Christophe Frerebeau is a co-founder of Della. The solution makes it easy to find answers in complex documents. Using proprietary artificial intelligence and natural language processing, Della provides google-like functionality enabling legal professionals to ask questions about their contracts in plain English among many other languages, it then provides clear answers and actionable insight into their contracts and documents.
Christophe has an entrepreneurial background and initially founded the company FundSpire in New Year in 2009 which was an analytical SaaS platform for hedge funds and hedge fund investors, the software was the first Saas-based platform in that domain. Following acquisition some years later Christophe made the move to London to grow an international team for eVestment before co-founding Della with Nicolas Chauville, with offices in both London and Paris.
What motivated you to start Della?
In my previous business Fundspire, I struggled with the complexity of contracts spending hours trying to decipher the content and when the sale was almost pulled due to hidden contractual obligations, I began to think it would be great if I could help entrepreneurs avoid wasting time and money on hidden contractual obligations in the small print of legal documents.
I reached out to my friend Nicolas Chauville, who was working as a quant trader and data scientist in finance at the time and discovered that he was also interested in pursuing his interests in the NLP space. We both recognised that NLP breakthroughs were allowing computers to do far more with documents than they previously ever could, and we were convinced that this technology would soon be key for the legal industry. As a result, Della was born.
Our mission is to allow business leaders to easily access information hidden in legal documents to make informed business decisions. We provide a unique and scalable approach to contract review using AI that is simple to use. Our current offering is twofold: we help review documents as quickly as possible and we help to summarise long documents through the creation of customised reports.
How do you see your product fitting in within the legal industry?
Della is built on a language model (BERT) which means it is already pre-trained on thousands of datasets. The tool’s ability to understand natural language is already very accurate. The more legal documents the tool is exposed to the more fine-tuned it will be to legalese.
In a nutshell, the more Della is used the smarter it becomes and better it becomes at reading legal documents. Della has been exposed to a high volume of real estate leases meaning it has been fine-tuned to an extremely high standard on this particular use case.
With Della, you can create a checklist of questions pertaining to the type of contract review project you need to perform. Della finds and interprets the answer to your questions and presents the answer according to your desired output (date, number, yes/no). This not only accelerates contract review processes, but it also enables lawyers and users alike to find out what information is missing or is unusual in their legal documents.
How has your product evolved since you started?
Our product was quite simple to start with, it answered the questions that users had about their contracts. However, information extraction on its own is not enough. We have spent time mapping out what we understand about our users’ process, and we are gradually expanding to cover more and more of it. This started simply with the normalisation of our answers, i.e., allowing us to turn words into data. Then we built something that could answer simple yes/no questions and further systems allowing some simple logic rules to raise red flags.
What is your long-term goal for Della?
Our long-term goal is to help clients resolve complex and unusual situations. Today we are focusing on providing a solution that speeds up legal documents review for any kind of document. We want to see as many legal documents with as many questions as possible. We focus on targeting law firms and large legal departments that have specific business needs linked to their legal documents. We want to be able to aid lawyers dealing with overly complex document review and scale up from there.
What traction and challenges have you seen so far?
Our most advanced use cases for law firms are real estate lease review projects and we are working with several large law firms to tackle the challenge of reviewing these documents quickly and creating customised, near client-ready reports to automate the process which we have had some great feedback on. We have also had some great traction with the construction industry.
Our biggest challenge now is determining what our focus should be in the short-term to ensure our traction continues and to then look at widening our use cases.
What is one piece of advice you would give to people starting out?
Face your fears and take the risks, figure out early on what bad scenarios mean to you and get comfortable with the idea of it happening so you can press ahead freely. The most important things to you should be your team, your clients, and your investors.
Make sure you start small with your goals, focus on the first hill to climb before aiming for more. You will soon be looking back at what you have accomplished and feel amazing about what is to come next.