Small Business: Angel investors - Jonny Mirkin

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Jonny Mirkin, founder and director of Nomos, creator of a software solution for law firms, based in Dunedin and currently looking for funding

Nomos's Jonny Mirkin (left), Founder and Director with Simon Hibbert, Director.
Nomos's Jonny Mirkin (left), Founder and Director with Simon Hibbert, Director.

Nomos was founded in 2011 by Mirkin, a Dunedin based commercial lawyer, as a result of his passion to improve the legal profession, and his frustration with the fragmented and often outdated software and systems available for lawyers.

Tell us about your business, its growth and your aspirations.

Nomos has created an end to end workflow cloud solution for the creation and management of files and documents for lawyers, focusing initially on commercial leasing. Nomos has been designed primarily to strengthen and grow the lifetime relationship between lawyers and their clients by facilitating communication of instructions and reminders, and allowing lawyers and their clients to access the files and reports they need anytime, anywhere on any smart device.

The seamless and streamlined workflow process removes all duplication, and allows documents to be created and edited within a single platform. As a result, Nomos facilitates significant time savings and improved productivity and efficiency.

The company has invested heavily in the newest technologies to facilitate revolutionary document creation and editing within a browser, and to provide an option for documents to be signed and witnessed electronically.

Nomos was always intended to shake the apple cart in the legal profession and be disruptive, and it's this fresh approach that is already creating significant interest from legal firms and investors in New Zealand and Europe. The intention is for Nomos to globally transform the way the legal profession operates and collaborates. For this to happen, Nomos has to attract the very best talent from New Zealand and around the globe, and is focused on creating an environment which does that. The culture of Nomos is incredibly important- it must be a great place to work.

Why did you attend the NZ Angel Investment Showcase at the Icehouse?

Nomos attended the Showcase at the Icehouse to attract the interest of potential investors who would significantly impact the ability of Nomos to grow exponentially in a short period of time. Although the money is important , it's the knowledge, experience and global connections of the investors that we consider even more important. The feedback has been extremely positive and widespread, nd exceeded our expectations.

What do investors like about your business?

The investors particularly like that Nomos solves a global problem, has created a powerful solidly built platform that can be leveraged in many industries and contexts, has the ability to scale quickly, and has already attracted quality talent and advisors. As Nomos is already in the market, has generated sales, and has attracted the interest of prominent international firms, the concept is well validated.

As you look for external investment, what sort of information are you preparing to give to investors?

This is our largest and most significant funding round to date and the process is different from earlier rounds which tended to be for smaller amounts. Fortunately, we have spent significant time mapping out our business model, plan and projections - so the move to an investment situation has been relatively easy.

We have opted for an open-disclosure model - which we believe is more suitable then preparing a huge amount of cleverly drafted documents. We have granted access to our XERO account, invited investors to make contact with our customers and invited demonstrations of the system and frank discussions about our strategy. The actual 'information' is really specific items in response to a particular issue an investor wants to look at.

What will you do with more angel investment?

Nomos always intended to expand internationally, but a number of opportunities to expand have emerged more quickly than anticipated. The money will primarily be used for additional technical resource to complete technical development of Version 4 and to fund international expansion. With the money, I will move to the UK with the aim of developing the market there - while maintaining the head office and operations from New Zealand.

How would you describe the funding environment at the moment?

It seems that the money is readily available for businesses who are perceived to meet a real and significant need, who have demonstrated their ability to deliver and tap into potential, and willingness to work effectively with investors. Locally, in Dunedin we have found it more difficult to find significant capital, but through the angel network (and in particular the Ice Angels), we have had overwhelming interest in our company and money being committed without too much work. We believe this comes back to the execution of our company - with a strong team, great product and significant market validation - we make an ideal investment opportunity for an investor.

How could things improve?

It is really disappointing that companies like Nomos don't get support from local or national government other than the odd perk - like an intern grant. The process for applying for funds is almost impossible in our sector and a wasted exercise.

This is at odds with the impact on jobs and the economy that companies like Nomos have - and it is a bit of a shame that there isn't anything available for companies like us. We see significant funding going into R&D for companies operating in bio-tech, agriculture and other science based areas, but for some reason our sector seems to be totally ignored.

Angels fill a much needed gap, and currently are the only real way to raise money for a company like Nomos. We are always too early for significant bank debt, founders generally don't have money themselves and with a void where grants should be, private investors are the only realistic way to raise much needed capital. The whole experience has been highly positive and we believe with the funding and support, Nomos has the best chance at becoming a successful international company.

Next week: A while back, I looked at companies set up by men and women who had set up new businesses after their main careers. I recently profiled a young company founder who started up his company straight out of university. He had already been taking on work, so why not? I'd like to hear from young things of 25 and under and hear what you are achieving. Lack of experience can be a good thing. Perhaps you are braver.

- NZ Herald

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