Shrijay An Entrepreneur who helps entrepreneurs
Shrijay An Entrepreneur who helps entrepreneurs

An Entrepreneur who helps entrepreneurs avoid heavy lifting on legal matters

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Shrijay Seth came from a reputed business family that was in the business of offset printing for generations. He followed the trodden family path of acquiring a management degree from the US. However, working in the US for Legalzoom and his own inner entrepreneurial spirit prompted him to jump headlong into entrepreneurship. Listen to Shrijay Sheth of Legalwiz, an entrepreneur who helps entrepreneurs avoid heavy lifting on legal matters.

Most of us work at a job and imagine either changing jobs or growing in the same organization. Shrijay took the awesome things that Legalzoom stood for and set about to replicate the same for Indian entrepreneurs by founding and setting up LegalWiz on the path to scale. Four years hence and having served thousands of entrepreneurs, he still feels like he is just starting up. A tale full of humility and excitement. A great story!

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Here are some excerpts from the Episode:

What is Legalwiz?

Legalwiz is primarily a portal where startups and small businesses can find business professional help. So anywhere from registering a company all the way to dissolution and a lot of compliances intellectual property, protection and stuff that comes in between.

Shrijay 2:10

There was also a new India that was emerging where a lot of entrepreneurs were first generation entrepreneurs, not necessarily having you know right set of access to professional services.

And more importantly, there was a prevailing problem statement where, you know, simplicity of services, affordability and transparency, you know, and a good mix of that was slightly missing.

Shrijay 3:35

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Listen to our previous episode with Alex, who talks about Out-Innovating Silicon Valley: Season 1, Episode 23

Focus Point of Legalwiz

I think, definitely, we have been very progressive in terms of. You know, how we looked at our product line and what becomes relevant. So to be very honest, when we started, right, a lot of focus was really on trademarking. B

ecause that was one product that we could deliver very quickly. Your trademark gets registered or not really registered but at least the application process happens to be very quick and you can really kind of turn around within a day or a couple of days.

It was really a focus point, because while the e-commerce wave was new to people, we could really establish a lot of trust with that.

Shrijay 7:20

So it took roughly around eight months for us to ideate and build a portal and the technology backbone to sustain your data larger scale and stuff.

So we always wanted to be scale ready. And so it took roughly around eight months to kind of from ideation all the way to. You know, building a very state of art website, creating a lot of content, building processes, assembling a team. We launched LegalWiz in April 2016.

Shrijay 24:53

When you talk about business professional services, a lot of times, people also associate that with a lot of non disclosure of information. And how secured you are. So, building a brand, given that background of people’s mindset was, I think the biggest challenge

Shrijay 46:14

Show Notes

Follow Shrijay Sheth here @shethshrijay on Twitter

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Episode Transcript

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SUMMARY KEYWORDS

people, building, services, company, business, india, entrepreneurs, clients, startups, customer, terms, talk, days, big, product, set, brand, trust, deliver, krishna

SPEAKERS

Shrijay, Nida, Krishna Jonnakadla

Krishna Jonnakadla  00:01

This is Maharajas of Scale, a podcast where we go behind the scenes and talk to founders who are demolishing the myths around building and scaling a big business in India. These are the stories that have shattered the assumptions around Indian consumers and are changing the game completely. I am Krishna Jonnakadla, serial entrepreneur, co founder of FLIT, the Fashion Locator In Town and start mentor bringing you these stories. Hey7 listeners, this is Krishna from Maharajas of Scale and today we have an exciting young speaker Shrijay Sheth of Leaglwiz. What is interesting about Shrijay is a lot of us work in companies. We work in companies that have products that have software products that have hardware products and then we might spend a few years in those companies and then at that later on, decide that okay, I'm so comfortable in my job but I just need to climb higher. Shrijay is an entrepreneur. We are going to hear from him in his story, how he is an entrepreneur and how he leveraged all of his experience into starting what he did right now, Shrijay, welcome to the show.

Shrijay  01:03

Thanks a lot Krishna for having me and definitely very excited to you know, share whatever little knowledge that I have. I am glad to share that and hope it adds value. Thanks a lot for having me here.

Krishna Jonnakadla  01:14

Great. So Shrijay, tell us a little bit about yourself and what are you working on right now?

Shrijay  01:18

Sure. So my name is Shrijay and I have a pretty decent, long lived background in e commerce. Academically, I did my masters MBA in corporate finance from San Diego, California. And then in early 2013, I came back to India and then in 2015 16, I ideated Legalwiz, and launched the product along with my co founder then Namann Pipara and then ever since I've been working on legalwiz. So it's been a phenomenal journey and we provide legal services or business professional services over internet and we've been here to kind of, you know, democratize the law in certain senses. So working hard on it.

Krishna Jonnakadla  02:01

Great. Tell us some interesting numbers about your venture in terms of any numbers that can help the listeners understand the extent of scale that you've achieved so far.

Shrijay  02:10

Sure. So Legalwiz is, as I mentioned, is primarily a portal where startups and small businesses can find business professional help. So anywhere from registering a company all the way to dissolution and a lot of compliances intellectual property, protection and stuff that comes in between, our journey so far has been pretty good. We are a bootstrap company, functional since last four years, operationally five years since its incorporation. And as we speak about the numbers, we probably have around, you know, roughly 5000 paying clients that we have served so far. And if I just kind of put that in perspective, on a month on month basis, we are close to roughly around 1% of total companies that get incorporated in India anywhere. It happens to be from this small office of legalwiz.in, so that's sort of the scale that we work at at this point of time.

Krishna Jonnakadla  03:00

So the actual user base is around lakh and a half, isn't it?

Shrijay  03:03

Yes. So, so we, on a recurring basis, we have roughly around anywhere between one to 1.5 lakh visitors that we, you know, sort of entertain on our website on every month. And then we have a registered user base of more than 50,000 entrepreneurs, budding entrepreneurs, small scale businesses and startups. Yeah. And then, you know, a large chunk of that,  we had our paid client at some point of time and in scaling.

