ALTA Member Profile – Matt Mills – Boulevard
Tell us a bit about your background.
My background is in finance and software engineering. Prior to founding Boulevard in 2017, I worked in the financial industry with a particular focus on blockchain-based solutions for CryptoCurrency exchanges. Some of the work I have done includes building trading algorithms to trade between exchanges, taking advantage of sentiment analysis, using Twitter, as well as collecting and processing exchange data such as volume and order book data.
Do you remember the moment your journey with legal technology began? When was it and what did you think about the Australian market at the time?
Yes. While working on collecting and processing exchange data it brought to me two main things – first, the potential that blockchain and digital assets have and second the cross-practicability opportunity into the traditional financial areas like shares, debts, and similar instruments. Looking at what was happening in the CryptoCurrency space, I saw that I could bring greater visibility to the financial securities sector. There is a lack of visibility around unlisted securities and other documentation that supports those investments. This creates information asymmetry and a lack of confidence in these securities, which makes transacting them difficult and costly.
Describe a typical day in your life.
The way I describe a typical day in my life can be divided into three parts. As a founder of Boulevard, I am the key communicator and focused on growing the business and this involves a lot of talking about and raising awareness and engaging with the market on what Boulevard can bring. This is particularly evident in the legal space, advising lawyers how Boulevard can support them and make their lives easier. We know that one of the growing areas in the legal space is to help companies invest their capital. We help the private companies’ directors and shareholders manage their shares, ensure that they get what they are entitled to and also look after employees’ options and share schemes to make sure employees are receiving what they are expecting.
The second part of my day is all about technology trends and development. For example, we are doing a lot of work with the ASX in the roll-out of their distributed ledger technology as a service platform. We have an amazing team at Boulevard and I spend a lot of time working with them to essentially shape where the platform is going to be 6 months or 12 months from now.
The third part of my day is taking on customer feedback and helping them make the most of the platform. One of the main things we do at Boulevard is automated compliance with ASIC. We work with ASIC to help companies make sure they meet their Corporation Act requirement, so it is important that we make sure that our customers meet those requirements as well.
Entrepreneurship can be rewarding and challenging in equal measure. From your time building Boulevard with your team, what do you believe are the important skills for a LegalTech founder’s success?
I think there are two key traits for a LegalTech founder to have. The first is flexibility. As the space is moving so quickly, it is important to be able to adapt and shape your own vision and focus. It is important to ensure that the company is meeting the needs not only of its customers but also the needs of the market. Flexibility means that you can face challenges head-on and I think that helps drive competitive advantage. This means that whatever services you are providing you focus on meeting those customer needs and are across the market’s trends.
The second trait is resilience. There are times that there will be some challenges where people or customers don’t understand what it is you are trying to do, or when things don’t work out as quickly as you want them to. Having internal resilience will help you overcome these challenges, as well as being confident in what your company stands for.
Founding a LegalTech company is full of uncertainties and we can then throw COVID into the mix. If you could go back in time to give yourself one piece of advice at a time of uncertainty what would you say to your younger self?
I think the number one best advice I would give my younger self is to build a team as quickly as possible. The reason why this is so important is that when there are uncertainties, it is difficult to bring on investors or employees. So in a time of uncertainty, it is important that you have a stable business model by having a strong team that will allow you to see what you might be missing. As we grow the team and hire experienced individuals in a sale, product, or technology space, it helps us look at things from a different angle. For instance, we have a team that is responsible for face-to-face engagement with lawyers. When lockdown occurred, they were able to work with our technical team to build a digital sales channel that meant we could keep growing the business despite no longer being able to meet potential customers in person. Having a multi-talented team helps us adjust and overcome challenges at a time of uncertainty.
Australia is a relatively small market when compared to the rest of the world. Where do overseas markets sit on the priority list – and what are your tips/thoughts on growing a business globally out of Australia?
For us, we are still very Australia-centric, however, we are planning to work with companies in countries that have the same jurisdictional system as Australia. This is because legal technology is regulated differently in each country, and each jurisdiction comes with its own challenges and needs. However, countries like the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Singapore apply Common Law like Australia, so we will be able to work more effectively with them. When considering a new market we also consider the central regulator that regulates private securities similar to Australia, again making it easier for us to work with them.
As we come to nearly the end of 2021, what have been the three priorities that you focus on this year, and if you already have a plan for Boulevard for the next year?
In 2021, our first priority was launching a disruptive and differentiating platform within a market that already exists in Australia. So, we focus on what we can bring differently, more efficiently, and cost-effectively, as well as answer the needs of the lawyers, and the companies they are working with. The second priority was looking into the needs of our clients and building a platform that helps those needs. We found that many lawyers were looking at helping companies roll out stock option plans, so we built a platform that provides this service. The third priority has been growing and building a viable business that meets our own needs and the expectations of our own investors.
In the future, we want to use the capability and the unique features of Boulevard from the registry, investor relations, and ASIC compliance perspectives to introduce the capability around decoupling the investment timelines of the investors and the companies.
Where can we find more about what you are doing and stay up to date with Boulevard?
You can find us on our LinkedIn page, we post most of our updates for our clients there. We are very excited to be a member of ALTA because we think this is a great opportunity to help us to promote our brand and services to the legal sector and keep them up-to-date with what we are doing. And finally, our website provides all the latest information from Boulevard.
Connect with Matt Mills on Linked In.
Find out more about Boulevard at www.boulevardglobal.com