Karla Capela, CEO and founder at Koy. Photo: KOY/Courtesy

The only Latin American in the list of IBM AI leaders in 2020

Karla Capela, CEO and founder of legal tech startup Koy, created a platform that uses IBM AI technology, Watson

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IBM has recognized 35 women leaders from 12 different countries who are using Artificial Intelligence to drive transformation, growth, and innovation in various industries through the award Women Leaders in AI. In this 2020 edition, the only Latin American on the list is the Brazilian lawyer Karla Capela, CEO and founder of the startup Koy – Law Intelligence, which is a legal tech that uses AI and machine learning to optimize processes in law firms and legal departments. In the 2019 edition, the first of the IBM award, there were three Latin American women on the list: Fernanda Gonzalez, digital channels manager at Santander Río in Argentina; Claudia Ignacio, executive director of consumer experience at Banorte bank, Mexico; and Walkiria Schirrmeister Marchetti, CIO of Bradesco bank, in Brazil.

Born in Recife, Capela graduated in Law at the Catholic University of Pernambuco in 2002. She began her career working in the area of Consumer Law at the company of her parents, who had a dental health plan with national coverage. Later, she became executive director and partner at the Raimundo & Capela firm, specializing in the insurance area. It was in this office, in 2017, that the lawyer came up with the idea that led her to the IBM award.

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That year, an insurance company client at the firm said it would change the form of compensation: instead of paying on a monthly basis, the company would pay for the services in two installments, one at the beginning of the process and another at the end of the process. This would require an extra effort by the office to more closely monitor the movements of each process. However, in the daily lives of Brazilian lawyers, it is precisely this bureaucracy that takes the most time from professionals, since the country has 200 different judicial monitoring systems.

The lawyer decided that she needed to unify them through an easy-to-use interface, not only in terms of the programming language but also in terms of nomenclature since each system has a different one. That’s when she brought IBM’s AI technology, Watson, into the game. Using Watson, Capela created a legal management platform called “Norma“, in reference to the legal norm.

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In practice, Norma recognizes and classifies lawsuits, schedules the next steps in court proceedings, and tracks cases as they move through the system. While it takes a lawyer about two hours to read a case, Norma does it in six seconds. Capela stresses that, with Norma, Koy’s customers are able to be up to four times more productive and increase their revenues by up to 30%.

The startup’s name, Koy, is Japanese for carp, a fish that swims in counterflow. The explanation for the name is that, at Koy, customers don’t have to chase information. They are taken to it by Norma.

I think that all companies that generate an effective impact on their work start from a real problem. From an existing pain, and not from a business opportunity. (…) I chose the management path, which became a technology, and I made this choice because I knew the need (of the customers)

Karla Capela, CEO and founder of the startup KOY – Law Intelligence.

With the help of the platform, the lawyer says that she has already managed, in a period of just two months, for Justice to unlock BRL 330 million for a client. If the same work was done without the assistance of Norma, Capela estimates that it would take three years to release such an amount.

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She says that even the physical legal processes, of systems that are not yet fully digitized, can have their movements accompanied by Norma. Fully digitized processes, on the other hand, can be imported through the platform and managed directly on it. “And we are the only company in the world that does that,” she said.

“We are anticipating a natural trend. This is what is happening now with the medical field, with aviation, with payment methods. And it has to happen with the legal area. AI is the emerging technology that will dominate the next 20 years, and COVID-19 anticipated this”, says Capela.

She believes that the crisis of the new coronavirus, as in the case of other technologies, will accelerate the adoption of AI by companies and professionals.

The lawyer felt the impacts of COVID-19 in her own lungs. Two weeks ago, she was admitted to a hospital due to shortness of breath caused by the disease. Now she is recovering at home. Currently, Koy serves more than 100 users and has 20,000 cases under its guard.

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The startup has only 11 employees and all are in remote work, which must be maintained in perpetuity, even though the company maintains its headquarters at Praia de Boa Viagem, in Recife, capital of the state of Pernambuco, in the Northeast of the country.

For Capela, the IBM award shows that the company is on the right track by launching a magnifying glass under avant-garde initiatives. Koy was raised with its own resources (about BRL 3 million) and has not yet received an investment round from external sources. This may change with IBM’s prize.