Krishna Jonnakadla  03:31

Interesting. How did the idea for legalwiz come about?

Shrijay  03:35

So when I came back to India in 2013, before that, I definitely shared a pretty extensive background in legal tech. So I used to work for a company called legalzoom.com, which is our leader in legal e commerce, or legal tech, you know, as we kind of named target. Legal Zoom is a very mature organization functional back in the US, holding majority of the share of the US market and then also into other countries now, but when I came back in 2013, you know I sort of found myself more privileged when, when I had to start a consulting business, and there were a lot of services at my disposal, because my family has always been into business for, you know, generations. So, so we already had a lot of, you know, people to help us out in that journey. But what I found was, there was also a new India that was emerging where a lot of entrepreneurs were first generation entrepreneurs, not necessarily having you know right set of access to professional services. And more importantly, there was a prevailing problem statement where, you know, simplicity of services, affordability and transparency, you know, and a good mix of that was slightly missing. And a lot of times, it was not just, you know, business professionals, you know, sort of  drawback in creating that service line, but it was also a perceptional issue, and how the delivery of service happened so, we really thought that, you know, the challenges were different it was not just uprisings allenge it was way beyond that. But I think at the same time, if we could create something which was very meaningful and you know, sort of standardized the services across spectrum, it could have added a lot of value. So that sort of ideated legalwiz, per se, and obviously, back then, you know, my co founder, Naman Pipara, he had a background in professional services, a practicing chartered accountancy firm they had. So obviously, you know, that added a lot of a lot of backbone. So with me, and Naman side by side, it was just a great I think co founding team and at the same time, you know, something that we could dream of making big and more importantly, create a lot of value in the startup ecosystem, which was on the rise and still on the rise in Indian market. So that's what was, you know, the rationale behind Ideating and executing legalwiz.in.

Krishna Jonnakadla  05:50

Interesting. I have to sort of bring in some points that I keep seeing, I'm part of lots of startup forums and the number one question seems to be Okay, where can I register my company? Or what sort of IP can I create? So I can definitely tell you that what you are, in fact, working on is some, I guess, one of the top five topics that are at least in the minds of entrepreneurs, and given the state of compliance in our country, the number of things that you need to comply with, you're definitely going to take a load of their hands. Right.

Shrijay  06:20

Absolutely. And I think that's a great compliment, and, and probably more so a good validation coming from somebody who has been close to, you know, the ecosystem. I think, if that is one challenge that's been seen, you know, seem to be very visible. I think we are on a very right track to solve that. So thanks a lot for validating that again, for us.

Krishna Jonnakadla  06:37

Well, you know, in terms of number of enterprises in India MSMEs there are 63 million. But if we were to just look at number of companies with a paid of capital of over 10 crores and we are talking about the fourth or fifth largest economy right now that we are I'm not sure whether we are fourth or fifth and then only 19,500 companies over 10 crores of paid up capital So, if there are 5000 companies that you're serving, it has, you know, some amount of impact. But let's step back a little when you initially thought about legalwiz the current product that you see, has it metamorphosed? Or has it changed? Or is it exactly the same product as what you began?

Shrijay  07:20

I think, definitely, we have been very progressive in terms of, you know, how we looked at our product line and what becomes relevant. So to be very honest, when we started, right, a lot of focus was really on trademarking, because that was one product that we could deliver very quickly, you know, your trademark gets registered or not really registered, but, you know, at least the application process happens to be very quick and you can really kind of turn around, you know, within a day or a couple of days, it was really a focus point, because, you know, while the e commerce wave was new to people, we could really establish a lot of trust with that. And secondly, obviously, because a lot of people needed trademarking right. As we moved along, we also saw that the larger journeys that we can get associated and really make a big impact is when we have the client at the company Incorporation. And so it becomes very profitable for the company to acquire such clients and stay vested in their growth and their success, you know, so that if they make big, we also make big, you know, along with them. So definitely over time, you know, nonetheless, new services added, obviously, you know, there were many new services that we added. And right now, we have probably around 80 standardized services across the portal. And then also a lot of services, which are kind of adhoc in nature. But more importantly, also, it made us learn how to kind of tap into the lifetime value of the customer and really kind of add a lot of value to them. So, so focus has probably in that sense, you know, slightly shifted, but overall, I think every client is a good client, and we care for every client the same way that we care for any other client, so so that has been part of our DNA, customer service customer service customer service, I guess, you know is the is the major success one could get.

Krishna Jonnakadla  09:05

Go into a little more detail. It is one thing to talk customer service, but a totally different thing to actually have get the philosophy right, explain or rather elaborate what I mean. So for instance, if you take Starbucks as an example, it is world renowned for its service. And the way a business like Starbucks functions is, let's say, at least in the US, or in India, an average cup of coffee, the various types of coffee costs anywhere between 270 rupees all the way up to 700 rupees depending upon the size. And Starbucks has this guarantee that if your cup is not right, or if that beverage is not right, they will make it all over again. Right. Right. Now, with Indian companies what I've seen is that all these are empty promises, and I'll give you an example urban company or urban clap. I've been using their services for a long time. I respect and admire what they've done in terms of standardizing access to all these miscellaneous services, electricians and all of that. So there's an annual membership that you take, and I've been a member for the last couple of years, and one fine day, as soon as the lockdown was lifted, we needed a plumber. And you know, our appointments were confirmed. And in both times, an extra charge was levied because it was supposed to be in high demand. In spite of collecting the charge, both on three days straight, nobody showed up and urban clap did not do anything about it. All they did was refund the money and they had renewed my annual membership so much for being a loyal member and annual membership. So they claim great customer service but unfortunately, they didn't do anything to go out of their way and really ensure that somebody who is waiting on a big problem you know, when it when there is a plumbing problem, the whole house water supply gets affected and in spite of being a loyal customer there was nothing that they did. So, talk a little more when you say it's customer service customer service, how do you practically deliver on that philosophy?

