Coming out of stealth mode, the team behind Dori has a big vision for the future of the VC world. Specifically, the Atlanta-based startup wants to “help a first time founder fundraise like a serial entrepreneur,” said CEO and co-founder Sarosh Shahbuddin.
The fundraising world is brutal for most first-time and early-stage founders. It’s not enough just to build your product and a team. Founders spend a lot of their time organizing the seemingly endless amounts of documentation and legal paperwork required to actually close a deal and get a check in their hands.
Through its suite of VC automation tools, Dori wants to level the playing field for founders and streamline the process for investors on the other side of the table. The startup is launching this spring with three products in the market: a convertible instrument platform to help startups raise, a preferred stock financing automation tool, and an investment summarization and insights tool.
From creating the initial drafts of the closing documents to providing benchmarking data, generative AI is at Dori’s core. Shahbuddin said their models have been trained on “thousands” of venture financing documents in order to help streamline the process.
Dori is starting out with a focus on convertible instruments, or deals that center around an agreement of future equity. Shahbuddin told Hypepotamus that the startup already has roughly 70 founders on the platform. Those founders are in the midst of raising $79 million in convertible instruments.
Dori has already caught the attention of investors, as the team announced it closed a $2 million seed funding round from Counterpart Ventures, Correlation Ventures, Service Provider Capital, and a “number of prominent corporate attorneys.”
Shahbuddin said that funding went mainly into hiring efforts and the team is currently focused on fully launching its investment summarization tool later this month.
The Flywheel Effect In Atlanta Tech
One important indicator of a strong tech hub is whether or not successful founders either start new ventures or invest in other people building within that city without fleeing to “bigger” tech hubs. But another marker of success: Are startup employees able to make the jump into the founder seat themselves?
That is exactly what Shahbuddin and Ivan Antolic-Soban have been able to do as co-founders of Dori. The two met while at Pindrop, where Shahbuddin was Director of Product & Engineering and Antolic-Soban was a Staff Backend Software Engineer.
It was during his five years at Pindrop that Shahbuddin said he started playing around with large language models and machine learning. At the tail end of 2020, he reached out to a contact of his in the startup law space. But that contact couldn’t talk for long. At that moment in time, VC capital dollars were being deployed at record speeds and startup lawyers were slammed with incoming work.
Yes, it was “easier” to get VC money back in 2020 and 2021 than it is in today’ climate. But what hasn’t changed is just how much paperwork is associated with each check.
The Dori team was in the middle of building out a platform to streamline the legal document process for startup attorneys when the venture landscape turned 180 degrees. Seemingly overnight, the number of priced equity rounds closing decreased and convertible notes and SAFE notes increased in popularity.
The team behind Dori has been building in stealth mode for the last year, but Shahbuddin said that he leaned heavily on the Pindrop alumni network in order to get this startup off the ground.
“This is a team that I didn’t have to spend a lot of time hiring…we have strong trust amongst ourselves,” he said. “It’s really been about finding the direction, understanding the value proposition and getting the requirements down fairly quickly so that we can iterate on multiple products. Because I think the beauty of the stage that we’re at is that it’s really about ideation, fast prototyping, and figuring out what customers actually care about.”
Convertible instruments are just one part of the investing ecosystem, and Shahbuddin said he sees an opportunity for Dori to bring its generative AI to other aspects of the fundraising world moving forward.
“There’s this path for us to start with fundraising and then move upstream closer to formation [of a company] or go downstream in terms of the more the complicated legal docs,” he added. “And then there’s this corollary in terms of what the VCs are doing to form a fund and administer the fund…so I think there’s a lot of capabilities that once we get into this two-sided marketplace of founders and funders.”