We Drank Our Own Champagne (and Raised 16M While We Were At It!)

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It seems everyone involved in technology has heard the phrase “Eating your own dog food.” Yuck. I have a dog and we buy her top quality dog food, but I have no desire to share in her meals. That said, the concept of the phrase is very powerful: believe in your own products enough to use them yourselves. By doing that, you can test and improve your products before giving them to customers, and be your own example of how to use the product best.

Given my foodie tendencies, I long ago started using the phrase “drinking our own champagne” as a more palatable version of the same concept. It’s a phrase you’ll hear me use a lot inside HelloSign.

As a COO I sign more documents than you might think – vendor contracts, customer sales agreements, non-disclosure agreements, statements of work, Business Associate Agreements, building leases, and more. It’s a proud moment when I can use the product we sell to our customers every day… and it’s even better knowing those moments move our business forward.

Recently, we executed one of the most complex transactions a business can go through: a fundraising round. Fundraising is definitely not one of those things that is simple or where only one or two signatures are required. Rather, there are a dozen different types of documents that need potentially hundreds of signatures.

Let me give you some examples of the documents we had to have many (in some cases about a hundred) people sign:

  • A voting agreement that had to be signed by every share- and option-holder
  • The term sheet
  • Series B Stock Purchase Agreement
  • Series B Disclosure Schedule
  • Investor Rights Agreement
  • Right of First Refusal/Co-Sale Agreement
  • Compliance Certificate
  • Secretary’s Certificate (with exhibits)
  • Management Rights Letter
  • Amended & Restated Bylaws
  • And more…

Hundreds of pages required signatures from the investors, the officers of HelloSign, current shareholders, and of course our attorneys at Fenwick & West (who orchestrated it all). Imagine what that would be like if you were to use paper, FedEx, and pens with ink. A nightmare. That’s where “drinking our own champagne” came in handy! We used HelloSign to sign and collect signatures for every fundraising document.

Aside from saving us time (our CEO Joseph Walla estimates it took us two weeks less to complete the fundraising transaction because we used HelloSign!), using HelloSign smoothed out other common kinks. For example, it was easy to cc the right people, and we always knew when documents were viewed and signed because we received email notifications. All this made the raise a great experience for everyone.

We weren’t the only ones excited to be using HelloSign to complete the paperwork. Sam Angus, our primary attorney at Fenwick said: “Using HelloSign not only made collecting signatures and documents more efficient, but it also greatly improved responsiveness, which meant less chasing and more getting the round closed. I think this is an unstoppable trend among my clients, who prefer using electronic signature and record keeping to paper and PDF solutions.”

And Ryan McIntyre from Foundry, who joined the HelloSign board, said it best in his blog post about why they led the round and invested in HelloSign: “If you request a signature from any of us at Foundry Group, be sure to do it via HelloSign! (Seriously, we’re only signing via HelloSign from now on.)

All in all, I’m pretty proud that we were able to “drink our own champagne” during such a momentous and special moment. But before I sign off, I want to mention that this wasn’t an isolated event. We use HelloSign for many of our business transactions (from onboarding every employee to signing our office lease). The result is that we work in a business environment where digital agreements are standard. Things get done faster, important business communications are automated, and agreements can be finalized in a matter of moments. That leaves us to focus on deep work instead of paperwork. Our hope is that every company experiences that in the future! And believe me when I say we’re so excited to keeping building products that will help businesses get there.