Shrijay  11:09

Right. So I think first thing Krishna is, you know, definitely going COVID being like a very exceptional time. I think it definitely demanded a major shift in, you know, how you deal with things and not really taking away from any company that is so renowned, I guess the larger the company might also have taken a little bit more time to kind of readjust. But I will talk about what, you know, legalwiz does is, when we say that we are customer centric company, we really, you know, kind of stand by that and it does not only remain in talks, but that is something that's been talked about you know at a company level discussions all the time, which kind of, you know, cultivates an environment and a culture within the company to become very customer centric. Now, a lot of times we very openly speak that, you know, there's the role of the leadership is to really take care of the employees so that they can take care of the customers you know in the same way. So I think that is not something that we just talked about, but you know, implement that as well. Talking about the policies, definitely, you know, we have policies around customer service and hundred percent satisfaction guarantee or money back. And also, in very rare instances, we also given the money back at the same time, completed the services as well, to kind of just make sure that no customer you know, leaves the portal with a bitter taste in mouth, right. So, so that is implemented. I think the other thing that is that sets us apart in where the numbers speak for the quality of services, across different portals, you know, without any misrepresentation or built up reviews on a very genuine and organic reviews, we rate roughly around 9.7, 9.6 out of 10 with a large customer set. So it kind of speaks volumes about the kind of services that we provide. More importantly, these NPS numbers are, you know, visited back from our data teams from our customer service team. And they've been act upon. So when there is an email that comes to a customer service with the grievances, obviously, you know, that is something that really kind of, you know, elevates the level of discussions that are happening and, and we try our best to resolve them ASAP. Also, we have been very, very, very, you know, sort of sensitive about keeping our net promoter scores very high. And so, what that means is not just the customer care team, but somebody from the leadership but also somebody from the data team continuously monitors, both qualitative and quantitative aspects of NPS and really try to drive the conversations on how we can better those NPSs or how we can retain those NPS scores, you know, month over month, day over day and moment over moment, I guess so. So there has been a phenomenal you know sort of not just the pressure but more importantly a culture that's been created to become a very customer centric company and we take example of you know, companies that have done phenomenally good and how they have done it and you know, kind of visit the case studies of those and see you know, how to kind of build right and very customer centric company. Also one of the other things why we talk about you know, the core, the core values of the company, we are very proud to carry, you know, our vision statement, which very recently got formalized is not really to become the most profitable company in the trade, but to become the most trusted company in the trade and I think that kind of sets that culture right there is, we are not here just to make money, but the money is definitely you know, one of the larger motives and we want to become profitable and make a lot of money and that is everybody's ambition, right but at the same time, how do we do that sustainably I think it only happens when we become the most trusted company in the trade and not just chase the profit. So so that definitely sets us apart in a lot of metrics that we that we monitor around and on customer centric behavior that we have.

Krishna Jonnakadla  15:11

Very interesting that you should touch about or touch upon trust. I'll come back to that. Let's revisit or rather focus on your journey prior to legalwiz. How long were you in the US? And what's your background? How did you end up there? And what sort of family background do you come from?

Shrijay  15:28

Sure. So I'll start with the family because that goes a long way. Right, my family we have been in Ahmedabad Gujarat for quite some time. A few generations now and then we've been in business for quite a many generations as well. So if we talk about, you know how the business kind of becomes an obvious choice for kids in the family, we have been generational entrepreneurs and the flagship business that the family owns right now is an offset printing press which is now a third generation close to around 80 years old business. One of the oldest offset printing presses in Ahmedabad and a very reputed one as well. So, it was kind of obvious that at some point of time, I had to kind of opt for business, you know, a lot of my my, like my family members and my cousins and everybody had gone to US for studying their master's program, right. So, so as somebody who was more like a follower, back then, I also had a thing that I also have to gain my, you know, further education from US. And so, you know, back in 2008, I went to the US, not really 2008, 2006 early I'd been there for around seven years. My first couple of years definitely was more educational and I joined University, San Diego State University in California to complete my master's MBA in finance, corporate finance, and then post that I opted for a work experience job so I worked at an Workforce Investment Board of California called San Diego workforce partnership and then kind of gradually moved up from only a corporate finance or finance background to get more involved in analytics and strategy and stuff like that, that is when I joined a company called Legal Zoom, which is in the same domain in the US and I stayed with them for around five years tenure that I had with them both as an employee in the US and then when I came back to India, very luckily also retained as a consultant for analytics. So, so that was, you know, my sort of educational background and how I got to the US and eventually opted for a job now. When I was at LegalZoom, one thing that really impressed me was how customer centric they used to be in you know, back in the days and and how they could really pull off a product which helped millions of people to you know, consume legal services at the time when it is otherwise not very affordable back in the US, lawyers are extremely expensive, right. So so compliance was you know, issue because If you don't stay compliant, obviously the penalties were high. And if you want to stay compliant, then the legal services were very high. And it was kind of a, you know, chicken and egg situation for a lot of startups. So Legal Zoom really kind of made that change come possible and something that I really admired. And when I came back to India, I really thought because the challenges were different, as I told it was more of an accessibility and transparency as a challenge rather than pricing. But I really thought that if we could do it, do this at scale, and consistently do it with a great quality of service, this can definitely become a new norm for a lot of people to you know, to very easily start and manage their businesses. And ideally, an entrepreneur should always focus on what they are supposed to focus on, which is their product development, their market capturing and stuff like that. And then services like these are, in my opinion best to be left at a professionals discretion or experts advice. In this case, you know, we jump in and solve a lot of matters for them. So, so I think, you know, journey kind of brought me organically into this business. And I'm really glad that, you know, I've been given an opportunity to to make it happen.

Krishna Jonnakadla  19:15

Interesting. Let's delve into the beginning a little bit. Why did you decide to go the bootstrapping way? And why why not raise money?

