Business Startup Spotlight: Libryo


Libryo provides simple, up to date, summarized, organized and easily searchable sets of applicable legal requirements for any organization anywhere.

LibryoName: Libryo

Location: Headquartered in London; team distributed in the UK, South Africa and Kenya.


Product / Service Offering: Providing up-to-date legal requirements

Co-founder Interviewed: Peter Flynn

Other Key Management Team Members: Malcolm Gray (Co-founder); Garth Watson (Co-founder)

This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.

Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.

Here’s a personal credo that sums up my motivation: “have fun, make money, do something good”. Life is too short not to enjoy what you do and make a meaningful difference. The money is important as it enables both. I also believe that family relationships are very important and should never be sacrificed at the expense of professional ambition.

Libryo provides an SaaS so that any person, working at any organization, can know the exact legal requirements that apply to them at any time, at any of the organization’s operations, and we keep applicable changes up to date.

When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?

The co-founders worked together at a consultant agency that manually delivered a lot of the material that Libryo automates. However, the online platform was rudimentary. We thought: “that’s a great idea to solve a big problem, but it’s poorly executed.”

Libryo was founded in February 2016 after the co-founders qualified to attend WebSummit in Dublin (late 2015) as an Alpha Startup. We received a lot of positive validation from the VCs there. Next, we got to work on rapidly building out what is now the Libryo Platform.

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What need(s) does your company seek to fill for its customers?

Compliance professionals, working in organizations with complex operational activities and in multi-jurisdictional contexts, daily have the question: “what law applies to me/us here right now?”. Professionals worry about what they don’t know and whether or not they or their organization is exposed to legal liability. Often these compliance professionals are not legally trained and have a very practical and professional approach to compliance. They simply want to know what the law says and how to comply in every applicable context.

LibryoAlso, all over the world, law changes frequently and the volumes are very large, far too large for a human brain to memorize. Legal frameworks are not structured by legal domain, physical location or topic. Therefor, it’s often difficult to get the full set of up to date regulatory laws that apply to any particular place.

Libryo provides a simple, up to date, summarized (in plain language), organized and easily searchable set of legal requirements that apply to any organization, wherever it may operate.

What is one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?

The dataset, content coverage, and the simplicity of the user interface of the Libryo Platform set it apart from its competitors.

Many competitors take legal frameworks and produce derived summarized content from them. As the underlying frameworks change, the derived content does not necessarily change. The Libryo Platform creates a “layer of abstraction” on top of a legal framework, and as such, the derived content on the platform is kept updated with the legal frameworks in near time.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?

There are so many challenges. The most challenging is probably deciding what to do next at any given moment, when so many things feel, and probably really are, urgent.

What resources have you utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?

Since I doesn’t have much time to read long documents, but I do commute a lot, I like to listen to podcasts. My favorites are SaaStr and 20MinuteVC (Harry Stebbings), NPR’s Planet Money and Freakonomics. When I have more time, I listen to Tim Ferriss! I have also enjoyed reading Peter Thiel’s Zero to One and Jason Mendelson and Brad Feld’s, Venture Deals. I use Nuzzel and Twitter daily for industry news too.

What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what would you do differently if you had to start over?

Libryo qualified for the SeedCamp and NextLawLabs in ROSS #LegalTech call out in September last year and received pre-Seed funding and mentoring. It was totally worth it and the best thing for the company to have done in retrospect. We qualified for the Kickstart Accelerator in Zurich (FinTech vertical – one of 30 who qualified from the initial 1,500 applications), which started in September 2017. We are very excited about this, especially as we look to grow into Europe. The founding team has done over 100 pitch meetings for our upcoming Seed Round, in the UK and beyond (look out for announcements soon).

The only thing that I would have done differently is start the pitching process sooner. You learn so much through the process, no reading or classroom teaching can prepare you.

What questions have you had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?

Lots! The most puzzling and opaque is the VC fund raising process, particularly in the UK and Europe (can’t comment on the US yet). “What is the real difference between pre-Seed, Seed, Series A and so on?” We find many VCs promote themselves as doing Seed investments, but actually seem to be Series A looking for early intelligence on later possible deals for their pipelines. So the most common rebuttal we have come to expect is ”great team, problem and market, but you’re too early for us, we’re actually more Series A. Come to us when you are at $X ARR and involved in a few more markets.”

Another question Libryo had was figuring out the “signal vs noise” out there. There is a lot of technology hype that ebbs and flows around hot topics like AI and blockchain right now. It’s a challenge to avoid getting caught up in hype, but also to extract the real usefulness from technologies on the leading edge.

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What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?

As mentioned before, juggling priorities is the biggest challenge for the team. Since business is really about the efficient use of scarce resources. In “Start-up Land”, the resources tend to be pretty scarce! I feel it is trying to make something out of nothing.

What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?

In order to prioritize, I use a hacked version of an agile (iterative software feature development methodology) planning approach. I list all tasks that need to be done and then rank them by “business value” (what its worth to the company) and “effort” (time, intensity and risk of the work). I complete the items with the highest business value and lowest effort first.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?

Libryo is building a “remote first” organization with “management by objectives” (rather than “time in seat”) with an “unlimited leave” policy. This is amazing because it’s likely that it’s the first time in history that building such a working environment is possible.

It’s very difficult to retrofit once an organization is large (which we obviously plan to be). However, while we’re small, we can create the right model. Not many other companies have accomplished this (especially not to a very large scale).

It’s exciting, and our early experiments are returning positive results. This will enable the team to employ the best people for the job anywhere in the world. It will help us focus on measuring only the important components of true productivity and not the arbitrary ones. We believe it will lead to both a happier and a more productive team.

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Are you familiar with other startups you believe should be spotlighted?  If so, we would like to hear from you.  Tell us about them in the comments below!

Sandra Sloan

Sandra has previous supply chain and business operations experience which she is leveraging as an author with FundingSage focused on spotlighting entrepreneurs and their startup efforts.