One of the biggest deterrents for people to report a crime they witnessed or take any legal action in India is the tardiness in closing a case. Rishabh Gupta and his family were stuck with case proceedings for over eight years. This was when Rishabh (29) realised he wasn't alone and that there were many like him facing the same challenge.
“Not only is it difficult to find a lawyer experienced in your type of case, but following up during case proceedings can be a nightmare and there is no fee transparency,” he quips.
This was when Rishabh, an IIT Rourkee alumnus, realised the need for a better legal system in a democracy such as ours. Myadvo was then born, to become a legal concierge service that connects clients to the right lawyers, based on their requirement and budgets.
Roping in friends
Rishabh roped in Kushal Bhagat, his friend from IIT Rourkee, who dealt with similar legal hassles. Rishabh points out that there are over 50 million individuals and corporates who need to engage a lawyer every year and yet there is no platform that provides curated and relevant information on lawyers, to find and engage them for their legal battles.
With Myadvo, the team decided to build an in-depth lawyer profiling mechanism that covered their areas of practice, client reviews, education, consultation charges and other dynamic variables. The information is dynamically updated using an algorithm.
“Additionally, we also provide support to our clients during their case, by assigning them a case manager, who follows up with the lawyer, helps file documents and keeps the client updated on the case progress,” says Rishabh.
However, coming in from a pure technology background, the team initially found it difficult to convince the lawyers.
Running round courts
Explaining the troubles they faced Rishabh explains:
For the first few weeks, we walked into lawyers' chambers in Saket Court, Tiz Hazari Court and Patiala House Court, convincing them of the value-add that we could bring. That is how we got the first 50 lawyers to register on the platform. Later, we used SMS campaigns, a lot of cold-calling and email campaigns to on-board lawyers.
On-boarding clients wasn’t an easy task either. Rishabh says that in the cold Delhi winters, they would distribute pamphlets outside Saket court and carry a tablet to convince people to take a look and pose a question on the website.
This was how they found their first client in a woman fighting a divorce and child custody case. She was unhappy with her lawyer and when the team showed her profiles of lawyers practising in Saket Court, she ended up hiring one of them.
Soon enough, the startup was flooded with queries on its site, thanks to referrals and leads.
Workings of Myadvo
Starting out in September 2015, this Delhi-based startup now has a team of 12 people. The initial team was built of friends: Harshal Gupta, a former American Express employee, Sahil Grover, former Lead Sales, Zo Rooms, Saurabh Dalal, former DCE employee, Ujjwal Agarwal, Neeraj Dwevedi of Zomato and Vasundhara Shankar.
Once the team began operations, they found that providing active case support wasn’t that simple. “We decided to assign young lawyers as case managers, to help in case support,” says Rishabh.
Users can engage with MyAdvo in multiple ways. They have the option of posting an anonymous question on the website and receive legal advice from expert lawyers around them. They also can search through lawyer profiles and directly book consultations with the lawyer suiting their requirement.
Corporates, SMEs can simply post their legal project on the platform and receive proposals from multiple expert law firms within 24-48 hours.
Working along differentiators
According to a news report, over 20 million cases are still pending in Indian courts. It is, therefore, no surprise that startups are mushrooming in the space to help individuals, corporates and SMEs fight their legal battles.
Delhi-based LawRato raised a funding of $100,000 from a group of angel investors, BITS Pilani alumni-founded GetLegal raised an undisclosed amount of funding, Legistify and National Law School alumnus-founded Vakil Search raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Kalaari Capital.
Currently bootstrapped, Myadvo, claims to have already generated close to Rs 15 lakh in revenues, helped resolve 9,500 legal queries, facilitated over Rs 1.5 crore in lawyer fees and has expanded its lawyer network to 1,000 lawyers spread across 85 cities.
“We've grown our revenues at a compounded rate of roughly 85 percent month-on-month. We generated Rs 5.7 lakh in revenues in June alone, turning operationally profitable,” says Rishabh.
By June, the team also collabarated with corporate players like Karbonn, Panasonic and Hindware for their consumer litigation cases. They are also helping them with lawyer discovery, price discovery and case updates. they claim to be helping these corporate players with over 500 consumer litigation cases spread across 50 Indian cities.
The team charges a nominal fee from clients who book a legal consultation or legal service through MyAdvo and a subscription fee from the lawyers.
Speaking about the differentiator, Rishabh says that their depth of lawyer profiling and active client support leads to higher fulfilment. He adds that they have helped people across property issues, medical negligence, divorce, child custody, immigration, cheque bounce cases, consumer cases, legal drafting, intellectual property disputes, fund raising for startups, amongst others.
“Soon we'll be coming up with applications that automate case support and helps lawyers manage their cases,” says Rishabh.