Start-up: LexNove, South Africa
LexNove is an online platform which allows people to find legal representation from a panel of hand-picked lawyers.
Users can submit their legal problems via the website, and watch as their submission is met with proposals from the panel. With this information they can choose a lawyer they wish to work with – based on factors such as cost, where they are situated, their expertise, and the satisfaction ratings of previous clients. Once a lawyer has been selected, the website provides users with a virtual boardroom to communicate with them.
Andrew Taylor and Kyle Torrington, with legal expertise of their own, founded LexNove in November last year. The two gave How we made it in Africa their business’ lowdown, and a lesson or two they learnt from their mistakes.
1. Give us your elevator pitch?
LexNove is an online platform which aims to revolutionise the legal industry in South Africa by connecting users to pre-vetted high quality service providers who bid, at free market fixed prices to do the users’ corporate and commercial legal work on a secure, intuitive platform.
2. How did you finance your start-up?
Self-funded for the most part, but we have kept it extremely lean by surviving on Frisco and baked beans! We have also had some late stage seed capital investment.
3. If you were given US$1m to invest in your company now, where would it go?
Marketing, expansion funding and more marketing.
4. What risks does your business face?
It’s a revolutionary concept which seeks to disrupt a very established industry – with this comes the need for education and the willingness and dedication required to overcome the resistance to change, which some users and service providers may experience before trusting us with our services.
5. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?
Word of mouth referrals and person-to-person interactions.
6. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.
The start-up roller coaster has been full of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Our first organically sourced user, and the launch of the platform after months of development and angst, were probably right up there.
7. What has been the biggest mistake you have made in your start-up, and what have you learnt from it?
Believing we could do it alone. We initially tried to hack together our platform using our own rudimentary programming skills, believing we would be able to get the platform up on our own. We very quickly learnt we were out of our depth. This taught us the huge importance of forming strategic partnerships, allowing us to leverage our partner’s strengths in tandem with our own. It also taught us the value of the entrepreneurial community and its willingness to pay it forward – a value we have tried to instil in ourselves and our corporate culture.