The past year has been a battleground for startups on the legal front. Whether it is Oyo Rooms alleging Zo Rooms of stealing its copyright material, or Uber suing Ola last month for fake rider accounts and booking rides on Uber using non-existent phone numbers, things have been getting murkier in the ecosystem. The positive side to this is that the situation has given way to another niche sector which seems to be catching fire: legal startups.
From incorporation to registration and compliance, the following ventures are your perfect partners, claiming to solve your legal woes:
Founded: Delhi-based LawRato.com was founded by Rohan Mahajan in 2013 with Nikhil Sarup
Funding raised: In February 2016, LawRato claimed to have raised an angel round of $100,000 from a group of angel investors. The funds will be used to extend its lawyer network to reach out and cater to more people.
Propostion: The platform allows users to get in touch with lawyers through email, phone, video calling and face-to-face meetings. It enables users to post queries to lawyers online and book consultants for detailed opinions and guidance as well.
LawRato has an active quality check system and in-depth verification of the lawyers on board.
It also has a B2B mobile app for lawyers. Read more here.
Revenue model: Although lawyers on LawRato quote their consultation charges, the platform charges a nominal fee of Rs 500 for a 30-minute phone consultation. It also claims to have a refund policy for unhappy clients.
Growing at 20 percent month-on-month in FY 2014-15, LawRato garnered a revenue of Rs 65 lakh and expects to achieve a revenue of Rs 1 crore this fiscal year.
Traction: As of February 2016, the platform has 14,000 registered users and 1,000 paid clients on the platform.
It is getting 60,000 visitors, 5,000 leads and 150 paid users per month, and has 1,000 rated and reviewed lawyers in more than 150 cities across India.
Founded: In August 2013, Akshat Singhal (a BITS-Pilani graduate) started GetLegal, an online QnA platform (like Quora) to help individuals and businesses solve queries and get solutions through lawyers or law students.
But feeling the need to add more value to the ecosystem, he took his idea a rung higher by starting Legistify in August 2015 with his batchmate Ritesh and GNU graduate Ravindra Purohit.
Funding raised: In December 2015, the venture raised an undisclosed round of seed funding from Polyplex, and Ranjit Singh, who happens to be a director with Polyplex.
Proposition: Launched in 2016, Legistify.com is a quick online-agreement making platform, which produces an agreement at the backend based on a series of questions it asks the users.
At present, still in its beta stage, the platform supports 30 different types of agreements including hiring agreements, managing Intellectual Property, office rental, warehousing rental, and service and commercial agreements related to marketing.
In the next two months, the platform will grow to support 300 different types of agreements across new domains.
The firm also helps startups offline with their legal troubles by deploying a dedicated consultant for any assistance related to incorporation or starting up. Read more here.
Revenue model: The platform charges on agreement made, with their average ticket size being anywhere close to Rs 1,000- 1,500.
For offline consultation, the average ticket size of the firm is close to Rs 5,000-15,000, due to the legal experts involved.
Traction: Since inception, Legistify has created close to 700 legal agreements, of which 70-80 percent were free for first-time users. First-time users get to create their first agreement for free.
Of these, there have been offline requests from 25-30 startups for assistance with incorporation.
Founded: In 2011 by Hrishikesh Datar, an alumnus of the National Law School.
Funding raised: In 2015, Vakilsearch raised an undisclosed amount in Series A from Kalaari Capital.
Proposition: It aims to give startups legal services at an affordable price in areas of trademark registrations, legal documentation and suite of other services involving business expansion, intellectual property protection, and complying with tax laws. It also provides accounting services through its partnership with Intuit.
Somewhat similar to Legistify, they have an offering called 'Make-A-Doc' (makeadoc.vakilsearch.com), where basic legal documents are available free-of-charge. Read more here.
Traction: They have an active B2B platform with clients like Taxi For Sure, Housing and India Property, all done completely online.
Founded: Founded in July 2014 by Divakar Vijayasarthy and Rajesh Inbasekaran
Proposition: The firm wants to be a one-stop shop for legal and tax requirements. Based on earlier reports, the platform also claims to have a proprietary technology required to provide end-to-end services relating to personal and business taxation, real estate transactions, compliance management, and setting up of a business.
The platform has also initiated a startup clinic to provide legal and other professional service expertise to startups, essential for their long-term health. Read more here.
Revenue model: According to the venture, the prices are determined by professionals. Since these professionals aren’t allowed by their governing statutes to share their fees with non-professionals, the startup doesn’t charge any fee from the professional. They have a small markup over the fee charged by the professional.
MeetUrPro earns a six-10-percent margin once the deal is made between startups and professionals.
Traction: Based out of Chennai, MeetUrPro has 1,000 professionals on the platform and was vying for half a million in revenues last financial year.
Founded: In June 2015 by former McKinsey employee Himanshu Jain and his brother Pulkit Jain.
Funding raised: Raised a funding of Rs 6.5 crore in an angel round from Praveen Khandelwal and Yatin Kumar in April 2016.
Proposition: Aiming at SMEs, the platform helps firms follow mandatory compliance norms by signing up for any their three verticals- registration, returns filing while being a marketplace for professional legal and taxation services. It offers over 50 kinds of services on the platform, from company incorporation, to FSSAI food licence and trademark registration.
The portal also works on a cash-on-delivery model along with a money-back guarantee.
Revenue model: Legal Raasta charges the customer a nominal amount for processing their work and submitting their documents with the government. With differential pricing, customers tend to pay Rs 2,999 onwards for import-export codes and Rs 13,999 for registering a private company.
On the revenue front, it claims to be growing at the rate of 40 percent month on month.
Traction: At present, the platform claims to have more than 2,200 customers on the platform, with close to 11,000 enquiries every day.
However, a lack of disruptions persists, with almost similar business models and offerings. This might be the reason why we also see startups not raising more than a Series-A funding as of now.
To give you a perspective, the US has been scooping up the highest amount of investment in the segment with more than $254 million in 2014.
Then there is the other breed of niche startups that focus only on a certain part of the legal process. There is bCompliance, which helps with compliance, and others like VenturEasy as well as IndiaFilings (also focuses on finance management)that help with incorporation and registration from One Person Company (OPC) to private limited company registrations.
But with little disruption and not-so-generous investors, there is an active need for existing players to disrupt the space further with technology.
This list has a few initiatives but we’re sure there are many more entrepreneurs tackling the legal woes for startups and individuals across the nation. Do drop in a comment and we’ll take note.