Shrijay  19:26

I don't really think it was one way or the other, to be honest. Right. Definitely, you know, given the right opportunity, we will raise funds, I think we are now feeling a lot better than earlier to kind of raise money because we have a very strong use case and and, you know, capabilities that we can deliver upon one thing that probably you know, prompted us to go bootstrap ways. We really wanted to build a product and service that we thought that we could consume for our own businesses, right. So at times, sometimes I do feel that an added pressure from outsiders equity participation really kind of puts you into that stress where you have to compromise on certain things. I thought I thought that was one of the factors. Nonetheless, it does not take away anything from other great companies who are in the domain and have raised funding. Some of them are really brilliant. The second thing is very fortunately, we did have access to funds. Right. So as I told that the family had a strong background, and obviously I had, you know, seven years of working in the US and, and, you know, some capital that I could, I could save in my personal capacity, I thought it was really helpful in building the company and managing the cash burns and stuff like that. I really just think that I was privileged enough to you know, use those resources to build the company and now you know, the company is at a stage where, you know, it is ready for that hyper growth wave. So, say I think it's just fortunate that you know, we had those amount of funds at our disposal that we could deploy against growth. And that sort of helped us stay in bootstrap, I guess.

Krishna Jonnakadla  21:08

I see. So the starting point when you decided to launch it, did you go full time into it?

Shrijay  21:14

Yes. So, definitely majority of my attention is legalwiz. It has always been legalwiz, there is a consultancy firm, as I told, you know, I had a couple of years work when I came back to India. Legal Zoom still retained me as a consultant before I started legalwiz. And so definitely there was a consulting business, which is very niche, boutique style, you know, working with no more than five clients at a time for Hire4Higher consulting, where we've been privileged to work with a lot of hyper growing startups and get some good referral clients, you know, like, the clients like the books.com and meundies.com and hopskip drive and a couple of other casemade.com. So some of the really good you know, ecommerce stories in that the US has ever seen. We've been part of those and really a lot of learning out of that. So definitely some amount of time, you know, goes to there. But I think it only helps us to become a lot more mature ecommerce platform because there is just so much of learning that we get out of it. But yeah, if I speak about the time, I think primarily most of my time goes to legalwiz.in

Krishna Jonnakadla  22:24

How was the decision with the family usually, especially if you're from a business family. Did they look at this as a business? Or was it an easy conversation saying that, hey, I'm going on my own. I'm trying to do a startup. And I'm not going to be associated with the family business anymore. Were any of these conversations that you had prior to starting up?

Shrijay  22:45

Absolutely. So when I came back, you know, to India, definitely, it kind of started as a small time again, I'm talking about for Hire4Higher the consulting company and I because Legal Zoom gave me an option to kind of retain as a consultant and I thought it was really good for me because there was always at back of the mind idea that what if I don't settle down after seven years, you know, there was a flexibility that if you want to come back then, you know, might as well just take along. And, you know, if things don't work out for you in India, then you always have a chance to come back, and vice versa. So, so I thought it was a great transition move, the transition move prolong for almost two and a half years since 2013, to I think, mid 15 and early 16. And so, so by 2015, when I decided to, you know, kind of do legalwiz.in as my full time and you know, focused venture, I really had a background as an independent entrepreneur in India, apart from my family business. So that is how I think the conversations became very, very easy. And nonetheless, it was always hoped for that I joined the family business I think, Hire4Hiring was also substantially good money making stream that I Couldn't, you know kind of just let go. So I think everybody was on board with the idea that, you know, while we have family businesses, this is probably one more good addition to the portfolio and and it just happened to be that way. So I think it was really a good transition. And very fortunately, I got that advantage of that.

Krishna Jonnakadla  24:20

So legalwiz was the first independent venture, or rather Hire4Higher ?

Shrijay  24:25

Hire4Higher was the first independent venture where LegalZoom was the first client of Hire4Higher.

Krishna Jonnakadla  24:30

Legalwiz was the first product venture, I suppose.

Shrijay  24:33

Legalwiz, which was the first product venture. Yes, that's correct.

Krishna Jonnakadla  24:36

So in the beginning, how was the beginning like how long did it take you to launch the first product first site and what was the initial traction? Like how did you go about getting your first 20-50 hundred clients. Talk to us about that initial journey.

Shrijay  24:53

So it took roughly around eight months for us to ideate and build a portal and the technology backbone to sustain your data larger scale and stuff. So we always wanted to be scale ready. And and so it took roughly around eight months to kind of from ideation all the way to, you know, building a very state of art website, creating a lot of content, building processes, assembling a team. We launched legalWiz in April 2016. And first few clients were very interesting, because so obviously, you know, we use some paid mediums like Google PPC and whatnot to get, you know, the initial traction, but at the same time, we are also in something that we still do is, we also stayed very grounded and attached to the entrepreneurship community that thrived in Ahmedabad and beyond. And so a lot of people really kind of had trust on us because we were not just virtual but also tangible in a lot of senses. And I think that helped us build our first you know, set of promoters, evangelists, you know, however, what are the fancy words for that, but really, people you know, got connected to us. We met a lot of entrepreneurs we understood, you know, the problems that they were facing a lot of times very early stage entrepreneurs and startups, even till date I go to a lot of, you know, sort of universities and, and connect with students and deliver lectures in terms of entrepreneurship, marketing, scaling digitally and stuff like that. It just gives tremendous perspective on what are some of the challenges that these guys are facing, right and, and it just becomes a very organically of product building. So in initial days, we did that, if we are doing that at, you know, in the frequency of one today, then we used to do that 10 X back then, but nonetheless, that really paid off, you know, building a brand, which came from grassroots and really stayed attached with the community here. So, so yeah, that was our initial approaches, is really to work with entrepreneurs. You know, obviously there was a lot of differential in terms of you know what pricing could have been in a while I could charge big dollars for Hire4Higher, you know, probably for the same time, I would never be able to charge anything at legalwiz. But I think the idea remains the same that let's sit together and understand, you know, what could be the product that can be served, or that can serve, you know, population at large, that can be standardized. And at the same time, you know, that delivers the highest value to the customers and, and so that was our route.

Krishna Jonnakadla  27:23

So you did something that a lot of entrepreneurs are urged to do you just get out of the building and talk to your potential users.

