How a Notary Created a $760 Million Business in Online Notaries
Pat Kinsell, 36, started Notarize after selling his previous company, mobile data collection company Spindle, to Twitter in 2013 and realizing that a notary had failed to sign his documents. Without a signature, documents become invalid, despite being stamped, which is a major headache for Kinsel.
Two years later, he founded Notarize to move the hassles of documentation online. With Notarize’s online service – including special identity verification tools – customers can skip the trip to a notary and connect with a professional via video chat instead.
To get started, he had to convince state and local regulators that online documentation using cameras could be as secure as that done in person. His secret weapon: co-founder Adam Basie, who once served as a political advisor to actor Dennis Moore (Democrat from Kansas) and spent seven years after that lobbying on behalf of entrepreneurs. Ultimately, the duo helped pass legislation allowing virtual notaries in 38 states, “I have scars and receipts,” says Kinsel.
For Kinsel, one of the worst scars came from litigation with his brother, John Kinsel, who filed a lawsuit in December 2016, via an Oklahoma-based entity called Corsa, alleging that Notarize had profited from Corsa’s reputation in the Oklahoma business community. The lawsuit, which was eventually dismissed, destroyed the two brothers’ relationship. (Kinsella did not respond to requests for comment.)
Then, in 2018, a large real estate firm (Kinsel declined to be named) pulled out of its planned fundraising investment for Notarize’s Series B, leaving the company short of cash. Kinsel loaned the Boston-based company $1 million himself and, frustrated, laid off 30% of employees in January. “It was a never-ending effort to raise money, pass legislation, win clients, keep the team motivated despite our ongoing funding challenges, and reform the business,” he says.
But things have changed over the past two years. As the country went into lockdown with the spread of Covid-19 in the spring of 2020, mortgage rates fell and home sales soared, boosting Notarize’s mortgage operations. That spring, Notarize brought in 1,000 new notaries.
Revenue was an estimated $25 million in 2020, a sixfold increase from the previous year. Notarize now has 2,200 corporate clients, including Title Agency First American and Real Estate Marketplace Zillow, as well as plenty of individuals who pay $25 to sign and stamp their documents online.
This documented growth helped him triple his rating at Its latest funding round is $130 million led by fintech-focused company Canapi Ventures in March, to $760 million. Notarize also helped make cuts to Forbes Next Billion-Dollar Startups, one of 25 companies we think most likely will become unicorns. “I want to build a transformative technology company that will stand the test of time,” says Kinsel.