging a gap between startups or small business and legal professionals.
Often entrepreneurs and small businesses ignore or misunderstand the need for sound contract, business, and intellectual property (IP) strategies and the professionals who can help. By providing a roadmap plus some education, we demystify the overwhelming issues and legal matters that face small businesses and refer them as educated buyers to legal professionals.
I have always enjoyed designing and building solutions, whether as an auditor, consultant, business leader, or founder. The reason I do not practice law is because developing technology and processes to improve business for consumers, businesses and attorneys is my passion.
2. Tell us how Traklight is a gamechanger for attorneys and startups? How can each of them use it, and how can they use it together?
Traklight automates and simplifies client intake and existing client interviews for attorneys and paralegals. Traklight eliminates the routine in-person, time-consuming Q&A that often fills the first meeting and replaces it with a simple, user-friendly, educational self-guided questionnaire experience. This allows the attorney to start practicing law immediately after reviewing the clients’ Traklight reports. By having the client complete Traklight’s self-guided questionnaire, startups and businesses identify issues, risks, and are educated on their legal needs before that first client interaction. In short, based on client’s input, Traklight’s software raises the red flags for attorneys to address, using technology instead of billable hours.
Attorneys ask the clients to complete the self-guided questionnaire and share the reports using our platform’s encrypted file-sharing storage. The attorney or paralegal reviews the simple Q&A report to prepare for the meeting. For example, if a client indicates that they have contracts with employees and contractors but not co-founders, the attorney can request that the contracts been shared prior to the first meeting and also prepare a co-founder agreement.
3. How can attorneys who may not be particularly techsavvy get the most out of your solution?
Attorneys who do not yet feel comfortable with technology can still have their clients complete the Traklight self-guided questionnaire and reports containing the valuable issue spotting information can be sent over secure email or file-sharing, printed, and reviewed.
4. What can we see from Traklight in the next couple of years?
Growth! We look forward to continuing our relationships with all sizes of law firms and our integration with practice development systems, such as Clio. Plus we have expanded beyond legal tech into new areas such as integrations with accounting platforms and small business software offerings and providing our software for use in CPA, consulting, and valuation practices.
5. Now let’s talk about you! Tell us some highlights from a day in the life of Mary Juetten.
A day in the life should depend on the day of the week but like most of my peers, I work almost all the time. I am doing this interview in the Shuttle from EWR to LGA (weather delays!).
I am trying really hard in 2015 to find that work life integration because for a founder, there is no real balance. My amazing husband also tries to drag me from my laptop but not in a “why are you working again?” way but rather a “let’s take a break” supportive way.
I try to start weekend mornings without email or work until noon. I love to write so doing my Forbes or other writing is not really work to me.
I am a list writer – there is satisfaction to the creation of a plan and then crossing off things throughout the day – and yes, I do sometimes add things that I have already done and cross them off!
I abhor routine so I just take each day as it comes and just get stuff done until I decide it is enough for that day.
6. What “lawyer skill” do you use every single day as CEO of a rapidly growing tech startup?
Critical thinking and triage of issues plus my project management skills from my first career!
7. What skills do you recommend that attorneys cultivate to be entrepreneurial leaders?
Business skills: specifically fundraising, financial projections, and sales & marketing talents. And follow-thru which is different from persistence. The latter is a personality trait that I use in business (and at home according to the offspring).
8. If you could change the legal industry in any way, what would you do?
If I could change one thing, I would have business (not business law) and legal technology be taught in law school (1L) and part of paralegal and administrative training.
9. What’s the single piece of advice you’d give to someone entering the legal tech space?
Design your products or solutions with your customers around their pain points – whether that is the attorneys or consumers. It will ultimately reduce your time to revenue. And be prepared for the long sales cycle if selling to law firms – have enough runway dollars in the bank.
10. Aside from IP, tech and legal tech, what’s a little known passion project you have?
Painting – I recently started taking classes and absolutely love it. Totally different part of my brain and, other than everyone asking me about copyright infringement, there is no legal tech there!
Mary Juetten blogs about intellectual property issues for Forbes. Check out her posts here or reach out to her via Twitter at @maryjuetten. Mary is organizing a talk on IP issues for in-house lawyers on April 1st, so stay tuned for more event details! If you are a startup and want to assess your business risk, try the Free Business Risk Assessment. Any attorneys interested in a free trial of Traklight, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for a Practice Development Assessment.