Startup snapshot: Boutique law firm taking care of businesses’ legal matters

Belinda Mapongwana

South Africa-based Mapongwana Attorneys is a boutique law firm started by Belinda Mapongwana with savings from bonuses earned at her previous job. Mapongwana answers our questions.

1. Give us your elevator pitch.

Mapongwana Attorneys Incorporated is a black woman-owned boutique law firm based in Sandton. We provide practical and cost effective legal solutions to businesses experiencing corporate commercial law and commercial litigation challenges. Our expertise makes us a trusted legal partner for our clients.

2. How did you finance your startup?

I used savings from bonuses earned from a previous job.

3. If you were given US$1m to invest in your company now, where would it go?

It would go into business infrastructure, particularly IT and human capital.

4. What risks does your business face?

  • Cyberisk – the risk relating to security of information and technology. There may also be the risk of viruses that could compromise client information.
  • Professional negligence – human beings can make mistakes which could be costly to the firm.
  • Economic climate – an economic downturn can impact profitability of the firm, negatively impacting relationships with employees and suppliers.
  • Human capital – not securing the right skills at the right level or the right organisational fit, particularly for lateral hires.

5. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?

The best have been word of mouth, client referrals, website visitors, social media and of course, radio.

6. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.

I landed a big corporate client and successfully settled the matter. This was a great achievement for the firm and a good way to make a first impression with the client.

7. Tell us about your biggest mistake, and what you’ve learnt from it.

I once received an urgent instruction from a client and in the haste to meet the deadline, omitted to sign an engagement letter, everything was verbal. I have learnt to follow the firm’s internal processes no matter how urgent the matter is.