Written by: Monica Bay, CodeX Blog
July 27, 2016
Meet lawyer Monica Zent, CEO of Foxwordy Inc., public beta launch: Feb. 1, 2014. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she’s determined to convince lawyers to embrace legal technology so they can take advantage of tools that can make their jobs much, much easier.
Twitter: @foxwordyinc, @monicazent
Education: University of San Diego, J.D. (1996), B.S./B.S. in Political Science/Philosophy from Santa Clara University (1992), U.S. Army ROTC, 1989. Member, California bar.
Day Job: 15 years operating ZentLaw, an alternative law firm, which combines the expertise and stability of a law firm with the flexibility and pricing of outsourcing. It has grown to represent brands such as Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., Intuit Inc., Walmart Stores Inc., SAP America Inc., and Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
Is Foxwordy your first startup? No. Like most entrepreneurs, I’ve had some hits and misses. My favorite prior startup was S Music, the music licensing database that cataloged clips, songs, authors and music publisher data.
Problem your startup solves: Lawyers are under increasing pressure to do the same work with fewer resources. Foxwordy makes it really easy for lawyers to collaborate remotely, regardless of geographic location or if they work for different companies, etc. They can work together by sharing clauses, referring one another to potential new business leads and giving each other feedback and insights. Foxwordy is designed to help lawyers do this easily online—more efficient than email and a lot more fun.
Audience & Cost: Lawyers and law professionals in all segments of our industry can request free membership to the Foxwordy network to connect and collaborate via our basic features. Premium is targeted at solos and small firms ($15 per month).
The forthcoming Enterprise will be targeted at corporate law departments, legal associations and major law firms. It will allow corporate law departments and large firms to collaborate on Foxwordy and reach outside their organization to collaborate with other members. It will be sold as an annual subscription.
Any patents? Two have been issued, four pending.
What inspired you to pursue this startup? I heard over and over again from clients that they were trying to create a clause library for their own firms. That led me to an “ah-ha” moment. I realized there was a need to create something easier than email. It was a dual inspiration for creating a clause engine and wanting to offer a platform that helped teams have conversations.
Do you have funding? Yes. We received funding from a private source and have since been self-sustaining through revenue and partnerships.
Biggest challenge: Technology is a great liberator. People rationally understand this but for some reason, those in the legal industry don’t always connect the dots that technology can save time. As with most legal tech startups, one of my biggest challenges is making lawyers aware of Foxwordy and how it can help them.
What do you need right now? In six months? In a year? Right now, we need to make the legal community aware of our network’s new offerings. In six months, we will need to continue to build our overall membership base and drive sales. In a year, we will need to expand our staff to support our ongoing growth.
Who most influenced you?Mike Clampitt, my high school teacher and academic decathlon coach. One of his favorite phrases was “There is no such thing as luck—you make your own luck in life.” I like that and have lived it. He helped channel my highly competitive spirit in the right direction and gave me support at one of the most impressionable times of my life.
The two people who are most important mentors: In law school, civil rights lawyer Mario Conte influenced me with his passion for using the law as a tool for doing the right thing in the world. (He is now retired and teaching trial advocacy at California Western School of Law.) The other great mentor was Ron Kenan, co-founder at Hnina Inc., who was head of entertainment at Saban Studios, one of my early in-house roles. Kenan was a business executive, not a lawyer, and liked to see things written in super short-form plain English. That kind of writing is not what lawyers are generally trained to do so I’m glad that he pushed for that kind of output because it enabled me to become a very skilled drafter early in my career.
What does your workspace look like? (Borrowed from Sam Gosling): It has a lot of windows, lots of large desks, a ton of computer equipment and is very well organized. And, of course, it’s not too far from some great running trails.
What book changed your life?Galloway’s Book on Running. I read it when I was 18. Before that, I was a distance runner. After that, I became a marathon runner. Marathon running helped me get through many rough patches in life.
Advice do you have for other entrepreneurs: Speak to advisors often and early who have expertise and strengths in areas that you don’t. It can save you headaches down the road. The earlier you seek the input of advisors outside of your industry who have expertise that you don’t, the better.
What would be your dream career if you were not a lawyer and entrepreneur? It’s a toss-up between being an astronaut and the editor of Vogue.
What are you afraid of? Too much deep learning in robots that gets out of control, into the wrong hands and then the robots turn on us and try to dominate the human race. Ever see the movieElysium? Some of that is not so far off.
What are you most proud of? Being a female startup founder in the technology world. I hope some of what I’m doing inspires the next generation of female tech leaders.
Favorite vacation destination: Yosemite National Park. It’s a good reason to be unplugged. I love the hikes up to the falls, the incredible views, the fresh air, the trees, rocks and streams. I’ve been going there for a long time—it’s a special place for me.
Favorite musician: Madonna. Her music was coming of age music for me. She brought performance art to the mainstream music scene, and continues to evolve and find ways to stay relevant.
Favorite food: Chocolate
Favorite quote: Make your own luck.
What’s your mantra? Onward and upward.
Aside from family members, who would you want sitting next to you if you got stuck for 3 hours on the tarmac in a 737? It would be fun to sit next to Elon Musk. I’d love to talk with him about SpaceX, Mars and the future