Ankur Singla, Founder, Akosha: Enabling legal solutions online for consumers
Have you ever felt the need to file a case against a service provider? Considering that service standards in our country are abysmal, the chances are you feel the need to, practically every week. But you never do. Why? Is it because you don't want to go through the hassle of finding a lawyer? Or is it because you don't think it's worth the trouble? Akosha, a consumer legal services website, promises to provide you with information about legal issues and also, easy solutions to practical legal problems like framing a rent agreement, filing a consumer complaint or even getting a will prepared. We at YourStory caught up with Ankur Singhla, the young entrepreneur behind Akosha to find out more about this interesting business idea.If someone asked you to tell them about Akosha in about 50 words, what would you say?
Akosha is a consumer legal company which helps Indians solve their everyday legal hassles like finding legal information, filing a consumer complaint, getting a Will or a rent agreement, or finding a lawyer.
How is Akosha different from other legal help portals?
We are the first and only legal help portal with a clear focus on the layman. All other legal portals are meant for other lawyers or law students. As far as the consumer complaint space is concerned, there are several very popular forums where people can post their complaint. But no one actually takes action on those complaints.
How did the business idea for Akosha come about?
The idea for Akosha has evolved over time. We had initially started with an "Make your Will online" service. Over time, we realized that we needed to look at a much bigger opportunity and decided to look at the consumer legal market in its totality.
Tell us about your background.
I'm a graduate of National Law School of India University, Bangalore. After law school, I worked with a corporate law firm in London. In June 2009, I quit my job and came back to India to start something up. We evolved into Akosha over time. In November 2010, Nikhil joined me as the CTO. Nikhil holds a Masters in Computer Science from Columbia University, New York and is a undergrad from JIIT, Noida.
Let us know about the tie-ups that you have. Is there acceptance for your startup?
Since we are creating unique, high quality content on legal issues, we were able to tie up with several portals such as Rediff, Sify, OneIndia for content partnerships. We are now speaking to/emailing/interacting with over 3-4 customers a day, and the response has been overwhelming for our consumer complaint offering. For our Wills offering, we have seen interest from two kind of individuals - people between 35-45 making a Will for their parents and people between 50-60 making a Will for themselves.
Where do you see online consumer legal services and Akosha five years from now?
In 5 years, Akosha will be the one-stop solution for consumers to understand their legal rights, find a lawyer or file a complaint against companies.
What is Akosha's revenue model?
We currently charge customers Rs.499 for helping them resolve their consumer complaints. This includes drafting the complaint notice, following up with the company to resolve the problem and drafting the actual complaint as per the Consumer Protection Act. We also offer our Will service at Rs.2999/Rs.3499 and make a rent agreement service at Rs.499. All legal information and lawyer search is free on our website. Over time, we may evolve one or two B2B revenue streams as well.
As an entrepreneur, what are your joys? What are the challenges?
The joys are in doing something that hasn't been done before, connecting with our customers who appreciate what we are doing and motivating my team to do more things. The challenges are too many to count - changing the status quo in the legal market, finding a win-win solution for consumer complaints, managing our cash flow well, getting new customers etc.
How big is the Akosha team? Are you looking at hiring?
We are a small team of three people. In addition to Nikhil and I, we have a lawyer in the team as well. We also usually have 1-2 interns in our office at all times.
Let us know about your expansion plans.
Several customers have requested us to expand to RTI-related services and also, to supply templates like employment agreements, terms sheets etc. for B2B users. But we want to focus on Consumer Complaints for now. As we keep talking to more customers, we'll know what to do next.
How has the startup journey been so far?
Things have picked up since we launched 5 months back. We are now getting almost 1 consumer complaint a day and about 10,000 pageviews a month. We have already filed complaints against companies like Airtel, Meru Cabs, MakeMyTrip, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Barclays, Yatra, Skoda, Vodafone, IIT PACE, and several other businesses.We are pretty active on Facebook and Twitter and we feel that, in the coming months, our traffic and reach will increase significantly.
We at YourStory wish Ankur much success with Akosha. To know more about this fascinating startup, you can check out http://www.akosha.com/. Also, do let us know your thoughts about this story. You can write to us at email@example.com.
Sriram Mohan | YourStory | 18th February 2011 | Bangalore