Why Virginia Is The Only State For This Startup
Getting a document notarized is one of those necessary things that seems so 20th century. A Boston-based entrepreneur is trying to change that in Virginia.
Why in the Old Dominion? It’s the only state that allows for remote notarization. Notarize, launched this week by Pat Kinsel (above), who sold his company Spindle to Twitter in 2013, is an on-demand remote electronic notary service. The iPhone app makes notaries available to users 24/7 through a FaceTime call. Every call is recorded and software confirms the ID provided by the user is valid. The company also has a desktop app for the notary agents.
The FaceTime recording can also be made available in situations where there’s a legal dispute regarding signed paperwork. Pat says banks are interested in the service because they often deal with fraud cases where someone is saying they didn’t sign paperwork. Now there’s video to prove they did.
Pat, with Notarize's team of notaries, says many states allow electronic notarization through, say, a tablet app, but you still need to sign the paperwork in front of an actual living, breathing notary. Virginia cleared the way for remote notarization in 2011. Pat says many states are considering remote notarization, but his company is able to serve a national audience through Virginia-based notaries. (There are 166,000 in Virginia alone; 4.8 million nationwide.)
Pat also spent time at Microsoft and was most recently a venture partner at Polaris Partners. He decided to launch the company after hearing lots of notary horror stories, even experiencing one of his own. (He went on vacation thinking his important paperwork had been notarized, but it wasn’t. He spent way too long in notary purgatory.) He knew there had to be a better system for the over 1 billion notary transactions per year.
He ran the idea by some lawyers, who gave it the thumbs up. And then he raised $2.45M from Ludlow Ventures, Polaris and angels.
While Pat is based in Boston, he and COO Adam Pase have assembled the main team in 1776-Crystal City, including a development team of 17 and a team of 24 Virginia-based notary agents. The plan is to build up sales and marketing over the next two years. The company is also working on allowing businesses to send contracts through the Notarize platform—using a link rather than an attachment.