Startup Snapshot: Haley Altman—Doxly
Meet Indianapolis-based Haley Altman, 36, CEO of Doxly, which launched July, 2016.
Education: Indiana University, McKinney School of Law, J.D., 2006. DePauw University, B.A., Chemistry and Political Science, 2002. Member of the California and Indiana bars.
Past significant jobs: Before starting Doxly, I spent 10+ years as a corporate attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati and Ice Miller. My focus was in corporate and securities law and working with emerging growth companies and venture capital firms. I made partner at Ice Miller and co-led the venture capital vertical.
Is this your first start-up? Doxly is the first start-up that I have founded. I previously worked at a health care start-up, Engineered Care, in business development and legal affairs. I also counseled many start-ups throughout my career as an attorney.
What problem does your startup solve? Doxly helps lawyers work closely with clients to get deals done. We bring the tools used by lawyers during the transactional process (email, word documents, checklists, data rooms, signature packets, closing books, etc.) into one system so that everyone can collaborate.
Doxly automates standard diligence and closing checklists to provide a real-time view into the status of the transaction. It includes project management tools that attorneys can use to manage to-do list and keep track of tasks assigned to team members and clients. Users can also extract data from their deals for request for proposals and business development purposes.
Audience: Transactional attorneys, including corporate and real estate. Doxly is relevant for firms of all sizes that have a transactional practice.
How did you come up with the name?We created the name and initial brand during High Alpha’s Sprint Week. We chose a short, crisp name that invoked the innovative nature of our product while focusing on the core of our product: the document.
Is Doxly on the market? Yes, we brought our first customer, Ice Miller onto the platform in September, 2016.
What does it cost? We have not yet announced our pricing.
Do you have any patents? No.
What inspired you to pursue this startup? The idea for Doxly was born at 3 a.m. while a colleague, Elizabeth Brier, and I sat surrounded by dozens of manila closing folders, hunting through hundreds of pieces of paper for one missing signature page. A $32 million dollar closing scheduled for the next day hinged on that one page. In that moment, I realized there had to be a better way to close deals. We did end up getting the last signature page signed and closed the deal, but the idea for Doxly stuck with me ever since.
I brought the idea to High Alpha, an Indianapolis-based venture studio, which has a venture capital arm that conceives, launches and scales cloud companies like Doxly. We participated in Sprint Week, a four-day business design exercise that focuses on building a “minimally viable business”—including branding, prototyping and go-to-market strategy. Shortly after Sprint Week, I left Ice Miller to partner with High Alpha and launch Doxly.
Do you have funding? Yes, in September of 2016 we announced a $2.25M Seed financing round. Investors in that round included Nextlaw Labs, Hyde Park Venture Partners, and High Alpha Capital. Nextlaw Labs is a business accelerator, developed by Dentons, that focuses on investing in, developing and deploying new technologies to transform the practice of law. Nextlaw brings expertise and brand recognition within the legal profession; Hyde Park and High Alpha provide software expertise.
What is your biggest challenge: Disrupting the status quo. Attorneys are used to running deals with static checklists. We want to show lawyers how, by using technology, they can more effectively monitor transactions and bring more value to their clients.
What do you need right now? In six months? In a year? Right now: Build our customer base to get as much feedback as possible. Six months: Turn initial usage into wide-spread adoption. We want our initial customers doing their third or fourth deals with Doxly. In a year: Expand our team and create additional transactional options.
What have you learned that you wish you knew five years ago? To not dwell too much on things you cannot change. You have to constantly move forward. Every setback is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Who most influenced you and how? Janet Evans, distance swimmer. I have been a competitive swimmer for almost my whole life. As a young girl, I looked up to Evans, who at 15 years old broke world records. She had an incredible work ethic, yet she always had a smile on her face and seemed so positive and supportive of everyone around her. I was lucky to meet her—and I’ve carried that work ethic throughout my life, both in the pool and in my career.
Most influenctial two mentors? Harry Gonso helped me find my place as a young associate at Ice Miller. He taught me about building relationships with clients. When I made the move to Wilson Sonsini, he remained a trusted confidant. As I transitioned back to the Midwest, he helped me find my way back to Ice Miller. He advised me as I navigated the partnership track within the firm and helped me learn how to bring on and grow client relationships.
I have never met anyone like Kristian Andersen, a designer, founder and investor. (He is a co-founder of High Alpha.) Andersen is impressive, energetic and creative. He helped me find the courage to jump into the start-up world and continues to provide guidance and sage advice on how to build a company. He has taught me that great products start with great design.
The book changed your life: As a child, Where the Red Fern Grows opened up my eyes to how books can transport you to another place and make you feel many emotions. I have been a voracious reader ever since.
Advice for other entrepreneurs: Surround yourself with people who compliment, but don’t match, your main skill set. If you have a technology focus, partner with someone who has more of a business/sales focus. If you have more industry experience, look for people who can help round out your business. You can learn so much from people that have a different background and viewpoint.
What are you afraid of? Disappointing people.
What are you most proud of? Serving as a mentor to the next generation of lawyers and tech entrepreneurs. As I built my career to make partner, I saw many women succeed at Ice Miller—but as I talked to other women, I came to realize the need for mentorship in these communities. I now serve on the advisory committee for the Central Indiana Women’s Business Center and previously served on the national board of Pass the Torch for Women.
What would be your dream career if you were not a lawyer and entrepreneur? A doctor. I am actually a chemistry/political science double major, and was a science research fellow. I started doing cancer research in high school and intended to go to medical school. But through a lobbying internship at Ice Miller, I realized that I wanted to find ways to help people—and that I might do it more effectively by supporting companies that could impact the world.
What does your workspace look like? (Borrowed from Sam Gosling.) We are in close quarters, but with tons of windows and white boards to help us collaborate on our vision of Doxly.
Favorite vacation destination: I love going to South Haven, Michigan with my family. We stay at a house together on the water and spend a week relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.
Favorite musician or group: My first dance with my husband at our wedding was to a song by the band Lifehouse. They are one of my favorites because the words of their songs capture so much emotion.
Favorite food: Sushi.
Favorite quote: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” —Maya Angelou.
Mantra: Just keep swimming.
Who would you want sitting next to you if you got stuck for three hours on the tarmac in a 737? Tina Fey. If you must be stuck somewhere, you might as well enjoy your time and learn how to balance being a fierce female with an amazing career and being a mom.