In 2017, I co-founded my first tech company, which was a legal automation application which provided answers to users’ legal questions by going through an online questionnaire.
The idea came about when two of my friends and myself were discussing about how many aspects of law were quite rote and straightforward, and yet required someone to pay exorbitant hourly fees in order to get simple information that can be gleaned by answering a few simple questions. One of us got a traffic fine over the weekend and spent hours trawling the internet to figure out how first time offenders could get their fines rescinded.
We realised how onerous and difficult it was for the public to access this critical legal information. We were confident we could make it easier for others to access hard to find legal information by answering an online questionnaire. Over the course of 3 months, we:
- Researched the initial areas of law that would be pain points for our users to access information about and settled on parking and speeding fines, and unfair dismissal laws.
- Created a website from scratch with little to no knowledge on coding.
- Crafted the legal framework, questionnaire system and decision logic tree that would assist users with understanding their legal rights under the Victorian legal system.
We launched in March 2017 and had about a hundred visitors a month after 3 months. Our parking and speeding fine applications were being used on a daily basis. Pro bono legal firms were interested in obtaining an API from our unfair dismissal application to feed user answers into their matter management systems for easier triaging of potential cases and clients.
Additionally, we managed to get as far as the second round of the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP), Melbourne’s premier start-up accelerator program.
What Happened To IHaveRights?
The mistake that we made was to give these apps away for free. We did not have a price for our services, nor did we plan for a way to ultimately scale what we created into a profitable business.
As law students with little to no business acumen, it was no surprise we didn’t think about what came next after we created our idea. We didn’t think too far into the future and just focused on what we could develop and release in the now, without thinking about the implications of giving our apps away for free, and without a plan in place to release more apps and to scale for the future.
As more of us got part time or full time jobs, it was difficult to continue working on something that we initially did for free and in our spare time. As such, the start-up went to the back of all our priorities and remains dormant to this day.
Despite this, building IHaveRights gave me the confidence that I could discover problems, gather requirements, prioritise what needed to be done and to deliver a product that users enjoyed using, because it solved their underlying problems. It taught me a lot about product (even though I didn’t know what I was doing was related to product!) and I am proud of what my friends and I achieve with IHaveRights.