Shrijay  27:31

Oh, absolutely. I mean, there are some really brilliant, you know, communities like each eye and headstart and you know, there are a lot of good incubators around here like IIM CIIE or Innocity and you know, now now there are many more, but I think, you know, initially back in the days, we were very, very aggressive in you know, getting in touch with people and I think if you want to build a very sustainable product, it's always good to have it heard from the horse's mouth. Also things that we, even today, in my personal time, I also kind of do is, I hear the recordings at times that we have in a customer call center and, and really try to figure out, you know, where our communications are going right wrong, whether they are adding value, you know, coaching people on those and stuff like that. So I truly believe that there is no other way, you know, but to kind of hear it from the horse's mouth if you want to build build a great product.

Krishna Jonnakadla  28:27

So you start, you did all this research, and at what point of time, did you get a sense that we are doing something relevant, we are building something relevant. So what you said before we should be building something we ourselves use. So you know, I call it the dogfooding effect, eating your own dog food or scratching your own itch, so to speak, where you intuitively because you've been out there, you feel that there is a need for a lot, and then you build one right and then you start looking because for many things, there isn't a easy and efficient way to do market research. Right? So but a good entrepreneur has a certain pulse, the exact timing that will drive the overall success is not really in your hands, but you just have some sense of it. So at what point of time did it occurred to you that yes, you're on the right path, and you are building something of value, it is getting validated.

Shrijay  29:24

So I think for our case, it has not really been kind of a hockey stick thing where you are kind of flat or negative for some time, and then suddenly, you see a growth in that we always been gradually growing and growing strong, but there are definitely some moments where, you know, we could really think that yes, we are adding value and I think the initial indicators of those would have been you know, when a lot of people on those put me in touch groups and stuff like that on social media. They asked for relevant services and every time people would,  I would see at least a few people, you know, vouching for legalwiz service on those portals. And that is when I guess, I started realizing that now this is something serious and we are really adding value to people, right? So I think when things started getting visible in terms of word of mouth, you know, promotion or more than promotion, you know, people really kind of our own customer is vouching for our service. And it just started becoming more visible. So at, you know, when you have a smaller customer base, obviously, it's fragmented. And so you don't really see an impact of that, but there is definitely, you know, a moment where you figure out that, okay, now people are, you know, tagging us and people are talking about our services and people are referring those services to other people that they might not even know on those social media groups and stuff. I think that was sort of a moment where we all thought that now this is getting serious. Also a few other, you know, instances when, you know, like in back I think back in 2016-17, there was there are startup India or Gujarat startups, you know, trade fair. So, so we participated in that. And then we could see a lot of not just a lot of clients, but a lot of people came to our booth and they  told that they either knew about us or they have been procuring our services. And we could really see that, you know, there are people who are interested in bringing either that to our attention that yes, we are your clients, or somehow they have heard of us. And I think that is when we, we thought that this is something really great that we are building.

Krishna Jonnakadla  31:33

Interesting. What are the key inflection points, two or three turning points where it occurred to you that yes, not not only do we have validation, but in some sense, we are going to become something bigger or it is going to cross this path. What are some of those turning points?

Shrijay  31:52

So I think some of those turning points could be one obviously, you see, you know, great change in your own numbers and since I always been a data guy, that's something, you know, that's, that's just there. But more importantly, I believe, you know, there were also some very good opportunities that people created for us, for example, in a national level, you know, we were sort of brought or called for, you know, to, to suggest, you know, how the ecosystem can, you know, can be better and, and what could be the things that we could do from a governmental standpoint and, and stuff and also, you know, a lot of bigger players started watching us and not just the competitors, but also people who wanted to do partnerships with us. And I think that is when we realized that Okay, now we are Big. So some national level brands and, and huge brands who, you know, sort of came to us and they were like, you know, we would really want to work with you. So, you know, we either consume your services or or offer that to our clients or, you know, if you promote our services because you are meaningful in this domain. I think that is when we started realizing that Okay, now we not only have a proof of concept but we also have something very strong where people would want to leverage our network and that really made us feel really good and proud about ourselves.

Krishna Jonnakadla  33:08

Interesting. So, there's one different approach that you talked about you you know, obviously got out of the building, spoke to a lot of founders. Now that you have a certain degree of established traffic some degree of scale, you know, although I say is still scratching the surface for the amount of possibilities that exist, what are some of your changes, what sort of things are you doing differently right now.

Shrijay  33:32

So, there are many things that now we are doing differently obviously, the processes have increased, there is a level of standardization that we are you know, bringing in the processes, we are defining things and how they should be tackled and really build up brand right. So, in your initial days, you want to do everything that could please a customer and we still do a lot of things that would ease our customers, but at the same time, you know, when you when you become a little bigger brand, what really needs to be done is when somebody from the office talks to a client or, or a prospective client. It's not that the person is talking, it is the brand that is talking. And so you need to you need to standardize standardize a lot of things in terms of tonality, in terms of kind of emails that go out, in terms of other communications that happen, in terms of frequency of communication, right. So, so definitely, there are a lot of procedural things which have changed over last one year. You know, since we have started getting a lot more volumes, apart from that, I think, you know, adding new services, expanding horizons, that's definitely something that we think has to be very continuous. And so we've entered different domains. We have started new services, we have started interacting with people in terms of, you know, webinars and podcasts and stuff like that. We have started partnering with bigger brands and, and launched our partner portal very recently. So there is a lot that's happening and now we have a knowledge that we have a customer base, which is with us and trust us at a very infant stage, there are definitely a lot more possibilities to sell them right and sell them better. And so so bringing those items to our portfolio, I think is the biggest change that has happened in last one year for us.

Krishna Jonnakadla  35:18

Interesting. So let's go back to the trust tangle that you spoke about some time ago. It is not the I suppose it's the first time I've heard a entrepreneur talk about trust is one of those things which are essential. And for some strange reason people think you either have it or you don't. But the reality is that if you consciously work towards operationalizing trust building, you can definitely get there. The fact that when you get for example, when I get onto your site, you talk about the number of businesses served, you have unfiltered customer ratings and you have a satisfaction guarantee. And the first thing that you're talking about is asking somebody to read your satisfaction guarantee. What that tells me is you're putting trust front and center. Right?

