In 2009, Rohan Mahajan, a law graduate from Campus Law Center, University Of Delhi, was working in Jakarta, Indonesia. A legal issue cropped up during his stint, and surprisingly, Rohan was left dangling for help. Even in the age of Internet and globalization, he had no online platform to seek a verified and a reliable solution to his problem. He soon realized there would be many like him in need of legal help.
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Rohan discussed the pain of hiring lawyer with his friends in India. “Unless someone has a lawyer in their circle of friends and family, finding a high quality, trustworthy and reasonable lawyer is a hard nut to crack,” points out Rohan.
While conducting a business viability research, Rohan spoke to one of his friend at Google, and was surprised to know that despite two million searches for lawyers in India each month, there was no serious player who was fulfilling this huge customer need.
The above gaps pushed Rohan on the path of entrepreneurship with HelpMePAPA (HMP). It’s an online managed marketplace to consult and hire quality lawyers in India. “Get all your legal problems solved from the best in the business,” says Rohan.
Besides Rohan, Nikhil is the other Co-founder of HMP. Nikhil is an engineering graduate and gave up his well paying job to join hands with Rohan full time in August last year.
What’s in the name?
Quitting his job in May 2013, Rohan launched his venture in January 2014. Pondering over what his brainchild should be called, he rambled through phrases like Perfect Advice, Professional Assistance and ended up calling it HelpMePAPA. "After all, papa is someone we all look up to, and that's exactly what I want my service to be like. Something people can look up to when hit by crisis. I want to help them, assist them for the first time, and each time thereafter,'' says Rohan.
Since then, HMP had a fairly successful beta run in Delhi (NCR) for around 10 months where the portal had 2000 plus platform users asking free questions out of which 150 users hired lawyers through the portal and contributed to generate revenues of more than Rs.1.5 million.
The HMP team is busy working on pan India expansion plan over the next six months. To ensure quality and trust of the empanelled lawyers, the recruitment works only on reference of existing lawyers wherein Rohan ensures that each lawyer who joins the portal is able to offer high quality and genuine services with 100% integrity.
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Strong focus on quality control
“Users ratings and reviews for lawyers’ services on the platform will add to the quality assurance process and any lawyer with unacceptable rating / review will be deactivated from the portal,” adds Rohan. Another USP of the portal is free consultation advantage. Users can get a basic free consultation from a lawyer before they decide to make a payment of engagement.
The platform doesn’t allow lawyers to create their profile on the portal. “It’s an invite only platform for lawyers and we have 35 lawyers on board and adding 20 lawyers on a weekly basis. At present, we process close to 300 consultations every month out of which close to 15% are paid ones,” says Rohan.
Importantly, the company has 100% refund policy. In case the customer is not satisfied with service one can get his/her money back.
Competition and road ahead
HMP competes with Kanoon.com and VakilSearch; however, it has a marketplace approach with tight control on listing. And it would be interesting to see how marketplace path fares up in online legal assistance space.
The company also plans to launch a mobile app for lawyers and users for easy video consultations. “We will also roll out features like 'Find a lawyer near you' by location/geo tagging of experts and users,” concludes Rohan.
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