Startup of the Day – Legal River

The BizSpark startup of the day is Legal River, based in the US. You will find below an interview with Ben Hatten, Co-founder of Legal River. All the best to them and congrats for being the startup of the day!


Interview with Ben Hatten, Co-founder of Legal River

Tell us who you are and your role in the company:

I’m a co-founder (Zach Girod is other founder). My focus is primarily on the marketing and business development, while Zach focuses on the technology and operations.

What did you do before creating your company?

I worked in both marketing and strategy roles at Gap Inc and then worked for a venture back start up doing the same thing (Pacific Pathway). Zach was a Solutions Architect for Fortigent, a wealth management solutions provider. While there Zach helped design and build their proprietary reconciliation and reporting software.

How do you feel being the most promising ‘Startup of the Day’ per Microsoft BizSpark?

We’re very excited. We follow the start up of the day, and we’re excited to be part of the group.

What is your company’s mission?

We want to empower small businesses and start ups by allowing them to enjoy the same benefits that large companies do. Lawyers can be one of the most expensive and important things for a start up; we want to help make sure that start ups have the ability to find the right one. By posting their legal need on Legal River, small businesses have lawyers compete for them. It the same way general counsels at large companies put out RFPs and require the big firms to compete for their business; we want to give start ups that same power.

How did you get the idea for your company?

While working at Pacific Pathway, I was asked to help find a patent attorney for a new product we were working on. Finding the lawyer with the technical experience we needed took over two months and I realized there wasn’t an efficient way for business and attorneys to connect. At business school, Zach and I started working on developing Legal River from that experience.

Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?

We took part in Launch Box Digital this past summer and received our first outside funding from them. Prior to that we were bootstrapped. Right now we are the midst of closing a seed round from friends and family that will give us a nice runway. We are big believers in the lean startup and are not looking for venture financing right now.

How many employees do you have? How many developers?

There are two of us, myself and Zach Girod. With that, Zach is doing the developing. We are believers in the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) strategy made popular by Eric Ries. This strategy lets out test out new features and ideas quickly without having a large development team.

Are you hiring? If yes, what are you hiring and where?

Right now we are not actively looking to make any hires. However we are always happy to talk with talented people.

Which platform are you building on? Why?

We are a .Net front end and MSSSQL back end. Zach’s prior experience was with the Microsoft technologies and with BizSpark we knew we could get the site up quickly. We wanted to use a proven technology and had all three S’s (Security, Stable and Scalable). Microsoft’s technologies were a good fit for us.

Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/internet area?

I think there is a lot of opportunity in trying to serve the main street entrepreneurs and the mom and pop shops. They are willing to pay for services that help drive more revenue or cut cost and there are a lot of unmet needs out there. I believe a lot of products are still being designed with the early adopters in mind rather than the early majority.

What do you think about the BizSpark Program?

The BizSpark program has been great for us. It is really allowed for us to save tremendously on start up costs as well as play with new technologies early. It is a great resource for all start ups.

Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?

Just jump in. Get a minable viable product up and start iterating. Don’t try and guess what people want, get up a product and listen to your customer. Our customers on the lawyer side have been instrumental in helping us decide which features are most important to them, and have help drive the development cycle.

Who’s your role model?

I’m a big fan of Marc Andreeseen. Has had so many hits both as entrepreneur and as investor, he just really has a great sense of opportunities and the ability to take advantage of them.

What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview?

Apply to the venture accelerators, Launch Box, Tech Stars, DreamIt, or Y-combinator. Getting access to those mentors through Launch Box was instrumental for Legal River, and was one of the most fun summers I have ever had.

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