If you’ve ever tried registering a company in Ghana or Nigeria, you’d perfectly understand the fish’s reason for staying off the land. It simply hell, literally speaking. The bureaucracy and the distressfully stringent processes involved might cause you to roll out your business ideas and sleep on them, at least it’s less torturing than having to supposedly erect a tent at the Registry. DIYlaw is an online legal service platform that is currently addressing these problems with its simple, convenient and easily accessible assistance. Established by three sophisticated and learned ladies in the department of law and technology, DIYlaw seeks to trim the hedges of Nigeria and the rest of Africa’s business red tape. Odunoluwa Lounge Co-founder of DIYlaw tells us more in an interview:
What is DIYlaw?
At DIYlaw, we help African entrepreneur’s access legal services and information through our online platform.
What do you do and who are the brains behind DIYlaw?
We are a female-founded team made up of 2 lawyers and 1 web developer. Bola Olonisakin Funkola Odeleye Odunoluwa Longe BSc. Biochemistry – University of Lagos (2001) MSc. Applied Information Technology – Towson University (2005) Project Management Certificate – Project Management Institute (2008 LLB – Lagos State University (2007) BL – Nigerian Law School (2008) MSc. Finance & Financial Law – School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (2012) LLB – Lagos State University (2005) BL – Nigerian Law School (2006) LLM – Northwestern Pritzker School of Law (2011) Certificate of Business – Kellogg School of Management (2011) Social Security Administration, USA Lockheed Martin Emagination LLC GTechDesigns George Ikoli & Okagbue Codros Capital FBN Capital The Longe Practice Solola & Akpana ARM Investment Managers FBN Capital The Longe Practice Funkola and Odun run The Longe Practice LP, an entrepreneur focused law firm, it was whilst running TLP, they realised they could use technology to make legal services easier for entrepreneurs in Africa so they teamed up with Bola a web developer with many years of experience to make DIYlaw happen.
How long has DIYlaw been in existence and how did you manage to overcome the challenges that surfaced during the early stages?
It has been 14 months since we launched and we are still facing the challenges that come with a new business like logistics. We have decided to bring some of our logistic needs in-house rather than outsource.
What inspired the formation of DIYlaw?
Two of the co-founders run an entrepreneur focused law firm and it was in the course of running the law firm they realized they could use technology to solve legal challenges for entrepreneurs so they teamed up with the third co-founder to found DIYlaw.
Tell us more about DIYlaw services?
Our services are offered through 4 product offerings as follows:
· DIY Registrations which automates business related registration processes.
· DIY Documents, which provides automated business and personal legal documents for users;
· DIY Resources – our free online, easy to understand resources platform and
· DIY Engage, our directory, classification and lead generation platform for lawyers.
How do clients get access to DIYlaw’s service and how many SME’s are signed onto your network as at now?
For now our services can only be accessed through www.diylaw.ng. We are working on offline solutions. We have almost 800 registered users.
How do you market your services?
We are yet to commence any active marketing. Our customers so far have been from word of mouth referrals or finding us through our social media handles.
How is DIYlaw financed?
Bootstrapping and customer revenue. We also had a $40,000 grant from the Hague Institute for the internationalization of Law December 2015.
What makes DIYlaw unique and distinct and how does the system work?
Our services are simple, convenient and easily accessible.
Why should I patronize your services? We provide professional and convenient services at affordable prices.
How many countries are DIYlaw actively operational in and do you have plans of extending into other market segments?
Currently active only in Nigeria but we plan to be pan-African
What is DIYlaw’s major challenge and how do you intend on managing it?
Logistics has been our biggest nightmare and it is shocking that no single company, be it the startup or corporation is able to get logistics right in this country. One would have thought, it should not be so difficult to get pickup days right and respond to customers with minimal intelligence, apparently that is not the case in Nigeria. In our short existence, we have tried five logistics company including the almighty DHL, and almost every single experience has been hair-pulling, I-am-about-to-run-mad frustrating. One was not so bad (because we had a dedicated dispatch rider we had some control over), but they increased their prices. Our customers within Lagos currently pay N4,000 for courier and those outside Lagos N6,000, we are not willing to add more just yet. So my co-founders and I have decided, we shall be getting our own bikes. No, don’t convince me to try that logistics company that started yesterday and is different from the others. “Mba” I have had enough.
What does the future hold for DIYlaw?
It is endless. Our goal is to continue to empower entrepreneurs through our services
A word of advice to young entrepreneurs especially women.
Your dreams are valid. Believe in them and keep working towards realizing them.