ALTA Member Profile – Todd Keeler – FilePro
Tell us a bit about your background.
Career-wise, I have not strayed too far! I officially started working with our Legal Software in 1999. Even before then I was loosely involved with the company as the founder (David Keeler) asked me to assist with various admin duties and bounced ideas around with me. My role then evolved over the last 22 years, from customer support, bookkeeping and accounting assistance, training and project management through to business operations and HR, sales and marketing and more recently, company management under my CEO/Director position.
Personally, I am a proud father of two daughters (6 and 7 at the time of writing) and like most of us, continue to work hard on getting the balance right!
Describe a typical day in your life.
With my wife being a part-time nurse working night duties, the working day is sometimes sandwiched between school drops and pickups, or spread across erratic hours. The work itself is never dull! The Legal profession is intriguing (evidenced by TV series we all enjoy), and our software touches so many parts of a law firm’s operations and staff, which means no two days are ever the same.
Aside from our product’s core features and assisting our clients with using them, we must always remain compliant with regulations, up-to-date with changes in the Legal landscape, and integrated with an ever-evolving array of IT environments and integrated software.
So aside from my fundamental CEO and Board responsibilities, I do my best to keep abreast of the above, and assist our growing team to remain connected and supported throughout the working day.
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?
My first glimpse into Legal Tech was folding and stuffing envelopes for marketing campaigns as a teenager and being surprised at how many law firms existed in Australia.
As I started working in the support team and engaging with firms, the methods and delivery of support were very different to today. There were none of the remote support and associated tools that exist now. Lots of driving and time on the phone, which in hindsight forced us to hone our communication and relationship-building skills.
The product we worked with in the 1990’s was less complex than our current version of FilePro. However, the desire from law firms to lean on their technology providers to improve efficiencies, reduce risk and feel supported, has not changed.
FilePro has achieved some major milestones – well done. How did the team find the process of convincing investors and target accounts of its value in the early days?
We have always had a strong product and for many years now, a unique, matter-based pricing model. Still, company culture, looking after our staff, and delivering the highest quality of customer support have always been the cornerstones of our success since FilePro’s inception.
The fact that some of our clients have been working with us for nearly 30 years is testament to this culture and our ability to initiate and nurture enduring relationships. I would say that we have always genuinely had our clients’ best interests at heart. Ensuring our clients understand that we are invested in their success, and then following through with that investment without being 100% commercially-focused, tends to resonate with stakeholders in any business.
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?
Being based in Western Australia has historically meant that our growth has been organically focused in the West. We have gradually grown our client base along the East Coast and have a small following in the UK and a couple of other countries, but our biggest opportunity continues to be within Australia.
That being said, with the recent world-wide adoption of video conferencing, we are finding it much easier to communicate and build relationships outside of our backyard. The ability to bring together key people from multiple locations without the traditional travel and accommodation headaches and costs has certainly broadened our horizons!
International opportunities remain an item on our agenda, but I couldn’t say I am in a position to provide advice on growing a business internationally, aside from applying our ‘West-to-East’ approach of connecting with people using technology.
When the time comes for further geographic expansion, I will be seeking other people with this experience and expertise to provide advice to us.
Entrepreneurship can be rewarding and challenging in equal parts. From your time building FilePro with your team, what do you believe is the most important skill or quality for a founder’s success? Are there any other skills you’d encourage a founder to develop?
My journey has been a long-term evolution. I was not the founder, but rather entered the business at the bottom of the food-chain and worked in the trenches with our team for many years. I believe this has certainly helped with asking people to engage with and invest in FilePro, whether that be as an employee, a new client, an integration partner and so on. My experience with and passion for everything FilePro runs deep, which most likely provides others with confidence in the longevity of our brand and experience.
The only thing I would tack onto that so far as developing skills, is keeping healthy – mentally more than anything. The transition into management, and then our Board and finally the CEO role has been challenging.
Working on your personal wellbeing is paramount if you plan on running a successful business, while still maintaining some level of work/personal/family balance.
You’re about to go back in time to give yourself one piece of advice at a time of uncertainty. What do you say to your younger self and when?
I would probably choose 2016, as we took the first steps as part of our company succession plan, and say ‘Todd, you don’t need to learn everything at once! Put one foot in front of the other and you will get there.’
The prospect of becoming a Director and eventually steering the FilePro ship was a daunting one in 2016. Plus, it was a turbulent period personally. So, anything to alleviate the imposter syndrome at that point in time would have been very welcome!
What are 3 things you will be focusing on this year?
My recent shift in responsibilities, i.e., less focused on Sales and Marketing and more on CEO activities, is my main focus in the immediate future.
I wish to cement our currently evolving 5-year strategy for the Board, continue to improve our risk mitigation across all aspects of the business and remain focused on identifying and taking on new business opportunities to facilitate sustainable growth.
Of course, we will continue to do these things while maintaining the ethos weaved into my previous answers – staff and clients will always come first.
Where can we stay up to date with what you’re doing?
We publish content on LinkedIn regarding the comings and goings at FilePro – I would encourage anyone interested to follow our company account.
You can also keep an eye on the blog section of our website from time to time, where there is also an option to subscribe to our eNewsletter.