Nakhoda is a legal technology start-up backed by global law firm Linklaters which is headquartered in London. Consisting of a team of product managers, designers and developers, its aim is to find creative new ways to deliver legal advice through the use of technology and to enable the use of legal data as a driver for value creation.
We spoke to Shilpa Bhandarkar, CEO of Nakhoda, about the thriving legal tech scene and why the UK is driving this market.
What does your company do?
Nakhoda is a legaltech start-up founded in 2017 and backed by Linklaters. The ambition is to build bespoke technology solutions that are useful to our clients and where none exists in the market.
Our flagship product is CreateiQ, a digital contracting platform that captures structured data from all types of legal contracts at source. Our platform allows users to create, manage, negotiate and settle contracts safely and securely in one place. They also have access to all the data in their contracts in real time and in a format that can be easily linked electronically to other systems within their institutions, enabling data-led decision making and enhanced risk management. We've already deployed this technology in the derivatives space through ISDA Create and count many of the world’s largest financial institutions as our users.
Tell us about your UK and global operations.
Our team is predominantly based out of London, but we also have team members in New York and Hong Kong. We are a small team and very much operate as a start-up, so have no “global operations” to speak of. However, we do leverage the resources and operations of Linklaters’ global network, which gives us scale and opportunities beyond what is usually accessible by a start-up of our size.
London is both a large tech hub as well as a global financial services centre, which means we have our talent in the same place that we have our clients. That is very hard to replicate in other jurisdictions where these hubs are often split between different cities.
What are the benefits of being UK based?
London is unique in a number of ways. The most important thing for any start-up is access to talent. London gives you that access in a way that very few other cities do. It is a city that talented people across a wide array of skillsets treat as home. I can find high quality technical developer talent. I can also find high quality creative and design talent.
The next is access to clients. London is both a large tech hub as well as a global financial services centre, which means we have our talent in the same place that we have our clients. That is very hard to replicate in other jurisdictions where these hubs are often split between different cities. For example, while New York is the financial capital of the US, San Francisco is the tech capital. Similarly, in Germany, you have a split between Frankfurt and Berlin.
And finally access to funding. London, and the UK more broadly, affords access to capital from seed rounds all the way through to capital markets raises.
I think UK based start-ups quickly become part of this innovative ecosystem – access to talent, access to clients, access to finance, and supported by a strong regulatory regime and legal system.
UK based start-ups quickly become part of this innovative ecosystem – access to talent, access to clients, access to finance, supported by a strong regulatory regime and legal system.
What are your company's growth ambitions and how does the UK feature in these?
We are only getting started! The legal services industry is ripe for digital transformation and the pandemic has accelerated this growth as lawyers have adopted new forms of technology over the last 12 months to reflect new ways of working.
While our ambitions our global, I think we will always maintain a strong UK presence for the reasons we’ve talked about.