Legal Zoom is by far the 800 pound gorilla when it comes to online legal services. Of course RocketLawyer is skyrocketing to fame as well. But, both of those online legal services target businesses. What about all the other legal work out there?
Well that’s where New Jersey startup LegalCrunch comes in. The company founded by Nikhil Jhunjhnuwala and Keval Amin, provides “…super affordable do-it-yourself kits for common legal issues, such as divorce and expungements. There are some simple legal situations where you just don’t need a lawyer, but you don’t want to make a mistake. We are a reliable alternative. We provide completed paperwork, intuitive instructions that use diagrams and graphics, and helpful phone support. All products are backed by a 100% money-back guarantee because we are that sure they will work.” Junjhunuwala told nibletz.com in an interview.
Jhunjhnuwala is the legal eagle behind the operation. He attended the University of Southern California’s Law School before turning his focus to his previous law related startup called MyRight. During his studies he found that not many people were well versed in their legal rights and wanted to change that.
Amin on the other hand is an artist by trade and the designer by choice.
Jhunjhnuwala and Amin realized that in addition to people not knowing their rights they didn’t have access to legal services. There are a lot of legal services out there that can be researched and started without employing the services of a lawyer and that’s what LegalCrunch hopes to do with their kits.
Where are you based?
Currently based in Princeton, NJ.
What is the startup culture like where you are based?
It’s small but growing. There are great co-working spaces in the area such as Tigerlabs, JuiceTank, and Innovation Garden, all of them focused on nurturing startups. I have noticed there is a preference towards energy and health startups, and more traditional business models., which too me is refreshing compared to the culture of bigger cities.
Our first startup, myRight, had a grand vision, but ultimately failed due to a poor business model and worse execution. On the other hand, LegalCrunch is in it’s 6th week and already making a profit.
What problem does your startup solve?
While in law school, I noticed that many people could not afford a lawyer. At the same time, they felt intimidated taking on the law on their own. These people usually end up taking no action, which hurts all of us. (In addition to promoting moral welfare, laws are meant to increase economic efficiently). When people don’t take advantage of the law, productivity, money, and efficiency is hurt.
From this, we were motivated to create an affordable solution. Legal self-help has existed for some time now, pioneered by Nolo, and more recently LegalZoom. However, these companies have consistently focused on business issues (as they are more profitable). There is a slow shift to personal issues as companies begin to recognize the enormous potential.
We plan on making our kits more accessible by appealing to visual learners. No one yet has tried to create visual representations of complex legal processes. Yet, this common in the sciences and other field. Khan Academy is doing a great job in showing that otherwise mundane topics, can be made interesting and understandable. Another example would be the ease of building IKEA furniture. Our kits are designed to be just as intuitive and easy for law.
What is one challenge that you’ve overcome in the startup process?
We don’t have a programmer. To overcome this challenge, we have utilized the amazing number of startup tools available out there for non-developer founders. We currently run on squarespace, wufoo, and determination. These tool let us launch our website in 2 weeks. Since then, it’s been constant iteration and improvement. Rapid prototyping and testing are very important for us.
During the process, we have been learning basic css and html. Though it’s only been 6 weeks, we feel that we’ve outgrown squarespace. We might start fresh, and begin building using twitter bootstrap. Though it’d be better if we could raise money and hire a programmer instead ;D
What are some of the milestones your startup has achieved?
Since we’ve only been up for 6 weeks, we find it important to appreciate small victories. Our greatest milestone thus far has been achieving profitability via ppc. Although the sample size is small and our ppc campaign has only been running for 3 weeks, we currently have strong margins. If anything, we feel that our product has been validated.
What are your next milestones?
Our model works and is profitable, even just using ppc. As our SEO improves (we are a content machine as well), and brand awareness increases, we expect even stronger numbers. As a result, we plan on raising money so that we can expand into order states more rapidly, thereby increasing our volume and impact.
Who are your mentors and role models?
We have many mentors that come from all walks of life and we love watching Charlie Rose. For example, one of our mentors is Oprah, who has taught us to always trust our intuition. Another mentor is Will Smith, who has distilled the secret of success down to two actions “reading and running.”
What are some of the advantages/disadvantages growing your startup outside of Silicon Valley.
There are less opportunities in New Jersey, broadly speaking. Our last startup was located in LA, which isn’t nearly as popular as Silicon Valley or New York. However, even there we were constantly meeting new people and attending events. There were many business and partnership opportunities and overall “startup glamour.” New Jersey is a lot slower-paced.
On the flip side, the greatest advantage of being in a small scene is that it allows you to focus on your product. In a big startup city, you have a million people, with a million opinions. Since startup people always think they’re right, it’s easy to get swayed or distracted by these varying opinions or lose yourself in the scene. But in New Jersey, there is no noise. You can focus 100% on your product and customers.
What’s next for your startup?
Our next milestone is to raise money. We have validated our product in New Jersey and want to expand.
Where can people find out more?