The notary profession has a long history that can be traced back to the Roman empire. Today, there are approximately 4.4 million notaries in the United States and finally the notarization process is becoming more convenient due to innovative companies like Notarize. It’s the first notary public platform allowing any person or business to get documents legally notarized online, 24×7. Notarize is accessible on any device and connects users to a notary via a live audio-video call after users upload their documents and identification. The time from start to finish is less than 15 minutes and doesn’t require you to go anywhere. Currently, the platform supports the 27 states that have already adopted remote online notarization. With the pandemic bringing everything online, Notarize has experienced significant demand in real estate transactions, notarizing $7B+ worth of transactions in June alone, as people take advantage of low-interest rates.
Boston TechWatch caught up with CEO Pat Kinsel to learn more about Notarize’s explosive growth. In the past 90 days, Notarize has onboarded over 1.6K notary applicants and is partnering with payment provider Stripe to facilitate instant payouts to notaries. Notarize has raised a total of $47.3M across four rounds.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
$35M Series C, led by Camber Creek and Polaris Partners.
Tell us about the product or service that Notarize offers.
Notarize is the first notary public platform allowing any person or business to get their documents legally notarized online. Notarize is also the first company to enable an entirely online real estate and mortgage closing process. Founded in 2015, Notarize has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals and businesses (on every continent, except Antarctica) get documents digitally notarized.
What inspired the start of Notarize?
I was in a situation where I needed a document legally notarized while traveling and realized the inconvenience of in-person notaries.
How is Notarize different?
After leading a five-year campaign to gain acceptance for remote online notarization, Notarize is in use nationally by many of the country’s leading companies. This progress has spurned 27 states to adopt remote online notarization, enabling their notaries to meet clients online. Notarize’s platform enables legal, secure notarization of transactions of vital documents using two-way audio-visual communications. It is in use by leading legal, real estate, financial, and healthcare organizations.
What market does Notarize target and how big is it?
We target any industry that requires legally notarized documents such as mortgage, refinancing, insurance, automotive sales, healthcare wills, and proxies.
What’s your business model?
Notarize has in-house notaries and also provides a platform for independent notaries to use.
How has COVID-19 impacted the business?
Notarize experienced 400% growth in 90 days to keep up with the demand for online notarization due to COVID-19. The platform surpassed 100,000 digital real estate closings.
What was the funding process like?
Notarize has always resonated with investors who understand real estate and the other industries we play in. Many traditional VCs ask, “how does a notarization impact a real estate closing?” without realizing that it’s the main event and the entire reason you have to drive into a title office or have someone come to your dining table to close. Yes, we offer online notarization, but it’s just a wedge to digitize business processes and we like investors who understand the impact. And we raised this round pre-COVID, so it was your typical fly around and meet with lots of firms process.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
For years it was the regulatory barriers that we faced. People just didn’t believe that we could go and change federal and state laws or policies. But we have. In this round, it was really all about margins and unit economics. But we had more than a 100-point swing and more recent customer cohorts are operating with contribution margins in the 70s and 90s. That took a lot of work, which not only showed that Notarize is a great business at scale, but also that the management team knows how to operate the business.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
We’ve always had an incredible impact and an amazing set of partners and customers. Many of the country’s largest homebuilders, lenders, and title companies are customers of Notarize. It’s taken years, but with their help, we’ve finally learned how to scale all of those customers and revenue has grown as a result. Seeing that, plus our ability to do it more repeatably!
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Notarize is growing like crazy right now. I think volume will grow another 5x before the year-end.
What advice can you offer companies in Boston that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
There are always exceptions, but I think most companies won’t be able to raise for another 18 months and should act accordingly. Travel, food tech, but also most companies that sell into small businesses … it’s going to be a tough time to grow and an even tougher time to convince investors that you can. I also wouldn’t be surprised if consumer discretionary spending drops again and consumer-directed software companies take another hit. Ad spend going south with it. For all these reasons, it’s a great time to start something. Lots of talent on the market and it’s easier to start a new business that builds itself up over 18 months than it is to sustain one that’s scaling back.
It’s a great time to start something. Lots of talent on the market and it’s easier to start a new business that builds itself up over 18 months than it is to sustain one that’s scaling back.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We’re focused on winning the market. We have the market-leading solution, but we also want to win based on our marketing, sales, and customer execution. Companies are unstoppable if you can execute at both ends at once and we’re getting there, so you’ll see some more great talent join the company. You’ll also see us continue to partner and integrate so it’s easier for industries to adopt our platform. And we’re setting ourselves up to bring a few new products to market at the beginning of next year. Whether it’s policy, process, or product, we take pride in innovating and we plan to stay ahead of the market.
What is your favorite restaurant in Boston?
There are many restaurants I love, but if you want to know where I eat the most from it would be House of Siam on Columbus Ave. Delivery. Sustains me.
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