Forum#legaltech
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8 November 2023
Classify, review and find legal documents with Melior

Classify, review and find legal documents with Melior

As part of our quick founder questions series – or QFQs – we spoke to Monique Duarte, COO of Melior about using AI to process legal documents, building a team and the importance of knowledge and learning.

We use AI to make legal document handling straightforward, allowing businesses to pull insights quickly and enhance their decision-making.

What was the catalyst for launching the product?

We created this product to address a common and significant pain point in business operations – the time-consuming and error-prone manual handling of legal documents. Our aim was to provide a solution that uses AI to improve this process, making it more efficient and accessible for anybody across a business and not just legal experts.

Tell me about the product – what it is, what it aims to achieve, who you work with, how you reach customers, USP and so on?

Our product is an AI-powered tool that improves legal document handling for professionals spanning many different sectors. Our USP being fast onboarding of documents that allows extraction of legal insights within minutes, the precision and efficiency it brings to decision-making processes and finally, the fact that you can just slot us into your current ecosystem without having to change how your team already does work. In fact, we will optimise your workstreams by allowing you to automate them through our platform.

How has the business evolved since its launch?

Since our launch, our business has grown fast. We’ve forged partnerships with organisations like Zurich, ANDBANK, SwissCom, UtiliPay, Sebata Holdings, and F10. But where I believe the most significant exchange is our team. Without people you don’t have a business and we are lucky to have manage to gather a very talented bunch from all over the world. We are very diverse in our backgrounds, age and orientations but we are all committed to Melior’s vision. There is a lot of positive energy driving our team at the moment.

What’s your favourite thing about being a founder?

I absolutely love the responsibility that comes with being a founder. I’ve got a fantastic team of co-founders and employees, and that’s a huge responsibility but it’s a pressure I take on gladly. Plus, I feel a duty towards our clients in trying my best to remove pain points from their working lives. On a personal level, being a founder gives me power and freedom to organise my work life and suit my personal life. I think I have achieved a very good balance between being a COO, mother of three and a wife. It is the best time of my life!

Which founders or businesses inspire you the most?

Deel.com is a standout for me. They’re wizards at employment of record services, particularly for startups hiring internationally. The CEO, Alex Bouaziz, is a unicorn founder, but what’s really unique is that he’s still directly reachable and involved in solving issues, even though the company has grown so much. It’s inspiring how he’s retained that startup CEO spirit. Many startups lose their magic as they scale, but he’s managed to keep the fire alive.

Who else in your life inspires you?

My father is a hardworking soul who loves what he does and isn’t afraid of putting in the effort. He’s a builder, and finishing the job is his top priority, not just because of commitments but because it genuinely matters to him. On the flip side, there’s my uncle, who left behind a promising career to live a simpler, more genuine life in the middle of nowhere. It takes immense courage to make such a 180-degree turn. He knew himself and what he needed. That ability to recognise when you’re living inauthentically and take action is incredible.

What’s your biggest business setback?

I had a previous startup in the publishing realm, and it didn’t pan out. It wasn’t because of the product or the problem we were trying to solve. The real issue was that I misjudged the industry’s direction. It was a bit like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, especially for a startup. But, I learned a ton from that experience, and it gave me a profound appreciation for knowledge and learning.

What are your strengths as a leader?

I’m a natural caretaker. I extend my care to every aspect of my employees’ lives. Knowing them personally allows me to empathise with their situations and do what is possible to help.

What areas are you currently working on to improve?

I’m in learning mode right now. As a COO, I wear many hats, and I need to adapt to what the company needs most at any given time. My background is in product development, so diving into sales, marketing, and PR is a fresh challenge. 

What’s next for your business?

We’re on a mission to establish ourselves as the go-to for precise AI tools in contract management. Our focus is to refine our capabilities, particularly in building trust with our clients. We want to be the undisputed source of truth in our field.

What advice would you give to other founders or aspiring entrepreneurs?

If you’ve committed to being a founder, you’re already showing a lot of grit and imagination. Keep working on your stamina, both physically and mentally. And don’t take yourself too seriously! Entrepreneurship can be a rollercoaster, but a little stamina and a dash of humility goes a long way.

And lastly, tell us about your daily routine and your guiding principles. Any early morning yoga or unique rituals?

I’m trying to incorporate some exercise into my day, but I’m quite regimented due to my roles as a COO and a mother. Mornings from 7 to 9 are all about being a mom. Then, from 9 to 3, it’s full-on COO mode. After 3, it’s a blend of both worlds, where I prioritise my tasks without feeling guilty about what’s left undone – which was something I had to learn to do too! The key is to end my day on a positive note, knowing that I’ve done my best.

Monique Duarte is the COO of Melior.