Aleman sets sail on Breeze

With his Breeze legal software building an international following, Tulsa entrepreneur Simon Aleman will soon rebrand all of his companies under the software’s banner while adding digital forensics services to the expanding litigation support company.

“This will help us build more of a one-stop shop in supporting the litigation process from beginning to end,” said new Vice President of Business Development Billy Hindman.

Since the October 2007 debut of Breeze, a computer system for compiling multiple legal documents into single digital files for easy database usage, Tulsa developer iDea Mill Technologies has sold 75 “seats” to 41 customers across the U.S., Canada and United Kingdom.

While that software threatened one revenue stream for Aleman’s five-year-old Tulsa company inCase Group Inc., which among its other services would catalog and digitize files for law firms, he said Breeze ended up serving more as an entry-level provider, leaving firms handling large or more oppressive caseloads to continue seeking out inCase.

Together Aleman conservatively estimates the firms will record $1.5 million revenue this year, up from $1 million in 2007. But while inCase continues to generate the majority of funds, Aleman expects Breeze software to take the lead over the next 18 months.

So to maximize the emerging brand’s potential while streamlining and expanding his corporate structure, the Aleman companies will adopt the Breeze LLC umbrella on Jan. 1 with two divisions, Breeze Software and Breeze Legal Services.

The company also will debut a new Web site under a developing marketing plan.

In 2008 Aleman expects Breeze to expand its regional offices from two to five, adding sites in Kansas City, St. Louis and Indianapolis to augment its 2007 openings in Dallas and Houston. Since many of these will be created with Breeze distribution partners such as eCopy, Ricoh and Canon Minolta, each office may operate with as little as one employee, centralizing workload and infrastructure needs with the Tulsa headquarters staff.

To handle these moves, Aleman augmented his executive staff with new hires Rhea Chatham, who will oversee the software’s division and development, and Hindman. As the man who guided the national growth of Vogon before its purchase by e-discovery leader Kroll Ontrack, Hindman will guide Breeze’s litigation support expansion into that rising sector.

While offering electronic services, Hindman said Breeze would focus more on litigation readiness and other consulting avenues, helping companies meet regulations to preserve evidence, keep information, and prepare for trials. This should help law firms trim their costs, avoid pitfalls and generally reduce anxiety.

“Our approach is more of what I would say is from the inside out than from the outside in,” said Hindman. “We will focus on the process and the management side more than the investigation and technical side.”

To handle this expansion, Aleman expects Breeze to double its employee base next year to 20. The company also will invest in more hardware as needs arise.

Over the next five years, he foresees Breeze developing a national network of offices, targeting more midlevel markets like Kansas City than competitive giants like Chicago and Los Angeles.

While such expansions raise capital and risk issues in today’s difficult economy, Aleman expects these same difficulties to spawn increasing litigation, which should spur further need for the diversified Breeze services.

The Tulsa company has garnered development aid from i2E and the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, augmenting its private investor resources with more than $200,000 in OCAST and matching funds. Aleman said Breeze would balance that with conservative growth practices, estimating his costs around 30 percent of earnings before taxes, interest and other factors.

Over the last four years, Aleman said his firms have recorded 30- to 37-percent annual revenue growth. Operating in the black, he expects to maintain that going forward. “We feel like we’re sitting in a good position right now,” he said.

© Copyright 2008, Kirby Lee Davis The Journal Record

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