A lot of start-ups don’t end up getting the legal protection that they actually need because it is too costly, time consuming and complex. Fortunately, LawPath Co-founder, Damien Andreasen understands these pain points. Having no legal background, yet experienced in the process of building several start-ups, Damien is building LawPath to ensure start-ups can get on with creating a business without spending thousands of dollars on legal services. We caught up with Damien where he shared some personal insights from catching the “entrepreneur bug,” to his success at identifying with his consumers and the importance of choosing the right co-founder.
What were you doing before LawPath?
The first start-up I was involved in was Spreets, which was the first group buying company in Australia. It was based on the Groupon model, replicated from the US and scaled for the local market. Spreets was quite successful and sold 11 months after launch to Yahoo. Six months into Spreets I Co-founded another business aimed at changing the recruitment industry called “The Search Party,” it’s been going for about 4 and a half years now.
It has kind of been start-up after start-up so far. I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with businesses challenging how things are done in big industries yet to be truly disrupted by technology. This has afforded me experience and time to study a couple of different models. The Search Party is the most unique of the start-ups that I’ve been involved with because, it was essentially creating a business model that hadn’t been done anywhere else. The concept was completely started from scratch and that’s a really difficult proposition, one, many entrepreneurs know well. These difficulties are magnified when you are trying to disrupt a large and established market like recruitment. The behaviours are so ingrained and the control lies with the incumbent recruiters it creates many challenges, most notably, and understandably, the fear of revenue models being changed to their determent. My “Start-up career” thus far has been a great challenge and positive experience, I think of it as a “Real Life MBA”.
LawPath sits between the copy and paste experience I enjoyed with Spreets and the start from scratch approach, described above with The Search Party. It is similar to some offshore companies yet, we’re adapting it for the local region and making it our own. There are several different elements to the business, the lawyer directory has been around for years, where you can ask a question and connect to a lawyer for free. LawPath has some unique search functionality and a nice algorithm to improve on that existing feature, but, what we really offer is technology powered legal services. By way of example for start-ups or any business, this means we can assist you in incorporating, signing NDA’s, creating Shareholders Agreements, registering Trademarks or virtually any other legal service you might require. We deliver those legal services at a fraction of the time, cost and complexity of the traditional law firm by leveraging the efficiencies of technology and our 500+ network of Lawyers.
Do you have a legal background?
I don’t have a legal background. I am 100% focused on providing a great user experience, service and outcome that satisfies our growing customer base. Any legal service we connect a patron with is through a certified lawyer and our products are drafted or created by Australia’s top tier law firms, so standards are of the highest priority.
I can recommend book on challenger brands called Eating the Big Fish. It goes into detail on the subject of intelligent naivety, which is how new entrants into an old market can make huge changes to the way things are done because they bring a new perspective, they don’t know what’s “possible” or “impossible”. A great example they talk about is an American Airline company who managed a 15-minute turn around time, something unheard of in the industry. When asked how they did it, they simply responded with we didn’t know it couldn’t be done, so we just did it.
The LawPath team strikes a great balance between those with a legal background and those who come from technology and customer focused industries. I’ve been through it! Starting several companies, I know how expensive it can be, how complicated and time consuming it is, there’s a better way and we’re building it.
Have you always known you were an entrepreneur by design and nature, or did you see yourself differently?
In some ways yes, my family has always owned and operated their own businesses and they have been pretty successful. In that sense it’s in my blood, not many of my immediate family have ever worked in the corporate sector. I did a few years in corporate, it just wasn’t for me. Everything moved slowly, I didn’t feel there was much of an opportunity to really impact anything within the business. I just had to sit there and listen to people who had been in the industry for, forever, who didn’t want to embrace change, thinking to myself there is a better way to do this. My experience was that most of the time individuals in established companies prefer to take meetings rather than go and take action and then measure the success of the outcome. That’s what you do on a daily basis with early stage businesses and that’s what keeps me excited. Every day is different!
My traditional skill set has always been sales and building relationships, that was really where I had early success. My sales experience applied itself really well when I joined Spreets and I guess I got “the bug” from there. I think, I’ve always enjoyed doing things differently. I remember when I used to work in the city in my twenties, I saw everybody trudging off to work in their blue suits, heads hung low, looking like they’re living in the Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day. Everyone seemed lifeless and I just knew I didn’t want to be running on that hamster wheel for the rest of my life. I wanted to try and create my own outcome and hopefully have financial success along the way. For me, success is to be in a position where I’m able to help other businesses by investing and advising them.
Advice that is well known but sometimes not well heeded, “Don’t go into business with friends.” I’ve been down that road and it’s usually a disaster. I think it’s important to have Co-founders that bring different expertise to the table and work well together under pressure. Try and figure that out before you get too far down the road. When you’re starting a business, everyone gets excited about what you’re going to create. There’s the dream of building a billion dollar business, you’re doing something new, you feel like the master of your own destiny and there’s a lot of forward momentum that comes with that. The reality is, you need to be able to stand back and carefully consider the people you are taking the journey with. You have to see if your skill sets are diverse enough, if you communicate well and how you’re actually going to work together in stressful times.
For more information on LawPath and the easy to use, cost-effective legal solutions they offer visit, www.lawpath.com.au