It’s not often that you hear a founder describe the process of working with an investor as “really falling in love,” but that’s what Lauren Sturdivant describes when she talks about her seed round investor, the Alabama Futures Fund.
Beyond leading the $725K seed round in Sturdivant’s startup, Case Status, AFF has convinced the founder to pack up and move to its home base of Birmingham. It’s part of their strategy to broaden “tech diversity in Birmingham,” Sturdivant says.
Sturdivant straddles two male-dominant industries — technology and legal. As a practicing attorney, she observed the difficulty law firms had in communicating effectively and thoroughly with their clients, making sure they understand the status of their case and that they were happy with their lawyers’ progress.
She founded Case Status in 2017 to bring customer success to the legal industry. The cloud-based SaaS platform allows law firms to automate communication, give clients real-time visibility into their case, and track client satisfaction through the entire life cycle of the case.
Case Status is available as an iOS or Android app, and even allows lawyers and clients to communicate through secure text message. The platform also serves as a marketing vehicle for the firm, allowing them to collect reviews and referrals from current clients.
Overall, Sturdivant says it frees up lawyers’ time, saves the firm money, and generates new business.
“We’ll do client demos and just hear the associates and paralegals saying, ‘oh my gosh, we’ve been waiting for this for years,’” she says.
Sturdivant, who is not technical, raised a quarter of a million dollars in angel funding to build the platform, spending 2017 testing with different firms. They launched a public version toward the end of that year and were accepted into the Techstars Atlanta accelerator in 2018.
Sturdivant moved to Atlanta for the program, retaining some employees in her previous office in Charleston, SC. The program came with additional funding from Techstars and program sponsor Cox Enterprises, which Sturdivant used to refine the platform and ramp up firm clients across the U.S.
Case Status is now employed by over 30 law firms, who use it to communicate with over 12,000 legal clients.
Sturdivant’s move to Birmingham is a condition of AFF’s investment — as its stated mission is to grow innovation in Alabama, the fund only invests in early-stage companies in-state or planning to relocate to the state. Case Status is its third investment.
Other early-stage startup companies have found the Alabama city a welcoming environment. Notably, networking startup Mixtroz moved their headquarters from Nashville to Birmingham after going through a local accelerator and raising a $1 million seed round.
“Birmingham is leaning into diverse founders with diverse ideas. And if you come to them and you are a hustler with a business idea that has merit, they will lean into you. And we have felt that wholeheartedly,” co-founder Ashlee Ammons told Hypepotamus.
Case Status will retain its office in Atlanta, but Sturdivant plans to hire their new employees in Birmingham. She echoes a desire to contribute to the city’s startup diversity.
“I am on a personal mission, being a woman in legal and in tech… to let women know that they can accomplish any goal, be a strong leader, and a great mom, all while following their purpose/mission of changing the world (or an industry) for the better,” she says.