A spoiled quinceanera led to a hackathon win led to the creation of Legitimo. The New York-based startup has created a mobile app for legal documents, similar to Shake.
Unlike Shake, though, Legitimo also provides simple legal agreements in Spanish, a necessity for the 69 million Spanish speakers in the US.
Check out our Q&A with Legitimo co-founder Nikhil Jhunjhnuwala below, and if you’re in need of simple (Spanish!) legal documents, you can download the app on Android and iPhone.
What is your startup called?
What’s the story behind your idea?
It began with a frantic phone call from Julia, a middle schooler I mentor in Los Angeles. Angrily, she explained how her family recently got ripped off during her quinceañera party. The venue they had rented was a complete mess and understaffed, the band left early, and everything was out of order. Basically, Julia’s special day was ruined and any hope for restitution was doubtful because Julia’s family did not sign any written agreements, making it difficult to prove what exactly was agreed upon.
Upon hearing this story, I envisioned an app that gave ordinary people free legal protection by helping them create simple, and legally binding, contracts on the go. Some months later, that vision was realized at “El Hackathon” sponsored by LATISM. Twenty-four grueling hours later, we walked away with the grand prize and a prototype of Legitimo that would quickly become our obsession.
Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds?
I’m a former USC Law student turned startup junkie. Keval Amin is my best friend and a graphic designer, and Legitimo is our third startup together. The other two are StartEngine incubated myRight (R.I.P) and ramen profitable LegalCrunch. We met both Sameer Kanda and Maria Gutierrez at the Hackathon event. Sameer is a developer with over 10 years of experience and is currently mining LiteCoin at the speed of broadband. Maria is a lawyer from Argentina who recently passed the New York State bar.
Fun fact: 3 out of the 4 founders dropped out of school. Can you guess who the honor student is?
Where are you based?
We are based in New York City (specifically SoHo).
What’s the startup scene like where you are based?
There’s always something going on in “Silicon Alley”! It’s amazing to see so many events taking place each week. After you go to some you start see similar faces and really feel a sense of community. At the same time, newcomers are welcomed without hesitation. We went to El Hackathon on a whim and never imagined that it would lead to a real product, let alone a win.
What problem do you solve?
Sometimes you need a contract, but hiring a lawyer is expensive and online templates aren’t personalized. Without a convenient solution, most people forgo this basic legal protection, which unfortunately increases the likelihood of scam or fraud. No written record means it’s hard to prove what terms were agreed upon and disputes often come down to a he-said, she-said battle, the sorts of which you see on Judge Judy.
Legitimo solves this problem by making it easy to create, sign, and send personalized agreements on mobile devices in seconds. Additionally, Legitimo translates contracts into other languages, allowing people that don’t speak the same language (or people that just don’t speak English for that matter) enter into legally binding agreements. Currently we support English and Spanish, but plan on expanding globally, ultimately becoming a Rosetta Stone for simple agreements.
We’re initially targeting the Latino community because they are the fastest growing demographic in the US with the highest rates of smartphone usage. Capturing brand loyalty at this critical time will be important. Additionally, there are over 60 million Americans, and many more people abroad, that regularly engage in informal economies that are largely cash-based, making it difficult to take legal action should something go wrong. This is a huge problem because people end up losing money with no remedy. With a pain point this obvious and an increasing demand, it’s inevitable that something like Legitimo would make its way into the market.
What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?
We just launched an Android and iPhone App!
What are your next milestones?
Our next milestone is to reach 100 real users, and then reach out to those users learn everything we can. Once we figure out a strong market fit, we plan on scaling. But right now we’re focused on listening.
Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?
For updates, visit our website or follow us on Twitter.