How many lawyers does it take to grow a company with 125 additional new hires? For Dude Solutions, it’s just one, but it’s a good one. Meet Kelly Kopyt Caputo, a strategic private company and government transactional attorney experienced with internal and external client and partner communications, technology contract negotiations, managing legal risks, and supporting sales teams. Kelly joined “The Dude” in April just ahead of its acquisition announcement on May 3. Dude Solutions CEO Ed Roshitsh and Co-Founders Lee Prevost and Ken Hudson recognized the value in moving once-outsourced services to the inside—and into the hands of Kelly.
In case you missed it, Dude Solutions was acquired earlier this month by the private equity firm Clearlake Capital Group. Dude Solutions provides cloud-based operations management software that automates mission-critical enterprise asset management workflows for its over 12,000 clients in the education, government, healthcare and manufacturing verticals. With the acquisition comes the growth. Currently at 650 employees, Dude plans to hire an additional 125 in the next 12-18 months. Kelly is going to make legal operations scalable. She also plans to use her expertise to further success and growth in employment agreements, contract negotiations, service-level agreements, end-user licensing, specialized contract deliverables, and expanding partnerships.
Before joining “The Dude”, Kelly was a VP at Foster Moore – The Registry People, where she directed and developed a legal strategy for the New Zealand-based software company post-acquisition of a U.S. competitor by managing legacy contract risks and supporting new sales negotiations and growth. Her legal background and experience with the government sector were significant assets in managing commercial relationships with their U.S. customers and within the sales process. She is licensed to practice law in N.Y., Mass. and Maine.
Other credentials include serving as President of the International Association of Commercial Administrators (IACA), as Editor of the Commercial Law Newsletter for the American Bar Association’s Committee on Uniform Commercial Code, and as an Advisor to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) for Article 9 Secured Transactions, Model Registered Agents Act and the Uniform Statutory Trust Entity Act. As Director of the Registries of Deeds, Assistant Director of the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Corporations Division, she was counsel to 13 registries of deeds districts regarding intellectual property licenses, commercial leases, technology contracts and legal agreements. Finally, she is a member of the Alliance of Women in Tech Leadership.
Q. You have an amazing job at an amazing organization. Tell us how that came about and why you chose Dude Solutions?
I started my legal career as an attorney for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts negotiating contracts on behalf of the government, including intellectual property licenses, technology, and data management contracts and other general operations agreements. Then, an opportunity at a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company brought me to the Triangle area. That software company’s target market was state government, therefore my prior experience representing the government gave me a great perspective, and client respect, during negotiations.
As can be the way in a high-growth, startup technology company, I found myself in transition and met some amazing folks here at Dude Solutions. It was critical for me, in my next role, to be on a team that prioritizes collaboration, integrity, and ingenuity with a strong focus on service to clients, especially with SaaS. If everyone on a team strives to work together to provide a better experience, even if it’s already a good experience, you have a true recipe for success. Ironically, or perhaps purposefully, these traits are exactly Dude Solutions’ company values. Dude Solutions targets a number of different vertical markets, including government, which widens my practice areas. It is a perfect fit!
Q. The press is buzzing about the Clearlake Capital acquisition. What can you share about what this means for the company going forward?
In a word, growth! We’re excited to have a new partner that shares our company vision—it’s an exciting time for us at Dude Solutions. As for what comes next, our CEO, Ed Roshitsh, recently shared more about our future with WRAL TechWire. For me, it’s an opportunity to contribute to something amazing! I will focus on making our legal operations scalable and implementing process improvements to benefit our current clients and many more new clients to come.
Q. As the General Counsel, what do you hope to accomplish your first year and what do you feel is going to be your most valuable contribution?
This is a new role for Dude Solutions as we have retained outside counsel directly up until now, so there is so much I hope to do in building this role. The primary focus now is increasing internal awareness of how a General Counsel role can streamline our clients’ legal experiences while supporting our own Dude team internally. Our motto is ‘The Dude is beside you,’ and it is my responsibility to make our clients feel this during a negotiation or when reviewing our subscription, service level or scope of work documents. My most valuable contribution is going to be documenting a clear understanding of what success means when ‘The Dude is beside you!’
Q. What do you think the greatest challenge(s) is/are for startups in the present Triangle startup environment?
At Dude Solutions, it takes a team of hundreds to support our 12,000+ clients and every single Dude has a critical role to play in executing our mission. The Triangle job market has a number of high-growth technology companies for potential employees to choose from and one of the greatest challenges is finding and retaining the right people. One of the great things about Dude Solutions is the sense of working together. My team at The Dude is always working hard, striving for excellence and it’s contagious. Dude Solutions supports together-ness outside of work, too, with events like Family Day and promotes a number of charitable opportunities with the Good Dude that supports our community regularly.
Q. Share a “Fun Fact” about you with us.
I really enjoy spending time with my family, more specifically, cooking for them. Generations of my family enjoy cooking; my mother balanced her own career and our family, too, and the value of family meals began when I was young. My four children are all very involved and they each navigate their own busy schedule full of commitments. Cooking gives us an opportunity to work together (or sometimes just talk) to create it, and then sit down, enjoy our meal and have a good chat despite our otherwise busy schedules. We love watching the British Baking Show and one of my children likes to consider cooking time in our kitchen a competition, too…complete with interviews and time limits! These are some of my favorite moments of the day.
Q. If you weren’t doing your role now what would you be doing professionally?
I actually cannot envision myself doing anything other than this, professionally! I want to make an impact in the role I am in by always looking for a way to improve the process, and ultimately, client experience. A General Counsel role supporting high-growth technology gives me a great opportunity to do what I enjoy. If I had time to supplement this role, I would love to write about current legal topics in industry-focused white papers or something similar.
Q. If you could change something/anything (pie in the sky) what would you change?
When I was in high school, I would not have been able to visualize my older self where I am today. It took me years to figure out how to effectively maintain a high-functioning, productive lifestyle. Personally, productivity is a balance of many things, including organization (pick a methodology and vigilantly stick to it), healthy food (this is where my family cooking comes in), a regular schedule of physical activity and exercise, opportunities to be charitable to my community and taking time to just enjoy life. Maintaining a balance allows me to be highly productive in work and play. I would like to see our children and young adults understand this balance earlier in life than me.
Q. What gets you most excited about the future?
I’m excited about the opportunity to take on new challenges and learn how to maximize my potential! Every experience in life helped me to get where I am now. Many of these challenges pushed me beyond my comfort zone, therefore I learned and always gained more knowledge, self-awareness, mindfulness to the motivations of others and always wanted to accomplish more. This will definitely continue. If you are willing to explore outside your comfort zone and learn from new encounters, you can accomplish more than expected. There is no way to know with certainty what lies ahead, but I am positive I will continue to learn.
Q. Fast-forward 15 years from now and where do we find Kelly?
I will probably be working in a role similar to the one I have today. Right now, I have found my niche. I can contribute in a meaningful way to the technology industry, especially where government negotiation knowledge can benefit client relations. Those that know me, know I enjoy sharing my knowledge, too. In 15 years’ time, maybe I will be exclusively sharing what I know in the industry by writing an endless amount of white papers…or maybe you will see me on a cooking show!