Earlier in mid 2012, we wrote about EasyLaw, New Delhi based online legal and business services company. Founded by Ridhish Talwar and Dhruv Jain, EasyLaw.in has changed it’s model from Services Platform to Marketplace. We talk in detail with Ridhish to understand more on the motive behind the model change of EasyLaw.in, challenges and way forward.
Converting EasyLaw.in into Marketplace
With the new model, experts (not affiliated with EasyLaw.in) can register themselves and build their profiles to showcase their skills/specializations to clients.
“We decided to change the model as we were able to only cater to very few (about 20%) of the queries that we were receiving. This was due to the fact that end to end legal services very often require physical presence in the same city/district as the client. Further, the prevalent regulation prohibited us from providing litigation related services to our clients. Another major reason was that due to involvement of government departments in almost all legal services that we were providing, it was proving to be very difficult to standardize the services and assure clients of timely results.”, says Ridhish on the reason for remodeling.
How does EasyLaw Marketplace work?
The team’s experience with EasyLaw.in 1.0 has led them to tweak the traditional marketplace model by incorporating location detection and matching between Experts and Clients. EasyLaw.in aims to connect clients with specialist professionals near them by using their unique algorithms that detect users/clients location and by notifying experts based on distance and matching skill sets once the client posts their requirement.
Additionally, experts build their profile and skills by contributing content (posting answers, writing articles, uploading documents) and winning feedback enabled projects. This enables clients to more comprehensively judge the suitability of experts to their particular needs while ensuring the practicality of engagement.
The startup’s current focus is not on revenue generation, but on getting a good database of active experts registered, such that any client that places their question/project on EasyLaw.in receives satisfactory replies/quotations. The only revenue generating feature (currently) on their platform are feedback enabled projects.
The startup charges Rs. 99/- to a client wishing to post a feedback enabled project. The reason the startup charges for feedback enabled projects is that the RBI prohibits a PayPal type of escrow service for INR settlements. Due to this the startup is forced to let clients and experts, pay and receive payments off-platform.
“Now the problem we face is that an expert who received a negative review could simply post new projects from a dummy account and leave shining reviews for themselves, essentially gaming the system. To deter such activity, we decided to charge for feedback enabled projects. We monitor projects to spot such undesirable activity and will continue to tweak the system as we get more data.”, says Ridhish.
Challenges, Competition and Future Plans
Quoting the challenges, Ridhish tells us that few experts have asked about the limited client side activity that is currently happening on the platform. . Experts are explained that the startup can only begin marketing the platform to Clients once there is a critical mass of registered Experts who have built their profiles. “The fact that many Experts have begun contributing content even with the limited Client activity further supports the fact that Experts see the value of the platform”, says Ridhish.
Q&A sites, forums and other platforms available today provide information and are indirect competitors for EasyLaw Marketplace, but one often needs to find someone in their area, to help execute the work and especially true for legal services.
The team plans to hasten the pace of development of the platform, add more features, hire a sales team to focus on expert registration and engagement, hire a PR company and start advertising to grow quickly, when they receive funding.
Tips for Entrepreneurs
Here are some tips from the EasyLaw team Ridhish and Dhruv for budding entrepreneurs –
• To carefully select the programming language and to use open source CMS/framework (WordPress, Drupal, Code Igniter etc.) to build their solutions and then select a reputable IT company that specializes in that.
• Concentrate on scalability and sustainability and not short term revenue generation.
• Make sure you have the optimum business structure for your needs and technically sound legal agreements.
TTP’s take on EasyLaw.in
EasyLaw.in’s move from services to Marketplace is a smart move, and by incorporating location based check for matching experts and users, they have done due diligence from their end that the matches can be taken forward. As Ridhish tell us, the chicken and egg problem with marketplaces will exists for them, until they can crack enough expert signups to mass market to the clients. We suggest the team to participate in forums where lot of budding entrepreneurs are asking legal questions to spread awareness about their marketplace. TTP wishes EasyLaw team the very best!