The venture-backed startup, launched last year by technologists Jake Stein and Ben Garvey, was meant to provide a solution to what both had both experienced in previous startups: tedious and time-consuming problems with legal negotiation in contracts. In the spring, Common Paper launched standardized, open source contract templates for nondisclosure agreements and standardized cloud services agreements.
And as of Tuesday, the company is launching its SaaS Agreement Toolkit. The toolkit is designed with three parts to help SaaS companies more seamlessly create and understand commercial contracts. It includes a benchmark report based on data from the proposed and signed contracts of more than 150 companies, a suite of six standard agreements, and a TurboTax-style walkthrough that helps founders customize agreements step by step.
One of the cofounders’ goals was to cover more of a SaaS business’ functions, Stein told Technical.ly. They’ve done so by expanding their standardized contracts past a mutual NDA and cloud service agreement to also include a data processing agreement, design partner agreement, service level agreement and terms of service contract.
The contracts themselves are free for anyone to use. Common Paper treats them like open source code — “you never have to pay us or talk to us,” Stein quipped.
But the company’s software, which provides additional insights and assistance with completion, management and workflow surrounding the agreements, is its bread and butter. Common Paper does offer a free tier, which small startups could likely use, Stein said. But as companies begin using more contracts and up their deal volumes, they pay to use the software.
The team’s ultimate goal was to turn contracts into APIs, and help people like tech founders — who may be experts on software, but not on contracts — keep their business rolling. The new walkthrough feature gives some extra context with guided interviews that explain contract terms, give some realistic value ranges and helps users make decisions.
Tuesday, Common Paper also published its 2022 benchmark report, data from more than 150 B2B companies that use the platform and the Common Paper Committee, including more than 35 attorneys from large enterprises, startups and firms.
“It’s a diverse range of perspectives and experiences,” Stein said. “It’s saying, ‘Here’s what’s reasonable, here’s what attorneys say about what they see.’ It’s a combination of data and expertise to say, ‘In 2022, what are common things people see?'”
The 2022 RealLIST Startups honoree’s team of nine (about half in the Philly area, half distributed) currently targets B2B SaaS companies, though some other early-stage startups could find the contracts helpful, too, Stein said. And though thousands of the contract downloads are done free of cost, the more users Common Paper sees, the quicker it learns more and is able to create a better product, the cofounder said.
“Our goal is for our software to be the best experience for our clients,” Stein said. “It’s success for us if a lot more people use our stuff, even if only a subset goes on to become clients.”
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