Why we built Heretik
on Relativity

Rishi Khullar | September 28, 2018

Relativity Fest is in full swing at the Hilton Chicago. As we’ve been enjoying the many opportunities, (stop by our booth or the #DiveIntoYourData experience in meeting room 4K) we wanted to take time to reflect on why we chose Relativity as the foundational platform of Heretik in the first place.

Before jumping into why we built on Relativity, it’s worth exploring the more general question of why any startup should build on top of a platform when they go to market.

Isn’t it risky to build on a platform?

What if the platform shuts off or makes it prohibitively expensive to develop on it? What if the platform clones your entire product? Building your business on a platform is certainly not without risk.

The best way to assess this risk is to put yourself in the shoes of the platform. If you’re a successful company with hundreds of thousands of users giving you feedback, you probably have a very long roadmap packed with features spanning years of development work. Since you need to focus on attacking the highest priority problems & opportunities before you, a platform can help you realize your vision faster. As such, you wouldn’t want partners building things that incrementally improve on your product’s core offerings – enhancements you’re either already building or planning to build soon.

As an example, Slack’s VP of Product, April Underwood, gave this advice to developers building on Slack:

‘’If the end goal for what you’re building is to make using Slack better, … then I would recommend trying to think more broadly and to try to solve a broader problem than trying to make the experience on [the] platform a little bit better.”

At Heretik, we are absolutely solving a broader problem – an entirely new use case for Relativity, expanding its scope beyond litigation. We aren’t filling gaps in the near-term Relativity roadmap. We built a machine learning pipeline in Relativity for contract analysis and a custom, modern contract viewer from the ground up precisely because we have our own vision at Heretik and unique opportunities before us. We’re solving the broader problem of structuring the world’s contract data.

It’s also crucial for us to provide value back to Relativity. We want to explode the number of Relativity users and the types of legal documents in the system. We are already seeing global organizations looking to standardize on Relativity across all departments because Heretik unlocks non-litigation use cases. Some good advice to start-ups is to remember the value exchange. Platforms need to grow their business, are giving you access to a plethora of customers/users, and a stable foundation that may have taken years to build. Prioritize feeding value back into the platform.

Why building on Relativity is all reward

We’ve covered why building on Relativity is not a risk for our business, but why is it such an amazing opportunity? Why Relativity?

Well for one, look at the Relativity customer base and community of over 170,000 active users. The number of global leaders, both solution providers (120) and law firms (156), that have gone all in on Relativity is mind boggling! What’s so exciting for Heretik is that these are all potential customers for us.

Our sales cycle is so short for an enterprise software company because Relativity has already built a foundation of trust with these customers. It’s thrilling to work at a 10-person startup that’s already solving some of the most pressing problems for massive and amazing companies.  

This is happening.

As we speak, hundreds of thousands of contracts are being reviewed in our system to unearth risks, obligations, and opportunities buried in the depths of long & complicated agreements.

From a product perspective, we deliberately chose Relativity due to its best in class security, scalability, and review capabilities. The flexibility and configurability of Relativity is a major competitive advantage for contract review, just as it is in eDiscovery. It’s a document review advantage that’s agnostic to the document type. The ability to create your own objects, fields, choices, layouts and tool belt of event handlers means that no matter how bespoke a contract review project, we can tell our clients that Heretik is their “app for that.”

We don’t need to build our own authentication, audit system, or user/group permission framework. We can lean on Relativity for industrial strength plumbing so that we can focus on building the best solution on the market for structuring contract data at scale. Relativity is also a mature and proven platform that’s known and trusted with a thriving ecosystem. We’ve already built lasting relationships with various leaders in the community and this will pay off in spades for our business.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, with two of our co-founders and our Director of Product Management (that’s me) as former Relativians, we are not only experts in the platform, we believe in the product and the people.

I made many friends while at Relativity and they are some of the smartest people I know. Having had first-hand visibility into the prioritization process and the company’s ability to execute quickly, I’ve never been more optimistic for the future of this software.

We want to build a company that endures for the long term and it’s comforting to be doing so on top of a platform we believe will be where the world reviews documents. 

19_05_01_Relativity_Fest-145 (2)



Rishi is the Director of Product at Heretik. Prior to Heretik, he worked as a product manager at Relativity. Rishi began his career as a lawyer and worked as a judicial clerk for the Virgin Islands.

Subscribe to stay up to
date on all things Heretik!