Interview: Patrick Rogers, CEO & Co-Founder, Clara
This pandemic is going to generate an explosion of entrepreneurial activity the likes of which has probably never before been seen.
We interview VSQ portfolio company Clara’s CEO & Co-Founder Patrick Rogers who addresses how he’s chosen to navigate these unprecedented times.
Tell us about your journey leading up to building Clara
I’m a lawyer by training. I previously worked as a corporate lawyer with DLA Piper and Jones Day, two of the world’s biggest law firms but then had to scratch my entrepreneurial itch. In 2015 I resigned to co-found a new kind of law firm. Clara is a spin out of that firm and we’re aiming to digitize and automate startup legal expertise through a SaaS platform so we can support a far greater number of entrepreneurs than we’d otherwise be able to by simply acting as their lawyers.
How are you coping with the current situation?
Pretty well I’d say. I’m fortunate to have great friends, mentors and family members I can share my concerns and frustrations with.
I think just admitting – and voicing – what could potentially be getting you down is an important part of the stress management process during these challenging times.
How did you recalibrate your operations amidst the pandemic breakout?
At the start of March, we put together a new budget that reflected our pessimistic assumptions about what the rest of the year would look like. And then we made some tough calls early on to reduce headcount, renegotiated most of our supplier agreements, and froze hiring. I’m happy to say that things have been going much better than expected the past few months and COVID also gave us the opportunity to really renew the wider team’s focus on the design and development of our product.
What did you need to adapt or change in your business model?
A big focus on simplicity and steering design and engineering resources to the portions of our business that were revenue generating as opposed to working on new features that had yet to prove their ability to generate revenue. Remote/flexible working has been part of our DNA from the get-go (our team already sits across 7 countries) so the WFH thing wasn’t much of an adjustment, except for team members with kids not in school and those living on their own who needed to manage the isolating effects.
How has this changed the way you're thinking about your business?
While there’s clearly been a lot of personal heartache and business destruction arising out of COVID, we are quite excited about the acceleration it has generated towards all things digital and automation – including legal services. It will end up being a big momentum generator for what we’re doing.
What happens for the business after the pandemic?
We’re building our platform for founders of ambitious tech companies. This pandemic is going to generate an explosion of entrepreneurial activity the likes of which has probably never before been seen. So we’re quite excited about the prospects of supporting all of these great companies on the legal side.
What is something that has surprised you during this time?
Some peoples’ inability to see second and third order consequences of the pandemic.
Lessons learned, final words of wisdom for entrepreneurs, investors or the wider community?
We all have blindspots. Do your best to identify and manage them. An inability to challenge your own assumptions is a big cause of business failure.