Tell us about yourself
Brett (second to left): Goodlawyer is an online marketplace for legal services. We make it easy for clients and lawyers to connect. I’m Brett, the CEO of Goodlawyer, lawyer by trade and entrepreneur at heart. I started the company with Steven Bodi my co-founder.
Steven (on right): My name is Steve, I’m one of the co-founders. [Brett and I] worked together at a law firm called BLG, Canada’s largest law firm. I was a former corporate securities lawyer that worked with startups. One guy missing from the table is Paul Ritchie, who came on board in December with almost a decade of sales experience.
Parker (on left) : My name is Parker, I am the lead software developer working on the project. I’ve been a software developer for over 5 years, working on startups and projects like this.
Tom (second to right): I am the lead product designer for Goodlawyer, I am a mechanical engineer by trade. I was unsatisfied with it so I went back to school and I’m one year out from completing a graphic design degree.
How many people does your team consists of?
When did you start?
B: When I was in law school I was really struck by the access to justice issues that were existing for your average person and at the same time, my fellow law students were concerned about how there were already too many lawyers and how the legal job market was too competitive. This dichotomy sparked the idea that would eventually become Goodlawyer.
S: As part of that problem in Ontario, where I went to law school, there was a surplus of law school graduates who weren't able to obtain the traditional path of becoming a qualified lawyer. Yet there were people across the country that couldn't access basic legal services. This really illustrated the mismatch in the market that we set out to solve.
What you did prior to this venture
S: I was with Brett at BLG. I was in the securities and M&A corporate space. During my time at BLG, I worked with companies from business inception and incorporation, to large M&A’s, public offerings, and venture capital deals in all industries.
B: I practiced banking and commercial real estate at BLG. I also had the opportunity to work inside one of our financial services clients in Vancouver for nearly a year, which provided a tremendous amount of insight into how clients perceive the value of legal services.
P: I worked at Matrix Energy Technologies for 3 years and decided to leave to pursue personal projects, where I worked at the climbing gym developing an app to help coaches and athletes connect.
T: I did engineering work for a few years after graduating UofC with a Bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. I worked in Fort Mac for 8 months doing materials management for a client upgrade followed by more engineering work in Calgary. Ultimately, I realized that engineering wasn’t something I want to do in the future so I went back to school for graphic design. The past few years I have just been focusing on school.
What problem does your business solve?
B: For clients, it provides convenient, affordable and transparent legal services. For lawyers, it provides a new source of business. By streamlining certain fundamentals of running a law business, such as finding clients and getting paid, we enable lawyers to provide more affordable legal fees for clients, while still benefiting from a completely new source of revenue.
S: We are building a managed marketplace that helps lawyers generate new leads and strip down costs of operating their business.
How do you solve this problem?
B: We solve it with technology. You provide an online platform that allows the buyer and seller to connect easily and quickly. This dramatically reduces the overhead for services provided by Goodlawyer, as compared to the current service delivery model.
S: Managed marketplaces are popping up all over the place: Amazon, Airbnb, Uber, etc. Consumers are using these to do everything now. Buying goods, to how they travel and so on. Managed marketplaces for professional services are coming.
When did you notice a gap in the market?
B: I noticed these inefficiencies relatively early in law school. Certainly when I started working in 2014. The idea for Goodlawyer first came to us in 2016.
What is your company culture?
T: Friendly. We’ve all known each other for years. We are all buddies. We really attack this together. We do a lot of team work on everything and try to be collaborative as much as possible
S: User-centric. We focus more on providing the service for our customers.
B: Culturally speaking, we’ve got a driven group of friends. One of our unfair advantages is definitely friendship and that's what is really driving this forwards.
What draws people to you?
S: We are learning what draws people to us. We are learning that we are solving their access problem in a convenient way.
T: These guys are embodiments of what they do. They are super transparent with the team always. I feel super included and we are all a collaborative unit. We are all in it together and these guys are hard workers and good friends.
B: We take our business very seriously. We are driven, focused, and relentless and this continues to attract great people to join our team. I couldn’t have dreamt up a better core group of individuals to embark on this ambitious mission with.
S: Another thing that I’ve heard from one of our investors is about us being lawyers; we have a certain level of sophistication. From an investor or advisor perspective, they know that we have seen this from the outside.
Four words to describe the company with?
T: Approachable. People’s gut reactions about lawyers are not that positive. We are definitely trying to make legal service more approachable.
B: Curious. Everyone on the team likes learning, which is another big asset that we have. We understand that this is a process! I’m hopeful that this attitude will drive a lot of our success.
S: If we had to adapt, it would be because we are being customer-focused and user-centric.
P: Friendly. I like that word.
Why did you choose The Accelerator?
S: We got connected to The Accelerator by our friend in the ecosystem from RBC. She referred us to it and thought it would be good with the stage we were at. I had an initial call with Thomas and really liked how he described The Accelerator. We were both concerned about an accelerator being super time consuming, but we liked The Accelerator’s approach.
B: It was good to be doing something rather than nothing.
What has your experience with the The Accelerator been like?
B: The thing I would say I liked the most about it is the community of startups we are now getting to know. It is really nice to connect with people on a semi-regular basis who are experiencing the same challenges as us. I was also a big fan of BaseCamp with Randy Thompson of Valhalla; I really enjoyed that day.
S: It has been very helpful with learning and coaching around pitching. A big focus of the program up until this point has been about pitching and I have found that really valuable. The mentorship and connections has been very valuable as well.
What has been your biggest lesson you learned while in the program?
S: I would say, how to pitch. There seems to be an art to it and learning that art has been the biggest lesson.
What has been a major accomplishment for you this year?
T: We are all full time now.
B: We are starting to get traction. We're on-boarding our first lawyers and getting our first customers.
What is next for you?
S: Lots of customer discovery, market validation and continuing to on-board good lawyers. Gaining conventional wisdom from leading places like Harvard Business Review and even just talking to people who have done it. We also understand the importance of nailing down a specific segment. In other words, we are refining our market fit as we search for our “books”.