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ContractZen cuts contract chaos with the cloud

ContractZen’s cloud-based combination of contract, board meeting and financial management means farewell paperwork.Istock.com/Viorika

A new Finnish cloud service combines contract management, document sharing and e-signatures to ensure critical documents are never lost again.

Contract management should be the easy part of business today. Which is why the number Markus Mikola, CEO at ContractZen, lays on the table is so striking: up to 20 per cent of all contracts globally are permanently misplaced.

“Many companies say they have various tools for managing documents, but still their contracts are scattered around,” Mikola explains. “Some are in centralised archives, but most are on people’s computers and email. There are many reasons for this, but often the biggest ones are the complexity and price of contract management systems.”

This is where ContractZen steps in. The startup has developed an easy-to-use cloud service (also called ‘ContractZen’) where companies can securely manage their contracts, board meetings and key documents. Targeted at companies of all sizes, its pricing is based on monthly subscriptions with no setup fees.

This might not sound revolutionary, but it is a combination Mikola says makes ContractZen unique. While other tools for document and meeting management exist, the Helsinki-based startup claims to be the only to offer a cloud solution that merges them into a single service. It also throws in electronic signing and virtual data rooms for document sharing.

“There is a need for this package we have built everywhere. Our service works both for a small startup and a big global corporation,” Mikola enthuses. “We already have customers in 15 countries, in Asia, Europe and North and South America.”

“For a SaaS service to succeed, it needs to be easy to find, try, understand, use and buy. If one of these fails, that’s the end,” says Markus Mikola. Image: ContractZen

Cloud power

ContractZen stems from Mikola and co-founder Riitta Raesmaa’s own experiences. As IT consultants, they have seen the problems (and extra costs) caused by missed contract deadlines or not finding the right documents.

“We started to think why this hasn’t been fixed yet even though big corporations have spent billions to address it?” Mikola recalls. “Everyone should know what has been agreed, be reminded of important dates and be able to find the needed documents wherever and whenever.”

But creating a service like ContractZen required the right timing. Mikola says building it would have been too expensive even five years ago, but by 2014 cloud technologies had matured enough to change the situation. The first version of ContractZen was launched in July 2015 and focused solely on contracts.

It was ContractZen’s customers who then started to ask for features to manage all the key documents in a company. Today, backed by over a million euros in funding, the startup’s aim is to cover all the materials that determine the value of a company and would interest a potential investor, buyer or even the taxman.

Step up the game

This all-in-one approach has also caught the interest of several big brands. A significant partner for ContractZen is accountancy and consultancy giant PwC, which offers the cloud service to its customers across Finland. The startup is also part of Microsoft’s global programmes and has integration agreements with services such as Assently and Adobe Sign.

The next step for ContractZen is to shift gears in sales. So far, the startup has built up its customer base through online marketing and resellers, but eventually Mikola envisions the company having a physical presence in key markets, notably the UK and the US.

These helping hands will be needed for ContractZen to reach its goal of hundreds of thousands of users within the next three years.

“Of course, nothing stops us from having even more users, but that is a challenging goal,” Mikola says. “We want to be a cloud SaaS [Software-as-a-Service] service for all companies and also help small entrepreneurs succeed.”

ContractZen believes the next major evolution in contract and document management are electronic signatures and metadata-based searches. Both are already part of its cloud software. Image: ContractZen
By: Eeva Haaramo