"We Didn't Have Resources to Pay for High Salaries - But Found Ways to Motivate Employees"
India's love for ancient red-tapism, pointless paper work and drenching simple application forms with truck loads of technical paperwork is as old as our love for procrastination. While everyone prays to never be involved in a situation where they would require legal assistance, possessing so is clearly empowering to individuals as well as society. However, once you enter the startup world, you have to have a solid legal backing before proceeding, even as a preventive backup.
Here's where start-ups like LegalRaasta come handy – streamlining the process to make it work for everyone painlessly. We had an exclusive chat with the CEO Himanshu Jain on his entrepreneurial journey so far. Here are some excerpts:
What's your educational background like and how did it inspire entrepreneurship?
I completed my under-graduation from CBS, Delhi University. Hailing from a business class family, entrepreneurship was always the driving force behind my endeavours. I wanted to get corporate exposure before taking the plunge. Therefore, I worked in multiple companies including Iris software, Sarveshwari technologies, CEB & PTC Technocrats. I later went on to complete my MBA from ISB, Hyderabad with a gold medal and joined McKinsey & Co. as a consultant. While helping multiple clients at McKinsey, I experienced the pain companies' face in getting over legal and government compliances. Low transparency and non-standardization were some of the issues plaguing the system.
I started LegalRaasta with the goal of leveraging technology to simplify the government and legal compliances. At LegalRaasta, we want to enable SMEs to complete legal tasks without minimum external help from CAs or Lawyers.
What was your first job, and how well did it pay?
McKinsey paid me pretty well (>50lakhs annually). It was a tough decision leaving a job with high such perks to start something of your own from scratch.
Tell us about the birth of your startup
I was constantly pained by the fact that India ranked low on the ease of doing business. At different junctures of my life, I saw my father, friends and Mckinsey clients struggling with legal and government compliances. Driven by the goal of improving the life of the Indian businessmen, I left my job with Mckinsey to start LegalRaasta with my brother Pulkit Jain. Pulkit was working as a partner in a top-notch CA firm.
We estimated the size of the legal services and compliance market to be more than Rs. 20,000+ Cr, growing at rate of 25% p.a. 97% of this is un-organized catered by local CAs, lawyers and agents. These service providers (CA, lawyers & agents) don't follow any fixed price. Neither do they have any standard process. With the use of technology, we envision reducing cost of almost 40% and reducing the turnaround time by 60%. We intend to replace the traditional CA/CS model with our cloud-based systems for registering companies, filing companies and consulting experts.
Is there a story behind the name of your startup?
Yes, we wanted a name which gives people a professional feel. At the same time, we wanted to add an "Indian' flavour to the name. We therefore choose "LegalRaasta' which somehow addressed both our needs.
Also, the name suggests that we make way or chart out a simpler "raasta' for all legal needs. People can easily guess about our working profile by just looking at our company's name.
How has funding been?
Yes we have raised $1m angel funding (in March 2016) from Praveen Khandelwal and Yatin Kumar. This funding will be used for the following:
-Expand its team & operations (set up full service offices in metropolitan cities)
-Improve the technology backend of LegalRaasta, Taxraahi and LegalRaahi
-Improve the marketing presence to pan-india
What is your office culture like?
We currently have a 40+ member strong team including members from sales, tech, marketing and operations. We have an extremely open office culture with Saturday office parties, cross-team meeting and internal suggestion systems and a 360 degree feedback mechanism. It is the positive office culture which keeps our employees in high spirit.
Who has your mentor been on your journey?
Sameer Khetarpal, Director at Amazon India has been my mentor in the journey. He has been a constant source of motivation for me. Sameer taught me to learn from my failures and have a never give-up attitude.
Tell us about the biggest challenge you've faced along your way
Hiring and training talent has been the biggest challenge since conception. We bootstrapped for the initial 4-5 months and didn't have sufficient resources to pay for high salaries. Retaining talent became a challenge for us.
However, I realized that there are different ways to motivate employees. Though I offered lower salaries, but I offered higher autonomy, flexibility in timings and a very open and fun-loving work culture.
What's the business growth scenario like?
LegalRaasta plans to make a dent through better technology and operations. We target 2-4% share of this 20,000Cr+ market over the next 3 years with an annual growth rate of 150-200% p.a.