We caught up with Manik Gupta, the student founder of start-up.
1. How, when and why did Lawin1 start?
Me and my then roommate Pradeep started Lawin1 back in August 2014. I realized that there was a lot of time between two semester exams (that was when we were actually busy) and I did not want to while my time away doing nothing.
And the Startup Wave was just picking up then with Flipkart raising a dragon round of $1 Bn. So we decided to risk it while we still could, in college.
We chalked out a basic plan with 30 services at the start of August but we could not decide on a name for a couple of days since most of the domain names were already registered.
Then suddenly Pradeep spotted a Haldiram’s All in 1 Namkeen packet on the floor of our hostel and reversed the first word “Law in 1”. We booked the domain almost instantly and got started.
2. What were the early days like? Biggest challenges and how you overcame them?
At the very outset we knew absolutely no coding. We just bought a rudimentary Website building software and built our first platform on that. Our first challenges were putting across our Sales Pitch on the phone.
We did not know a lot about marketing and presentation and we had to learn on the job. Luckily we launched on 16th September and got our first client billed on the 24th, from Bangalore.
3. How is it different from other online legal services providers?
Initially when we started out, we were pretty similar to the others to be honest. But over time as we engaged with our customers and then our service providers we realized that there was a huge difference in the experience offered by traditional service providers and users who wanted On-Demand assistance.
So we tailored our services accordingly, striking up affiliations and building an Offline network that was really robust and handled everything from the pick up of signed documents to the last mile delivery. That is what sets us apart I think.
4. Biggest successes of lawin1 till now?
The biggest success I think is how we slowly branched into PE Deals and Transaction Advisory. We had met up a lot of people at Startup Conferences and many who were referred to us by happy clients.
I would like to believe we did good work for them and when they were raising funds from PE Investors, they asked us to come back and structure those deals for them. Normally this is the bastion of Law Firms, but I read up a lot, Googled and figured out how I could get it done myself.
We closed a few deals, and one where the investment size was $1.5 Million (9.8 Crores) was the highlight. We advised on another business restructuring between warring founders of a decently famous online T shirt brand where the valuations touched almost $4 Million.
All this came in because we met and networked with some people and presented our capabilities to them and they trusted us to get the work done.
5. Biggest failures?
There were many. One of the first was when we bungled up a Company Incorporation for a client early on in our business and he posted a nasty review on Facebook. We actually could not get new clients for 10 days or so.
That ranks high up in all of the things that hit our morale. There were others too including how we failed to close an investment from an A-List VC fund, lost our website to a fault on the Server providers part etc.
6. How did you get in touch with Karvin?
Karvin has an extensive offline practice around New Delhi and they have a similar service under the name Myeca.
We were in touch for sometime and then started communicating about how we could make a collaboration work.
7. How was the whole process of pitching the deal, negotiation, valuation etc.?
Unlike a typical Movie Style deal, we had no backroom maneuvers, no long discussions. We laid our expectations on the table and Karvin agreed pursuant to some conditions we had to agree to.
8. What’s the future of lawin1? And yours?
Lawin1 would continue under Mr. Kapil Dudeja’s leadership with Karvin as a parent company. I have still not decided what to do next. I am advising a couple of startups associated with an Angel Fund.
I plan to turn to writing to let others know what I have learnt through the last 20 months. I still have a year to go at college and I like law, I might end up working somewhere to gain a more richer experience.
9. Biggie: How much money goes into your pocket?
I cannot delve into the details because of my commitments. But it was a cash and stock transaction of significant proportions and me and my cofounder are sharing the proceeds equally after the other considerations for ESOPS are met.
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