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MBA 048: KYLE TORRINGTON – Leading the Legends of the Legal World.
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Website: Legal Legends
Co-founder of Legal Legends, Africa’s first e-commerce website for legal services.
Elevator Pitch: Who is Kyle Torrington?
Kyle is the co-founder of Legal Legends, Africa’s first e-commerce website for quality legal services at affordable prices. The site features a catalogue of the available services, all corporate, commercial and startup-based.
The entrepreneurial spark came from watching The Social Network movie. The movie did however not give him an indication of the actual hard work it would require to become successful. Kyle was busy with his law articles when he looked into the idea of legal-related ventures. He developed a website called eServe that catered for attorneys who were in litigation. With the site they attempted to minimise the time it took to handle documents. For about 18 months they tried to launch the project, but were met by red tape around every corner. Eventually they had to give up on the idea. An online trademarking site was their second business and after that they founded LexNove, the predecessor of Legal Legends.
Technology in Business
At that stage Kyle didn’t have any formal education in technology, but calls himself a “tinkerer” in the field. For the first venture, they approached a software developer, but in retrospect experienced the whole process as too tedious. When he started with the second venture, the online trademarking site, Kyle decided to try his hand at website development himself. He built that platform through Wix websites. The LexNove website required a set of developers because it was quite technical in nature.
Holes in the Business Plan
Kyle and his business partner identified a few shortcomings in their original business model. Attorneys didn’t want to carry on submitting proposals that were not converting. Clients were unhappy with the 48-hour proposal period. Kyle also noticed the high bounce rate of their website. They contributed that to the fact that people were not aware of what the service would cost them. There were also issues with their visibility on Google. They identified the fifty or sixty most common services rendered and listed them as one would do on an e-commerce platform, together with their prices. At the same time they changed the name to Legal Legends as they felt it would be more memorable.
Making Mistakes and Learning from Them
The assumption that they would all be able to quit their jobs immediately was one of the biggest mistakes Kyle made. He assumed LexNove would be a success on their first attempt. He underestimated the amount of time it would take to launch a successful business.
It took Kyle about 18 months of hard work before the business turned profitable. He moved in with his parents which allowed him to concentrate solely on the business. It’s not like the movies would have you believe, entrepreneurship is a long, hard path.
The business acquired a grant fund from the Netherlands through a startup competition that they entered. South African law dictates that no other entity can hold shares in a law firm unless they are also a practising attorney. In Kyle’s opinion it’s very hard to come about venture capital in South Africa, because of the small percentage of technology consumers in the population.
Behind the Scenes
Upon waking up in the morning, Kyle goes for a cycle. At the office he usually works on the actual content of the legal work, as opposed to expanding the business. Around lunchtime he visits the gym. Afternoons and evenings his time is split between the legal work and growing the website. On the tech side of the business, Kyle’s learned enough over the last couple of years to build and code their own site. They are in discussions to outsource their social media management. At the moment Kyle’s biggest frustration lies in not having enough time to grow the business.
There’s a business similar to LexNove in Cape Town, but apart from traditional law firms, they do not have any direct competition. The fact that Legal Legends operate like an e-commerce site sets them apart. Kyle draws attention to the reluctance of lawyers to charge fixed rates.
The Ideal Customer
Legal Legends only cater for startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses. Newly founded businesses can purchase a startup package, including company or trademark registration, memorandum of incorporation or employment agreements. Slightly larger companies who have been in business for a while longer could be looking for a custom memorandum of incorporation or a custom shareholders agreement.
What is a Memorandum of Incorporation?
This document sets out the relationship between the directors of the company and the company itself. A shareholders agreement sets out the relationship between either all the shareholders or a small number of shareholders.
They are starting to outsource some of the marketing. Their predominant marketing platform to create awareness is Facebook followed by a focus on Google AdWords for “demand harvesting”. Kyle also writes a monthly column in an entrepreneur magazine on the legal hurdles faced by small businesses. They also receive many referrals by word of mouth.
The LexNove business model had them take a small percentage of each transaction. Though great in theory, it wasn’t enough in this unfunded economy. To solve this they established their own law firm that does the work through the platform. They saw the need for an annuity-type income and launched a number of monthly membership packages. These include a Skype package and SMS package. Many new companies are in need of legal services, but do not have a revenue stream at present. Because they are not a registered credit provider they opted to offer interest-free instalment transactions. The vast majority of their revenue lies in once-off services while the membership packages probably comprise of about 2%.
Tools or Systems that Help the Business
A social media posting tool called Snappa makes it easy for them to create attractive images and Kyle finds it indispensable. They use Google Analytics in conjunction with AdWords and Facebook to measure their performance and return on investment. Their website is built in WordPress. Freelancer.com enables them to save time on smaller tasks. Google Docs and Sheets are their preferred method of sharing documents and it allows them to be completely paperless.
Reset Button: If you had to start over in a different industry, what would it be and why?
Kyle would like to identify an industry where he can concentrate on growing the business vs. working in the business. He mentions that he would probably opt for something less risky as transforming industries can be a great challenge. He wants to diversify his risk portfolio. Kyle is involved in another business – affordable, quality leather bags – where he isn’t required for the day to day intricacies of the job, but mainly engaged in the expansion thereof.
Carefully consider your niche and how you’re going to differentiate your product. Kyle is adamant that it’s so important to stand out from the noise, especially if it’s an online business.
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