Shrijay  36:03

Absolutely.

Krishna Jonnakadla  36:03

But let's go one step forward, while India is you know, has gained reputation for services, service sector is a largest growing part, but the last mile. So for instance, in your, in the set of services that you offer, the people that are dealing with trademarks, or the people that are helping with a company registration, they all end up dealing with government agencies. And in most cases, dealing with government agencies obviously means you're dealing with a lot of intermediaries. And then it becomes a last mile problem whereby the last mile is usually, you know, made up of people who are possibly drawn from tier two cities. And what that does is many times you know, it leads to a breakdown in, you know, the quality of the services delivered and also affects the outcome in many cases. How have you been able to overcome that problem, is it because you employ a different set of people? How are you protecting the quality last mile because you're a portal, the portal is where the process starts, but the actual delivery is where the quality really gets impacted in terms of the amount of time the money or the outcome.

Shrijay  37:17

Absolutely, and Krishna, there is a, that is a very relevant question, right? Because we deal with a lot of external stakeholders where sometimes the quality of service also gets impacted by how not just how we perform but how you know the others perform. Right. One thing that is a secret sauce to this and in something that I I have learned through experiences, a lot of times trust building is not just about delivering or not delivering trust building is also very essential to how you keep your communications going. Right. And so if I talk that in perspective, a lot of times what happens is, people might not get frustrated because see your company did not get registered in 10 days, it took 12 days, right? People understand that you're dealing with government and it might take a little bit extra hour or whatever. But I think if at all there is any distress that comes it really comes from you not telling them or informing them about the delays, right. So, there is one thing that we have done very right is to coach our team to be in continuous communication. And, and that is, that is the key to build trust, right. The second thing is, obviously as a service provider, and you being in a service providing industry, I think persistence is the key, right? So you when you hit a roadblock, a lot of times what happens is, those projects are put on site or back burners by professionals, right. So something that we have very explicitly trained people on is not to put that on backburner, but, but to more aggressively follow even with agencies and, and make sure that we put in our best effort that we can justify to our clients. That, you know, we have been working actively on this case and, and that has really helped us, you know, building that. So so i think that's that's what the key is, it is not about, you know, just delay or on time delivery, it is rather about how well you keep your customers in the loop and that really reflects both in our tech stack as well as you know, how we communicate with with people as experts providing them such services.

Krishna Jonnakadla  39:23

Very interesting. You should say that because something tells me that this is an outcome of the amount of time you spent working in the US because over the last I moved back in the year 2014, as well. And in some sense, I keep telling people the same thing. Trust stems from the ability to provide a degree of transparency in what you're doing. Right, exactly. So whether it's a 10 day time frame or a 12 day timeframe, you let me know, you let me know that it is going to take X amount of time if it's going if it's going to take 10 days you tell me 10 days and the funny thing is when you go to the US and you engage with various people, private sector, public sector, or in the government, let's say you go went to the Department of Motor Vehicles and you applied for a license if the average time frame is two to three weeks. Let's say the outer limit is three weeks. Right. But looking at the amount of information that you had, if you had all your paperwork, there was a real chance that you were going to get the license in two days, what we would most of the time see is they would always tell you two to three weeks correct. So that they do not set up a wrong expectation, right? That it is actually going to come out in three days because the thing is, you set up a wrong expectation now for God forbid, something happens and it ends up really taking two days or sorry, two weeks, and you all of a sudden lost their trust. On the contrary, this is a craft that is for example, Narayan Murthy of Infosys said long ago. What was the secret to creating wealth and then making sure that everybody that touched Infosys, you know, stakeholders, share holders , everybody was happy. He said under promise over deliver. Right?

Shrijay  41:03

Absolutely. That is the key under promise over deliver is the key. And and so to kind of put that in perspective, right, it is a couple of years back or a year back Indian Government and the Ministry of Corporate affairs announced that you could now register the company in a day. Technically, that is right, if you've done. So registration of company comes with a lot of processes like you know, procuring your digital signatures and drafting your moa, you know, filing for the registration, and in a lot of other processes. What they meant by doing that is registration or a part of ease of doing business campaign. It was the registration. So if you apply for registration, you get it done within 24 hours. Obviously, there were a lot of other processes that one has to do before they actually make an application and typically that happens from professionals office, right. So at that point of time, I saw a lot of other websites, you know, not very prominent ones but they started campaigning about register your company in one day, where in legalwiz always had the timeline of 10 to 15 days on their website. So, we definitely saw a lot of people questioning us in that timeframe where you know, why these other people are doing it in one day? And are you delaying it by so many days because you have so much of backlog and so it really took time to educate our clientele as well that you know, yes, registration is one day, but at the same time, you know, there are other processes and when you explain them in the right manner, they get it, right. So at times, it also, you know, makes it very important that even though there could be shortcuts to, you know, getting that momentum going, sometimes you just have to wait for right opportunity. And more importantly, you have to craft your market with the most honest communication that you can have with your clients. And so I thought it would be good to share that you know, things like these happen but it does not call for a shortcut in business.

Krishna Jonnakadla  43:02

Right. So a combination of transparency, over communicating, which are not really hallmarks and traits of how we operate in India. And pretty interesting. Would you say it was the time that you spent in the US and maybe working with some American Corporation that possibly maybe not consciously but unconsciously, you sort of acquired those aspects?

Shrijay  43:25

I would definitely give credit to that. I mean, I have I've seen people in the US definitely be more on the, you know, stronger front of communication as compared to India. But that saying that I don't want to take away anything from some of the brilliant Indian companies also that we have seen and how they deliver work and one of the good examples is so I have an infant and we wanted to, you know, get a get a passport for him and very recently, you know, TCS has taken over the procedural part of the passport office in Ahmedabad and such brilliant work that they did. I mean, it was so different experience so much well, standard, you know, standards were so highly established and the processes were so fluent and fluid. I'm sure that India is trending that way. And there are definitely some great organizations who, who stick to those standards.

