Creating a new startup is a worthy challenge. Creating market space against a status quo is next-level difficult.
That didn’t scare Vishal Sunak and his team at LinkSquares, and we recently got to hear about their journey on The BragWorthy Culture.
If you aren’t familiar with LinkSquares, they are an AI-powered platform that helps legal teams at businesses write better contracts, analyze existing ones and execute all of them faster. They can help companies save hundreds of hours in manual contract processes and thousands of dollars in outside counsel costs.
Find Out the Problems
It was with the general counsel of many companies that LinkSquares started to develop solutions. Among other things, general counsel at large companies is responsible for contracts and knowing what’s inside them.
There wasn’t a ready-made list of general counsels, so Vishal had one of his team put a list together and the cold-emailing began.
While a lot of them, politely or otherwise, told Vishal and his team to get lost, quite a few — 2,550 to be precise — were willing to have conversations. In those conversations, the same complaints and problems came up over and over. These problems included:
- Lack of standardization in contracts.
- Lack of centralization for storage of the contracts, digital or otherwise.
- Existence of third-party contracts.
Hearing feedback like this allowed LinkSquares to start developing templates and solutions that made sense across a wide variety of clients. It also ensured that they weren’t building a product in search of a market. They had heard problems and thus had the confidence to build software that could solve those problems.
Vishal and his first hires were all graduates of a program in Boston that identified individuals who had the hustle and grit to get a company off the ground. One of the things they learned in the program was to leverage the superpowers of the founders in creating a business.
But in this particular case, none of the team members had software sales or deep AI or legal backgrounds, so that wasn’t the obvious superpower. What it ended up being was a desire to go out and sell the software “as hard as we could,” Vishal says. That commitment and hustle led them to pick up the modest number of five clients by the end of the first year. They increased that to 30 clients by the end of the second year and today, they’re at 700 and climbing.
This all-in attitude in the founding team made its way into the DNA of the company, and “all-in” is indeed a LinkSquares company value. When we asked Vishal about this, he referred to accountability.
“There’s so much work that has to be done every day with the scale of the company, so operating with high accountability is not just how we got to where we are today but how we can continue to grow.” That accountability builds trust for all stakeholders; employees know that others have their back and clients that what is promised will be delivered.
That accountability, in a certain way, starts even before someone is hired at LinkSquares. Vishal thinks that many job descriptions are poorly written these days. “That’s the first interaction someone has with us,” he notes, adding that it’s important to take the time to clearly explain what the position entails as well as the culture that surrounds that position.
That all-in attitude continues on through the onboarding process. Something great that LinkSquares does during onboarding is to have different subject matter experts in the company come to give an overview to the new team members. This gives them a better understanding of their own particular corner of the company, but it hopefully also gives them greater context for how everyone’s effort fits together.
Once new team members are at their roles, they need to be encouraged on their journey. One of the ways LinkSquares does this is via a Slack application that allows employees to anonymously give feedback on any employee, describing the kind of positive impact that person is making. Seeing those drip into the channel is not only a nice morale booster but also those employees are then entered in a prize raffle.
Teamwork definitely functions in a special way in person and, like many other companies, LinkSquares has been figuring out what its working environment looks like post-2020. One thing the company treasures is in-person interaction. At the moment, even with people coming in three days a week, Vishal feels an energy that he wishes he could bottle up and share with the remote workers. The remote employees are given lots of opportunities to come in. This includes having travel and expenses paid for any time they want to come to the headquarters in Boston.
The company also stages two big events for the entire staff each year; a kickoff event in January that makes clear to everyone what the goals are for the year and a summertime event which is a big party. This gives staff the chance to get to know each other both professionally and personally.
As the employees are mixing, Vishal wants them to feel that the company takes diversity, equity and inclusion seriously. Part of the company’s efforts in this regard includes biannual compensation studies to make sure that employees are being paid fairly and are on track to be paid more over time. Something less serious but no less relevant is Slack subchannels for pet lovers, runners and musicians, allowing team members to see just how talented and interesting their coworkers are.
“Diversity is like a mirror,” Vishal says. “When prospective employees look at us, do they see a reflection of themselves?” Vishal acknowledges that this is an ongoing process that can always be improved but that process starts with awareness and a commitment to improvement.
And even better, as employees see that their company takes DEI seriously and they are able to find their own communities within the larger community of the company, retention rates go up. It’s a win/win.
Check Out the Full Episode
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