Pathways Digital: contract management should be simple
An interview with Andrew Tiernan, Co-founder & CEO at Pathways Digital.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and why Pathways Digital exists?
I've worked in financial services my whole career, since I was 20 years old. Ten years of that was in Australia and 20 years overseas. No matter what job I did, it had something to do with contracts. Living overseas made it even more difficult sometimes to deal with contracts, whether for renting an apartment or buying and selling a house.
For example, once we were selling our home in Toronto while we were stuck in Taiwan during COVID. We had to do that by Zoom, with video signatures and paper documents that were couriered to us, which was really complicated and frustrating. We had to deal with the tax office in the same way. We also had issues when applying for visas to come back into Australia because of miscommunications when dealing with our immigration agent.
Based on my history building platforms for big corporations, I knew there was a simpler way to make the end-to-end contract process more transparent so that everybody knows who's doing what, when and where. I knew there had to be a better way to reduce complexity and remove the opaque nature of contract processing. I knew there had to be a better way to ensure service providers are held accountable for meeting deadlines.
Pathways Digital aims to create the most simple platform for contract preparation, collaboration and managing of contract obligations.
Who are Pathways Digital’s ideal clients?
We designed Pathways for small and medium sized businesses; for instance, a small real estate agent, a migration agency or even a mortgage broker. That said, our foundation client is quite a large residential building company that helped us pre-seed to improve their contract management side of their operations.
But our “sweet spot” are those businesses that don't have a large legal team or a technology team but still want to use digital processes to simplify their contract management.
Does what you’re building also benefit end consumers?
Absolutely. When dealing with big businesses, we tend to take for granted that a contract process can often take a long time and that everything will be taken care of by some big law firm. There's not a lot of personal time and money invested in the contract process. But when you know the steps and how clean it could be, or when you're doing it for yourself, then what we’re building now will really make a difference in saving time and money
Why did you join Stone & Chalk?
When we first started out, we were asked to look at some accelerator programs. But accelerators wanta percentage of the business and they want to put you through a machine with a focus on generating a return. They have goals to meet that might not be healthy for your own timeline. But we still need guidance, and that’s why we thought Stone & Chalk could be an option. Since then, we’ve received valuable advice from partners, mentors or even support with digital outreach. But what really matters is that we can choose when we need help. We can tap Stone & Chalk on the shoulder and ask for it at our convenience, as opposed to being restricted to a program and what is prescribed for us.
Additionally, at Pathways Digital, most of our founders aren’t young and have had careers in big businesses. We know how to navigate a corporate environment and where to get advice from people working in our networks, but we aren’t so experienced in a startup environment. In a way, we have to unlearn a lot of habits. So it’s important to find a place that we could operate in, somewhere we can hustle and help each other out without too much formality.
Another important factor for us is access to people who have done it before. As you know, startups need to solve problems at a fast pace, and being in this community, whenever we have a problem, by the end of the day we could be connected to somebody else who could help us solve it just by reaching out to the community manager. We also like the ability to have corridor conversations with peers. When you're a startup and working from home, you can’t bump into people and ask for advice. That’s why moving into a community like Stone & Chalk helps foster that environment where we can converse in an organic and ad hoc way. And that's really powerful.
Any wins you’d like to share with us?
Moving into Stone & Chalk was an event for us, something we wanted to celebrate because it told people that we're at a stage where we’ve moved out of our kitchen or living room and into an office. It really helps us with our external-facing professionalism.
We held our first Advisory Board meeting at Stone & Chalk just over two weeks ago. People dialled in from London, Toronto, Singapore and Sydney, and the rest of us were here in-person at the Melbourne hub. We had a half day bringing everyone up to speed then got together for dinner. That was kind of an event for us, too.
So, what’s next on your growth agenda?
Our next big thing is closing our seed round and being able to tell the world about what we are doing. We’ve been oversubscribed so far, so that’s cause for celebration already.
We’ve also kicked off our final development push for our MVP. We have a six-week development window before our first release into the market. Communicating this means we're putting pressure on ourselves, but that's good pressure. But it’s important to communicate clearly with our external stakeholders and investors.
How can we help you from here?
We are working with a select number of foundation customers in the property and real estate industries right now. These customers are helping us with the design and functionality, but we’d love Stone & Chalk residents to chip in as well through the Test Drive Tuesday ritual in the next six weeks.