If you were to hear a pitch from a legal startup that planned to offer do it yourself access to legal forms, you would immediately think of LegalZoom right? Who would enter into a space crowded by a giant like LegalZoom? That would be as asinine as pitching an online auction site for collectibles, clothing, accessories and every day junk right?
Well Santa Monica based startup DocRun is doing just that. Of course their position is that they’re going to do it better.
DocRun has positioned itself to become the site to go to when small companies, and even startups need legal documents that may otherwise cost them thousands of dollars. When a user goes to the site they can create highly customizable, attorney level legal documents by answering a handful of relevant questions.
DocRun isn’t your run of the mill startup though. The company’s founder is Jennifer Reuting a nationally known expert on small business and corporate structuring. She is the author of the book “Limited Liability Companies For Dummies”.
This is also not her first foray into web platforms for small businesses. Reuting created InCorp.com the third largest registered agent service provider in the country and MyLLC.com a business entity formation service. Reuting has baked patent pending “artificial intelligence” into DocRun. This technology trumps LegalZoom’s one size fits all legal document service.
We got a chance to interview DocRun check out the interview below.
What is Docrun?
DocRun has created the first artificial intelligence of its kind (patent-pending) that allows small businesses and entrepreneurs to create highly-customized, attorney-level legal documents instantly, just by answering a series of targeted questions on www.docrun.com.
It’s not another automated process that’s simply made one-size-fits-all form-filling easy; our software solution understands all federal and state laws, and tailors documents to your needs so that small businesses can have the same legal protection and legitimacy as Fortune 500 companies.
In layman’s terms, how does it work?
Users visit our site, select their legal document of choice, and the adaptive software drafts its contents as users progress through a series of dynamic, simple questions. The system is intelligent enough to ask targeted questions that dive into the intricacies of your business and situation. After the walk-through, customers receive a downloadable document on the spot: attorney-level, credible, and specifically tailored to their needs.
Customers can choose to purchase single documents, everything from operating agreements to partnership agreements, or document packages for specific purposes, such as transferring investment real estate properties into an LLC, at a fraction of the cost of purchasing lawyer-prepared documents.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
Jennifer Reuting is a nationally- renowned expert on small businesses and corporate structuring. A serial entrepreneur, she founded InCorp.com, the third -largest registered agent service provider in the U.S., and MyLLC.com, a leading business entity-formation service. She is also author of the best-selling, “Limited Liability Companies for Dummies,” and speaks regularly on television and radio shows across the U.S., addressing common business issues, such as the formation and management of limited liability companies and legal document production.
Jennifer conceived of DocRun a year ago, with the hopes of lowering the barrier of entry into the small business market for small businesses and entrepreneurs, by providing them with access to credible yet affordable legal documents.
Where are you based?
We’re based out of Santa Monica, with an office on Third Street Promenade, a mere two blocks away from the beach!
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
Los Angeles has a burgeoning tech startup scene. In the last year, a throng of accelerators and incubators have popped up in the Santa Monica and Venice areas, aka Silicon Beach, fostering a new crop of entrepreneurs. Jennifer is one of the mentors for Amplify, one of the top accelerators in LA. Many young tech companies are expanding their offices to LA, including Google and Riot Games, attracting some much needed tech talent to the area.
The level of startup activity in LA is higher than it’s ever been, and mixers, hackathons, and conferences attract crowds of recruiters entrepreneurs interested in networking. Organizations and meetup groups are being formed to accommodate demand. It’s an exciting time to be part of Silicon Beach!
How did you come up with the idea for Docrun?
Over the years, I have seen how my customers and the readers of my book, “LLCs For Dummies,” have struggled with receiving their business formation documents through the mail, but not knowing what to do with them. Oftentimes, these entrepreneurs are not familiar with the legal aspects of creating a business, ex: how to issue membership in their LLC or create operating agreements (a legal requirement for a valid LLC), and formation companies don’t have the answer. Unless entrepreneurs have the ability to allocate thousands of dollars towards consulting an attorney, there is no affordable way to obtain the legal documents needed to structure a company. This has created a sizeable barrier to entry for the small business market, and many first-time entrepreneurs who have overlooked these details have suffered personal losses in resulting lawsuits.
DocRun aims to change that. When the company was established, my team reached out to dozens of attorneys, asking them if they could create a legal document package for business formation at a viable price point for everyday people starting businesses. We received, “No’s” across the board. So, I decided to turn to technology to replicate the attorney process of drafting documents. Hence the birth of DocRun.
How did you come up with the name?
In today’s cluttered cyberspace, it’s tough to name a tech company without having to consider the domain names for sale! Since documents are at the heart of our company, I knew I wanted a name that conveyed that. When I stumbled onto the “DocRun” domain name, which used “doc” in exactly the connotation we were looking for, I jumped on it! It’s short, easy to remember, and, last but not least, fun to say!
Some people love it, others aren’t so sure about it- either is ok with me, as long as they remember it! After all, imagine what people thought of the name, “Google” before it was popular!
What problem does Docrun solve?
Having had the privilege to help thousands of entrepreneurs form their businesses, I’ve seen how most entrepreneurs have several thousand dollars budgeted towards getting their small businesses up and running, a budget that needs to cover everything from office space, to marketing. These entrepreneurs shouldn’t need to spend a third of their budget on obtaining pricey but necessary legal documents from attorneys.
Although there are existing companies that automate document-creation process, most have software with limited capabilities. Much of the industry has simply automated the form-filling process, providing a standard template for each legal document, and filling in the blanks as users answer questions. This one-size-fits-all format is not always legally viable, as they are not customizable enough to handle the majority of real-world situations; many are not even state-specific. At DocRun, we are organically replicating the attorney process of creating a document.
What’s your secret sauce?
Secret sauce? If we told you, it wouldn’t be so secret anymore!
OK, in all seriousness, the key ingredient to building our startup has been our overwhelming interest in technology, and pushing it to its limits. We don’t want to be a company that revolves around financial growth, we want to be a company that innovates in a huge way. We want to introduce the kind of technology that promotes progress in an industry, leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs entering into the small business market. We are harnessing technology’s ability to empower.
What’s one dilemma you’ve encountered in the startup process?
When you’re pushing the boundaries of technologies, creating a product unlike anything in existence, you need capable developers behind you, developers who can execute on the ideas. However, in terms of developers, there is much greater demand than supply, and many tech companies compete for that small group of talented techies. Hiring developers hasn’t been easy, especially since they need to be familiar with A.I., on top of everything else!
What’s one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?
Putting the cart before the horse. Throughout the creation of DocRun, I’ve had to remind myself that starting a company is a process, not something that happens overnight. At one point, I was overly excited, and over-extended myself- we over-hired and over-bought. We corrected this by scaling back and letting our growth drive our expansion. Instead of hiring based on our expectations for future growth, we’ve learned to hire only when there is a real need.
Who are some of your mentors and business role models?
Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of the best in the business, and am happy to call Don Dodge, Mike Hirshland, and Om Malik my closest mentors. They have a combined wealth of knowledge that far surpasses what I’ve gained from my own experiences, and have generously dedicated their time to share this with me.
What’s next for Docrun?
Launch! We’ll be transitioning our focus from building the product to getting users to adopt it by developing our sales, marketing, and customer service capabilities. We’re expecting to draw a significant amount of customers following our launch, and are implementing systems capable of managing the influx, systems capable of scaling. Our new customers will be a welcome sight to sore, computer screen-adjusted eyes!