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How to Partner With Me: Kira Systems' Robin Yerex

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“How to partner with me” is a series where we explore the inner workings of partner programs to help you better understand how to build your partner ecosystem. Read previous entrants here.

Robin YerexCo-founded in 2011 by Noah Waisberg and Alexander Hudek, Kira Systems is a Toronto-based contract review and analysis software company that uses machine learning to extract key information from contracts and other related documents. Think of it as the smartest person you know in your industry, who doesn’t get bored by paperwork, and loves finding the answers to your trickiest questions. Trained by domain experts, Kira’s AI extracts and analyzes text in contracts and documents. 

“Finding out what’s actually in your contracts is what Kira does,” explains Robin Yerex, Kira’s Director of Strategic Partnerships and Business Development. “It takes human knowledge and then creates a code that allows it to find data faster.” 

Kira has since evolved in scale and scope. Not only does the software work for lawyers from global top-ten firms, but also for journalists, activists campaigning for the Black Lives Matter movement, and developers. 

“If you think about it, how you play a sport is as much a contract as a document full of rules and regulations,” points out Yerex. “Essentially, you’re asking: was that action taken against the rules or not?”

Kira has also recently launched a Developer Program, which gives developers access to the software’s open API to build products and services beyond Kira’s current capabilities. Answers and Insights is Kira’s newest go-to-market feature, allowing customers to make strategic decisions based on “asking” their documents yes/no or multiple-choice questions to extract insights and navigate high-level concepts.

We spoke with Yerex, based in Vancouver, about the benefits of working with domain experts, how to maintain business relationships when you’re partners one week and competitors the next, and how to empower developers to build something beyond its original use case.

This discussion was edited for length and clarity. 

We’re looking for…service partners. Anyone who can train the software specifically to their contracts, for their clients. We also have service partners who are more technical in nature, that facilitate the implementation and integration work. 

Also, channel partners. Anyone who can recommend our products alongside their services. 

And technology partners. So, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) where an integration offers a full solution stack for customers. We also have developer partners, which is a new venture for us.

We’re well-known and respected for contract extractions and insights. But there’s often more to it, which is where our partners come in. The contracts we deal with may live in a virtual data room. They might live in an online document management system. They might even live in a filing cabinet somewhere. We partner and integrate with companies that store the data in those contracts. 

What we’re excited by is looking for partners who have domain knowledge on what kinds of contracts and negotiations are necessary that can train AI models for clients. Any companies that advise and consult on contracts for industries like law, real estate, construction, pharma, and biotech.

How our channel partnership model works... for the most part, we co-sell with our channel partners at Kira. We share source leads and deals and tell a combined story together really well. We aim for alignment at all stages of the pre- and post-sale process. 

What’s in it for our partner is...We align our marketing efforts with joint value marketing, one-pagers, joint decks, joint webinars, joint stories, and joint virtual events. We align the sales process, too. [Things like…] Getting sales and technical sales together to talk about what a successful integration looks like. Having access to each other’s demo accounts. Having access to each other’s sandbox instances. 

We also have technical solutions consultants that are available to our partners to make sure they’re supported. We’ll build processes for a joint implementation plan and outline what everyone’s roles and responsibilities are, deliverables and schedules, and statements of work. 

And then we have customer success check-ins with our joint clients, together with our partners. This part feeds back into renewals and upsells, and how we can help each other grow our businesses together. If a partner wants to drive a specific area, like marketing, we’ll give them the resources to do that. The most important thing is supporting each other at every stage.

We were recently one of the Technology Fast 50 winners. We had a 693% three-year revenue growth. 

My partnership philosophy is … No one person can do it all. Be transparent about what you can do well. And then find a partner who can make you better, when combined. The client sees us as joint value. You and your partner need to answer to their needs. Our joint solution is what’s going to win, not one over the other. 

How our use case has evolved… We recently partnered with Campaign Zero, an advocacy group that aims to hold the police accountable. They started the “Nixt the Six” Program campaign, which looked at six policies found in police contracts that correlate to higher acts of police violence against Black people. So, they were going through all these police union contracts and law enforcement officers’ bills of rights, trying to find out how the clauses differed according to states and municipalities. Someone from our team on Slack said, “We could help them.” 

We reached out by cold emailing them. We did a proof of concept. They had gotten access to the police union contracts with a Freedom of Information Act request, and they used Kira’s system to look for the six variables — the six clauses — in all the documents. So that’s an edge case for Kira beyond insight-seeking for law firms or corporations: What are in contracts that impact social justice?