UniCourt Influencer Q&A with Matt Patel of Malbek
Matt Patel has been in the world of contract management technology for almost two decades. As the founder of Malbek, Matt saw a gap in the market: contract lifecycle management that takes the guesswork and paper shuffling out of the contract equation. Matt works to unite the enterprise around contracts and make the legal ecosystem more efficient, transparent, and easy to work with.
We really enjoyed talking with Matt about Malbek and his vision for the future of contract management. We hope you enjoy learning from Matt’s insights and journey as much as we did!
UniCourt: Tell us your story. What is your background, and what led you to what you are doing now?
Matt Patel: I’ve spent much of my career in diverse roles focused on solving complex business problems, customer relations, sales, and marketing. The unifying thread in each was to understand the organization’s pain points and to find better ways to address them by creating new efficiencies through innovation and delivering overall operational excellence.
I studied engineering at Rutgers and, upon graduation, worked with a number of companies, such as Deloitte Consulting, CGI and more. In 2006, I joined Revitas, which was my first exposure into the world of contract management. I saw first-hand the true need and possibilities for an enriched contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution and how it could be fundamental to businesses in driving higher profitability and lower risk. That experience of over 10 years helped me understand what truly works, what doesn’t, and the deep gaps in the marketplace with existing solutions, which led me to co-found Malbek. At Malbek, we have truly groundbreaking products that unite the enterprise around contracts.
UC: What is Malbek? Can you explain what it does and what motivated you to start it?
MP: Malbek is a modern CLM solution supporting the growing contracting demands of the entire organization, regardless of their size and industry. We provide innovative, easy-to-use solutions built upon a proprietary AI core empowering Sales, Finance, Procurement and Legal teams to improve operational efficiency and do more with less.
This is where I usually get asked “what does that actually mean?”
Simply put, CLM is the tracking and managing of a contract through every step of its lifecycle. From requests, drafting, signatures and all the way through to termination, CLM encompasses every step, including contract redlining, negotiation, approval, and milestone management.
For decades, this was all done by hand or simply through MS Word and emails, which is time-consuming and full of risk exposure, including failing to follow contract terms, missing deadlines, poor visibility, and inefficient use of time and resources, not to mention redundancy and a slow process. CLM solutions expedite the contracting cycle time and reduce risks associated with contracts, improving adherence to contract obligations, accelerating deal cycle close times, and protecting the business from avoidable costs in the case of non-adherence.
We were motivated to create Malbek because we had seen first-hand the inefficiency and money lost in the contracting process, and all current solutions in the market were either too complex and technical with a high total cost of ownership, or too basic to handle complex use cases. What differentiates Malbek from the competition is that our solution looks and feels like a consumer-grade product, works seamlessly with applications businesses already use, like Salesforce, Workday, Slack, and Office 365, and is driven by a proprietary AI engine to uncover contract insights that both protect and propel business success.
We believe contracts sit at the heart of every business, and to truly transform the organization and ensure success, CLM solutions must be flexible, easy to use, and integrate with popular business applications. Only then can you unite the enterprise to manage contracts seamlessly and efficiently. We saw real gaps in the marketplace when it came to innovation and technology and wanted to utilize AI in a way that transforms the contracting process, ensures reliability, and frees up legal departments to manage more mission-critical tasks.
UC: What are the biggest changes you see taking place in the contract lifecycle management (CLM) space? What types of innovations in CLM are changing the way law firms and legal departments operate?
MP: The biggest change I expect in 2022 is for CLM adoption to expand deeper and wider across various market segments and help unique industries with their contracting challenges. Larger enterprises and Fortune 500 companies have benefited greatly from CLM solutions and SMBs have taken notice. These businesses know they need to keep up with the competition and are beginning to trust that they will see significant ROI, improve operations, and grow if they adopt a CLM solution. Small point-solutions are not meeting the overall needs and a platform CLM solution, like Malbek, will gain more traction.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic likely changed how we work forever. Remote work, whether full or part-time, is here to stay. That means more and better tools for remote work, that are cloud-based and support mobile access. Of course, with more remote work, there needs to be greater focus on security. There are now more points of entry for bad actors to exploit. Enacting more effective cybersecurity and risk management strategies to combat threats will be a big trend this year.
Contract Lifecycle Management is fast becoming table stakes. It’s no longer a “nice to have” but a necessity. CLM is changing the way legal departments are working by freeing up time to focus on more strategic, value-added initiatives. At its core, contracts are business documents, not legal ones, and CLM empowers companies to rely less on Legal teams. We’ve seen this first-hand. One Malbek customer shared that they’ve seen legal involvement in contracts decrease to 7% with 93% being done independently.
UC: What are the most common challenges sales teams and legal departments face when it comes to CLM? Why is it important for companies to integrate their CLM with their customer relationship management (CRM) software
MP: Legal is regularly blamed for being a contract bottleneck even when that’s not necessarily the case. They are challenged to understand the overall contract risk carried by terms in existing agreements and whether terms are truly favorable or not. On top of that, legal departments must ensure that all needed approvals have been secured, but they often lack visibility into where contracts are in the approval process.
While Legal is concerned with risk mitigation, Sales wants to get the deal done as fast as possible. They are not usually empowered to select legal language for agreements without consulting the Legal team. And they also struggle to know where contracts are in the approval process.
The integration between CLM and CRM is vital because every minute that Sales spends struggling around with a contract is one taken away from selling. That translates to lost revenue opportunity. When CLM and CRM are tightly integrated, the integrity of account data is fully protected and the experience of drafting, negotiating, and executing the deal is streamlined. Some of the key benefits that business can reap from CLM include faster drafting times, increased contract visibility, and reduced negotiation cycles. Sales can also choose from pre-approved alternate clauses in their contracts as needed, which legal and finance have allowed for in advance, thereby reducing the dependency and expediting contract execution.
UC: What are some of your favorite sayings? Do you have any real-world examples of how you’ve seen those sayings come to life?
MP: I appreciate and try to live by the saying “courage is grace under pressure.” It’s a simple but important message that reminds you to center yourself and understand difficult times will come. Whether it is an approaching deadline, a new product launch, or an outside crisis, you will always face challenges. With a fast-growing startup, challenges come frequently and as an executive I deal with it gracefully to ensure my team doesn’t sense any stress. You cannot control what life throws at you, you can only control how you respond. Grace. Humility. Mindfulness. They help get me through!
UC: What are your goals for the rest of the year? What projects are you working on? Are there any events in the legal tech and legal innovation space we should know about?
MP: 2022 is going to be a huge year at Malbek. Our productized integration marketplace, Malbek Konnect, which allows business users to integrate Malbek with popular business applications through no-code, drag-and-drop connectors, will continue to expand.
Lifecycle AI, our AI-core engine, will reach even deeper into use cases throughout the lifecycle of the contract. We like to say that Lifecycle AI puts the “L” in CLM. It serves as the backbone of our platform and provides users with timely insights and recommendations every step of the way.
UC: Where can we learn more about you and your work?
MP: The best way to learn about Malbek is on our website, www.malbek.io, particularly our blog and podcast. You’ll quickly see from our branding that we are a company that likes to have fun while tackling tough business challenges. There you can find everything you’d want to know about our products and team. To learn more about me, you can see some of my “Malbek Happy Hour” videos where I discuss my life in 2-minute short videos, or simply reach out for a live conversation!
The Innovation of Contract Management and CLMs
Matt Patel is reinventing the way we look at contract management. By streamlining and automating the contract management process, Malbek allows companies to be more efficient, and focus on sales rather than tedious internal processes. We look forward to seeing how Matt continues to reinvent the contract management process!