Tulsa software developer may hold iDea Mill Tech’s killer app

Breeze promises low-cost revolution in loading litigation databases

Litigation software developer Simon Aleman may be sitting on a gold mine in his latest product, Breeze.

“It’s really a slick little application for getting documents that we have TIF files for but we don’t have load documents or OCR,” said Karl M. Kindt, the litigation support and media technologist for Lewis, Rice & Fingersh LC of St. Louis.

Released 45 days ago by Aleman’s firm iDea Mill Technologies, Breeze provides an in-house solution for a problem law firms often outsource to litigation service companies – the need to transfer multi-page TIF or PDF files into single-page TIFs to load into database programs like Summation, Concordance, Trial Director or Sanction.

With extra bundles, Breeze also provides optical character recognition (OCR) and stamps imaged documents with Bates numbers or other designations, all handled by an operating system users can pick up at a glance.

Counting sales not by customer but by “seat,” Aleman said iDea has garnered 27 seats since they started marketing Breeze 30 days ago. That client list ranges from Lewis, Rice to Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt PC of Alexandria, Va.

“We anticipate by the end of the year we will be selling 100 to 150 seats a month,” said Aleman.

Several national firms are in negotiations to add Breeze, with one of the 25 largest expressing interest in using it worldwide – a deal that could translate to $300,000 or more for iDea.

“That’s just from one firm – and they called us,” he said.

Aleman said the product so enamored testers at Merrill Corp. of St. Paul, Minn., that the nation’s largest litigation consultant named Breeze a Tier 1 product – one of only three to earn their highest designation.

“Everyone who demos it gets it,” said Aleman, who also owns the four-year-old Tulsa-based litigation service company inCase Group Inc. “For us, selling the product isn’t convincing them to get it. The challenge is getting them to look at it.”

Price strategies

Priced at $850 for the base product, $1,595 bundled, plus a $150 annual maintenance fee, Aleman said many law firms could find Breeze paying for itself with just a few uses, since outsourcing files for imaging and loading can cost from 3 to 7 cents per page by firms like inCase.

“If we would have sent all of these jobs out that we would have been doing in house, I would say probably within five or six jobs it had already paid for itself,” said Kindt, who beta-tested the program and considers it superior to every vendor program he’s tried, all many times more expensive. “We use it just about every single day.”

Breeze also provides a platform where law firms may either pocket the saved expense and improve their profitability, or pass the savings on to their clients.

Aleman said some observers have questioned why he keeps the Breeze price so cheap. But with a $2.6 billion market available to him, composed of 1 million attorneys charted by the American Bar Association, with 273,000 unique phone listings for law firms across the United States, Aleman saw no need to limit his marketplace by price.

“We felt like going for the numbers,” he said. “My goal is to get it on every paralegal desk.”

Kindt, who teaches legal software and hardware classes at Webster University, said many law firms would want a copy of Breeze at every litigation support person’s desk. Lewis, Rice, which has 130 attorneys at its downtown St. Louis headquarters and another 30 at various other offices, now has about three Breeze seats. He expects it to add “probably at least 10 more seats” in the near future.

A killer app?

Aleman saw the need for a product like Breeze when eCopy.com asked him to develop connecting software for output scanning devices to legal forms. He recognized the vital missing step in the post-scan process, one needed to make these images work with litigation databases.

That spurred him to create the code over six months of his spare time, using gallons of sweet tea to keep himself awake during those midnight oil sessions.

“I’m a workaholic guy,” he said. “My normal day’s around 10 to 12 hours long.”

Since software is a high-margin industry, with nearly all of his production costs wrapped up in his own time, Aleman considers every dime of Breeze revenue a dime of iDea income – with a lot of potential ahead. He projects he could see revenue of $1 million in its first year.

Breeze also provides a framework for continual growth. Aleman will soon add an image sorting and organizing tool, as well as a bar code breaking module. His goal is to add some new ability to Breeze every four to six months, with e-discovery additions coming down the road.

Ironically, Breeze could represent a major threat to litigation support firms like inCase – although Aleman said that type of day-to-day document turnaround business represents only a small part of inCase’s workload. He also suggested even firms that use Breeze would probably continue to outsource “that 100-box job, and perhaps even that 20-box job.”

Kindt agreed.

Although he considers Breeze “better than any of the vender applications we have used,” Kindt hesitated before calling it a “killer app.”

“I was trying to think of something similar,” he said. “I was trying to think of something that would be akin to this. There’s some really huge, expensive programs that cost $5,000 or more that would do what Breeze does, but they also a lot of things we don’t do and we don’t need.

“This Breeze product is very handy,” he said. “They call it the ‘Swiss army knife of applications,’ and I think that’s right.”

Aleman expects to garner that same enthusiasm when iDea makes its first formal presentation of Breeze at the LegalTech New York 2008 trade show, Feb. 5-7 at the Hilton New York Hotel.

“Large things are in the works,” he said. “People will walk away from that show talking about Breeze.”

© Copyright 2007, Kirby Lee Davis The Journal Record

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