Five years ago, Andrew Antos was working on a great idea. His new company, Klarity, will use artificial intelligence to review legal documents, starting with nondisclosure agreements, and save companies money that would otherwise have gone to lawyers or an in-house legal team. The idea for the company was developed while Antos, a Harvard Law School student, was enrolled in MIT Sloan’s New Enterprises course.

By 2020, Klarity had pivoted after discovering that “selling SaaS to lawyers is very difficult,” said Antos. “Lawyers are the only people who really like reviewing documents — it’s their main job — and they don’t want to automate it.” Today, the company’s software still automates document review, but focuses on contract review for the accounting function.

And it seems that accounting professionals want it. Earlier this year, Klarity secured $18 million in Series A funding. So even as venture capital funding slows down, Antos spends every day focusing on growing startups. We asked him to answer our series of questions about critical thinking skills, new ideas, unexpected lessons, and his daily routine.

What skill or skill has been useful to you in your job?

Antifragility. Starting a business is a constant movement of one step forward, two steps back, and being anti-fragile is the most important thing to learn to deal with those setbacks.

Anti-fragility occurs when a company not only survives a shock, but also profits from it. Even when things are going well, you suffer setback after setback. If you are weak, you give up quickly. If you are strong, you give up after a longer period. I have seen it again and again. If you’re anti-fragile, you can go on and on because every setback makes you better and stronger. This is essential because business is an endless game.

What is the hardest lesson you have learned in your professional life? How unexpected did you grow from it?

Corporate sales. It took me three years to learn how to generate leads, qualify clients, do proof of concepts, negotiate and close deals. The unexpected learning was that I got much better at communication.

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Communication is essential for every founder and executive. So that your team, your customers, etc. they can do what you want, they must first understand what you want them to do. I spend a lot of time trying to empathize with people and understand how they see the world and what is important to them. This allows me to give them a message they understand.

The core of the Klarity product started like this: We were going to accounting teams and asking them how their document review workflow was. We asked questions like: do you read a lot of documents? If yes, what do you do with them? Is there an exit? What are the main issues with that workflow? How would you frame pain points?

What we eventually discovered is that the “work to be done”, using Clayton Christensen’s nomenclature, is not really document review – which is necessary but not sufficient – but rather the completion of an “income checklist”. which is populated by extracts from the document but also many other data points from different systems.

How do you and your team keep track of new ideas?

Ideas are important, but execution is 10 million times more important. We use a combination of Zoom calls, Asana collaboration software, and spreadsheets to make sure we’re working well.

What routine keeps you happy, healthy, or productive? How come?

Exercise every day before starting work and intermittent fasting from 8pm to noon the next day. Meanwhile I eat only two meals and a few healthy snacks. I started because my co-founder did and then I read about the science behind it and it made a lot of sense. This and exercise help me stay healthy and productive.

How do you handle stress, overload or burnout?

My daily workout routine and a disciplined approach to my daily schedule. I work out 6-7am or 7-8pm every day and have a stand-up treadmill where I try to spend at least five hours a day. I try to have a good mix of cardio and weight lifting. I set aside at least two hours of focus each day (usually mid-afternoon) so I can get things done too.

What are your most useful sources of news and information?

Bloomberg has the best balance of relevant news for a business leader. Everything is seen from a commercial point of view and is delivered in a very digestible way.

At MIT Sloan we talk about ideas that are meant to matter, ideas that are carefully developed and have a significant impact on the world. In that context, what is your idea that matters?

Basically I believe there are only two things that matter. One: are you working on an idea that has the potential to fundamentally change the world for the better? And two: hold that idea for a long time. For Klarity, the core idea has never changed: We believe humans are wasting massive amounts of time and effort reading documents that don’t matter, and we can use artificial intelligence to automate them, unlocking massive amounts of human potential. It’s been six years since we started. Everything but that basic idea has changed: target market, GTM movement, etc.

Now, our clients like Coupa, 8×8 and DoorDash reduce each month-end accounting close by two to three days, save 87% or more of the time previously spent reviewing documents, and create a single source of truth for all their data entries and documents.

Read: This CEO exercises transparency and openness to crowdsourced ideas

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