Krishna Jonnakadla  44:19

Yeah, no, no question about it, I think we are definitely starting to see a major change. In packaging for example, on one of our prior episodes, we had Anindita of yoga bars, yoga bars is a cereal company. And if you see their packaging, the branding, the quality of the cereal that they deliver, all of it is made in India, it is all designed locally and then manufactured locally, and the kind of quality and standards that they have been able to achieve is very high. And while Anindita and both of her co founders, they've had some stint in the US, I think you know, Indian companies are catching up fast. Another company in India that at least in Bangalore is a company called ID, which is into batter and processed food. So they've done a phenomenal job in everything, the way they communicate the way they market. Yeah, the way they package it is, it just means that we are finally starting to see a breed of Indian companies that are taking their customers seriously and going out and then understanding their contexts in a lot more detail. And it's heartening to see that sort of change. So go on.

Shrijay  45:33

Yeah, I was saying the good that you mentioned ID, because that's also a brand that we really kind of look up to, and, you know, how they, how they build the product and how they made it very accessible. You know, it's, it's just so brilliant that, you know, people could think out of the box and something that we consume on day to day basis, you know, commercialize that yet, you know, make it so robust in terms of offering that it becomes a very household brand. So yeah, lot of power to them for sure. Yeah.

Krishna Jonnakadla  46:02

So let's switch tracks a bit and talk about challenges. What sort of challenges have you encountered while starting up building the product, you know, getting users, anything of that sort.

Shrijay  46:14

There are many. And to start with, definitely, you know, since 2015 16, was still relevant, like relatively, you know, newer times for legal tech, and the acceptance was not there. Obviously, it took, you know, a decent amount of time, along with a lot of other brands who were trying to crack that market. At the same time, it was tough, you know, making people understand that such services can be procured online. You know, when you talk about business professional services, a lot of times, people also associate that with, you know, a lot of non disclosure of information and how secured you are, and, you know, those those kinds of things. So, so building a brand, you know, given that background of people's mindset was, I think the biggest challenge and you know, gradually working towards the communication, gradually working towards, you know, creating use cases, people who would vouch for the brand and stuff like that I think we could, like easily, you know, overcome that challenge, but definitely for the initial years, that was something that that really challenged us. The second thing is, you know, obviously, while we were bootstrapped, or you know, we were a little cautious about how to spend and where to spend and, you know, what gives us the best, you know, return for our buck spent and stuff like that. So, I think that has always been, you know, slight of a challenge, but at the same time, it is, you know, also fun working within that environment where you can really, you know, optimize the things for, for for better. So, those have been a couple of challenges. Apart from that, you know, a lot of things have been regularized in terms of, you know, just kind of creating culture that is more customer centric and, and when you have a new set of hires, just making sure that they align with your culture. So not just what I really think is, it's okay if you hire somebody who doesn't know whether they need a window or an aisle. But you have to first assess whether the person is worthy of the right or not. Right. And so so even though our hiring has been a little slow, I think for the initial team that we that we gathered up, we were very, very cautious on whether these are the right set of people who could cultivate that culture because culture is something that you can't really create as an entrepreneur that is always going to be created by the early employees and what kind of faith that they have in your entrepreneurial vision. If as an entrepreneur you focus or force that on people, it is always going to be a compulsion. And compulsion does not create culture. So really kind of brewing an environment where you know other employees also think about that being the right thing, I think was probably the biggest challenge.

Krishna Jonnakadla  48:54

Interesting. Go a little deeper into that operationalizing Culture is a key aspect. I do agree with you that the first set of people that you recruit sort of set the tone for the kind of culture that you end up actually having the founders or the co founder, the founding team definitely plays a significant role in that. But you do have to take steps to operationalize a culture, isn't it? Because what I traditionally see is, again, you know, having a set of vision statements and having a set of values is one thing, but how do you operationalize that? What degree of empowerment do you give, so for instance, in customer service, if you are focused on ensuring that you always have high customer satisfaction, you have to the frontline are the set of people that are in touch with the customer on a regular basis and understand the customer context, a lot more better than maybe senior people in the company need to have a degree of empowerment and they also need to have a degree of training because many times, empowerment without awareness and training creates a situation where they are possibly either giving up or concealing a lot, a lot of the times and then it creates a perverse set of incentives. So how have you operationalize the culture aspect beyond, let's say, making sure that you recruit the right set of people?

Shrijay  50:19

Correct. So so that's that's a very valid point, right, is you have to make other people believe that this is the right thing to do right. Now when you try to hire somebody, I think in my opinion, you should always hire for two good qualities. One is the personality and second is how much involved they are in your vision, right. And so if you think about it, if you hire from somebody who has been part of an organization where cutting corners and making money is always over pleasing clients, right, that is just very deep rooted in that and so either you have to work a lot harder in changing those values, or you just have to give up on them. You know, as hard as it may sound, for the initial team, you would always want to give up on them. And and you want to say that I might not get the exact talent that you have. But I definitely will find somebody who is better fit fitting for the role, right. And so so I think that really helped us a lot more in terms of, you know, cutting down the baggage that people carry with them, is to really find a right personality for the right role. The second thing is, it definitely needs a more communication, right. And so as I said, as an entrepreneur, you don't really have because you can't fight at all fronts, you will have your team do that for you. Right and for that you have to have a team that really believes in that and for that you really need to have a clear not just clear but a continuous communication with them. So I think an entrepreneurial or an entrepreneurs is role in the organization is to create a team that can take forward your vision and mission. It is not really, you know, to find out somebody who just does the work, but at the same time who does work better than your abilities, and it amplifies your abilities in terms of scaling. So I think that really is the key to whatever little success that we have is we have people around us who are so good and so much caring for their customers. And in turn, I just have to be caring for them. It also goes to an extent where some of the bitter conversations that I would remember is in rather in very rare cases, but I've been in on calls with customers, saying that I, I'm sorry, I took your money, but my employees cannot take your language and that is why I have to refund you your money. And it has happened precisely two times in my life, but it has happened and these are some of the instances where you're employees also figured out that they mean to you, and they mean more than just earning to you. So I think that is one of the exercises for setting up a good culture is, is where you stand by your employees so that they can stand by your clients. Right?

