The Pitch: The ideas come easy. Now try selling them.

By Yves Faguy January 30, 201830 January 2018

The Pitch: The ideas come easy. Now try selling them.

 

You have a great business idea for the legal market?  But you aren’t sure it’ll fly. Well, there's a pitching competition for that.  Ahead of the February 23 deadline for the CBA's legal tech startup competition, the Pitch, CBA National caught up with the event’s co-host Martine Boucher, president and founder of Simplex Legal.  We asked Martine about the value of testing business ideas on those who will ultimately help entrepreneurs shape their products.

CBA National: Why would you encourage a starting entrepreneur to get involved in The Pitch?

Martine Boucher: Well, it’s an exciting time right now in the legal industry. There are a lot of opportunities, a lot of ideas out there. And this is a chance for young start-ups to really test their ideas out in front of a panel of experts that are either investors, partners, or that has done something similar. For an entrepreneur, it’s so valuable to have feedback, having the chance to talk to potential users, seeing their reactions, vetting your idea and getting a real critical look. And getting ready for that experience, I think, is worth a lot to an entrepreneur.

N: You have co-founded a non-traditional legal business. What has your experience been?

MB: Well the hard part is getting the word out.  Whatever it is that you’re offering, if it is new, it will take a lot of time and effort to tell your story.  And the broader your market is, the more challenging it is to generate awareness. And, if you’re in the legal industry, it’s a very conservative industry that likes precedent and tends to stick to what is tried and tested. So when you’re selling something innovative, you have to work harder at making it known.

N: Other than putting in the hours, how do you go about communicating innovation in this industry?

MB: Talking to the users of your services or your product is key. You can’t just dream something up in the office and not talk to real people and see if it really solves the issues that they are facing. You need to engage with them. In our case, we identified a number of beta clients that were willing to work with us in the early days, knowing that things might not be perfect at first. They knew that the services we were packaging might not be in their final form, but we were grateful that they were willing to work with us, to help us do things differently and test our innovations so that we could be more efficient. That is really the secret ingredient in the sauce. You need to go back and forth all of the time, and you’ll probably reinvent your business a million times before you end up with a product or a service that your clients really like.

N: What other advice would you give to a start-up legal entrepreneur?

MB: Fail early. Not catastrophically. But if you have an idea, you just need to run with it. Run quickly, and then see what works and what doesn’t work. And what doesn’t work, you just drop it, and you go on to the next idea. There’s always going to be one. As lawyers, we’re so afraid with what is perceived as a failure. But there is such a great opportunity today, so just go for it. Try it on the small scale, see what works and what doesn’t work, and move on. It’s the only way. It’s a very iterative process, but if you follow that and you fall in love with that process, I really think that’s when good ideas become a real business.

The Pitch, hosted by the CBA, Law Made and LexisNexis, will cap off the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association National Conference and In-House Counsel World Summit on May 1, 2018 in Toronto.

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