Relyance AI, an early-stage startup that is helping companies stay in compliance with privacy laws at the code level, announced a $25 million Series A today. At the same time, they revealed a previously unannounced $5 million seed round.
Menlo Ventures and Unusual Ventures led the A round, while Unusual was sole lead on the seed. Serial entrepreneur Jyoti Bansal from Unusual will join the board under the terms of the deal. His partner John Vrionis had previously joined after the seed round. Matt Murphy from Menlo is coming on as a board observer. The company has now raised $30 million.
Relyance takes an unusual approach to verifying that data stays in compliance working at the code level, while ingesting contracts and existing legal requirements as code to ensure that a company is in compliance. Company co-CEO and co-founder Abhi Sharma says that code-level check is key to the solution. “For the first time, we are building the legal compliance and regulation into the source code,” Sharma told me.
He added, “Relyance is actually embedded within the DevOps pipeline of our customers’ infrastructure. So every time a new ETL pipeline is built or a machine learning model is receiving new source code, we do a compiler-like analysis of how personal sensitive data is flowing between internal microservices, data lakes and data warehouses, and then get a metadata analysis back to the privacy and compliance professionals [inside an organization].”
Leila R. Golchehreh, the other founder and co-CEO, brings a strong compliance background to the equation and has experienced the challenge of keeping companies in compliance firsthand. She said that Relyance also enables companies to define policy and contracts as code.
“Our approach is specifically to ingest contracts. We’ve actually created an algorithm around how [you] actually write a good data protection agreement. We’ve extracted those relevant provisions and we will compare that against [your] operational reality. So if there’s a disconnect, we will be able to raise that as an intelligent insight of a data misalignment,” she said.
With 32 employees, the co-founders hope to double or perhaps even triple that number in the next 12-18 months. Golchehreh and Sharma are a diverse co-founder team and they are attempting to build a company that reflects that. They believe being remote-first gives them a leg up in this regard, but they also have internal policies to drive it.
“The recruiters we work with have a mandate internally to say, ‘Hey, we really want to hire good people and diverse people.’ Relyance as a company is the genesis of two individuals from two completely different ends of the spectrum coming together. And I think hopefully, we can do our job of relaying that into the company as we scale,” Sharma said.
The two founders have been friends for several years and began talking about forming a company together in 2019 over a pizza dinner. The idea began to gel and they launched the company in February 2020. They spent some time talking to compliance pros to understand their requirements better, then in July 2020 began building the solution they have today. They released a beta in February and began quietly selling it in March.
Today they have a number of early customers working with their software, including Dialpad, Patreon, Samsara and True.