Krishna Jonnakadla  53:15

Yeah, take care of your employees so they can take care of your customers. That's a great way of saying it. I think you said it a few minutes ago. Awesome. So looking back, Shrijay, if you had to do this all over again, or restart? Is there something that you would do differently? You would say, you know, this, this is exactly how it would have worked out.

Shrijay  53:35

I would definitely do a few things differently to start with, I think, you know, when GST regime was already coming there and there were just news and not a lot of, you know, foundation to it, I would probably start building a product around it and raise big amount of money. That was one opportunity that I really think that we missed as an organization. Nonetheless, we are doing fairly good in the service sector as of now, but I think a product on, on along those lines would have definitely helped the company grow substantially faster. A couple of other things that I might do differently, I guess is, is probably also focus on growing a little faster given that I have a lot of, you know, I have a lot of knowledge now, which I might not have had at that point of time. So obviously, it's a corrective measure. But if I rewind back my life with the wisdom that I have today, I would definitely do certain things a little differently and probably grow a little faster. But I think that's the case with every entrepreneur.

Krishna Jonnakadla  54:37

Yeah. However, the execution engine being in a position to take advantage of a market opportunity is something of an essential thing. I think that's fundamentally what differentiates startups and then fast moving organizations versus slow moving organizations. Nithin Kamath of Zerodha talked about it in our very first I think the second episode where he said, you know, I'm always better positioned to take advantage of an opportunity. Because I'm so nimble, I'm so fast, and I'm so agile, which is not necessarily the case with larger organizations. And I find that the problem with larger organizations is that as soon as you have some success, no matter how big or small, you have something to defend, right, because you have to defend that. But it's organizations that get into some sort of a mode, where they are not only able to defend what they have, but also go out and disrupt out or even capitalize on new opportunities that ultimately end up winning or winning, I would say the marathon or even in the longer run because they're capitalizing on every new opportunity that presents itself so I think you've said it very rightly. And  anything particularly that has overall helped you in your journey that you can pick out and say, this is exactly what defines us and this is what helps.

Shrijay  56:06

I think experience is one thing that definitely helped me. And that is something that I would always part as an advice to, you know, entrepreneurs who are younger, and they were a title of a CEO and CFO, right out of their college, you know, getting their college degree. And we see that day in day out and there is nothing wrong with that there are always entrepreneurial expectations that one has from themselves and and they are made or they are, they've taken birth to do so. But at the same time, I think getting some real life experience is very vital, and you just find out so many things that work differently if you have worked under somebody, and then you work for yourself, because that just gives you a perspective of both the sides and it just helps you be a better employer, in my opinion. So so a lot of times, you know, I would say to younger and budding entrepreneurs that if you are starting a company right out of the college, or maybe in the dorm room of the college, there are many examples of successful startups like that. But at the same time, there are also plenty who have gone wrong. And one thing that you would always want to take is in terms of internship or a full time job, but some sort of practical training before, you know, start that on your own. And I think I think that that is definitely tremendously helped me at least to kind of get the right perspective. If at all, I have a right perspective, you know, in kind of gauging people, working with people to just be, you know, grounded and and keep everybody's dignity intact and stuff like that. It is so important and it is probably something that does not prevail very largely in regular Indian businesses where, you know, a son takes over father's boss chair at the age of 18, or at the age of twenty one because they have not seen the other side of it.

Krishna Jonnakadla  58:02

So very well said spending some time gaining practical experience has not necessarily for some strange reason, we've all gotten fixated with papers, its certificates that seem to confer. In fact, the paper was supposed to confer the degree certificate or whatever was supposed to confer or confirm a certain ability that that person had. And it is no longer the case. And therefore, you have to go through this practical training, regardless of what your ability was, because take I'm a chartered accountant, myself, take CA or company secretary or the cost accounting, many of these you actually study and work at the same time, so much so that by the time you're actually at your first job after qualifying, you've actually gained so much experience. So that sort of vocationalist stuff unfortunately is not present in everything, what it also does, I think is distorts outcomes. People don't know why they are studying what they are studying people don't have the ability. A lot of our engineers who have done computer science don't know how to code, which is a tragedy. I think some of that internship getting that practical experience definitely is going to help. So awesome, Shrijay, this has been a fabulous conversation full of insights before we sign off any closing comments for us and our listeners?

Shrijay  59:32

I think it's been it's been a great conversation and thanks a lot for having me on this podcast definitely means a lot. I think the closing remark that I would have and I might not be in the very best position to advise anybody but if at all, there is something that to be learned from me, I guess my remarks would be to stay taller and make sure that you start a business it is never going to be a first moment success. It requires a lot of persistence, patience and sweat and blood. And so if you sign up for a startup journey, definitely make sure that one you leverage as much help as you have around, and there are so many good people who would be able to mentor you on different aspects and stuff, but also at the same time, you know, never leave hope and fail fast. So failing fast is key over here is trying continuously validate your idea. Make sure if it does not work, you accept it, and you move on or pivot. Rightly, as you mentioned, the biggest strength of a startup is to be very pivotal, right? Titanic never sunk because because it hit the iceberg, it probably sunk because it could not steer away in the right time. And that is the burden that big businesses carry. And that's the strength or the superpower that startups carry. So never be afraid of failures. Make sure you are persistent at it. And make sure that every point of time you validate that you are adding value to something that your clients need. And I think that is that is it.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:01:04

Terrific. Shrijay, we wish you the very best and I'm certain that as legalwiz, you know, achieves another significant milestone, we will be there to talk to you to see what that vantage point looks like. On that note, thank you for being on our show. And you know, let's take it from here.

Shrijay  1:01:22

Thanks a lot, Krishna.

Nida  1:01:24 We hope you enjoyed the story. If this story made a difference to you, tell us by leaving a comment on the website or our social media channels. Help us spread the love by subscribing, liking and sharing our show. We welcome speaker suggestions and collaboration. Write to me at heythere@maharajasofscale.com