Loyasoft Limited is described by founder Rose Wanjala as a startup that tries to solve legal headaches for other startups. They are aiming to demystify legal. They have an App called Loya that can be downloaded on Play Store where one can find a lawyer as well as read on various legal topics. Logging into the App enables one to find a lawyer under any category. You can chat with them to find a solution for your legal problem as well as agree on the cost. Users also have the freedom to rate their lawyer. The company makes sure to follow up on instances where users give a low rating.
The App came into being out of a desire to solve two major problems. The first is that clients find it difficult to find lawyers and secondly, lawyers have a hard time finding clients. “In the legal circle getting clients is a hassle. Lawyers can’t advertise, the law prohibits that. How are you going to know someone is out there if they can’t advertise?” said Rose Wanjala.
The initial idea was to connect clients and lawyers. However, Rose got into the startup ecosystem and realized that most startups had no idea when it comes to legal matters and a number of them were actually heading towards a troubled future due to lack of proper legal structures within the framework of their startups. The focus for Loyasoft shifted to startups and trying to show them that there are a variety of options available to them in regards to acquiring legal help.
Most startups do not have the Ksh100, 000 it normally takes to get a lawyer to write a contract. However, they have other options available to them. According to Rose Wanjala, one such option is offering a lawyer some shares, not more than 10%, after which the lawyer will handle the startups’ legal matters until they can buy back their shares and have the lawyer come in as an outside consultant. Loyasoft Limited is working to make startups aware of this and other options that are available to them.
Loyasoft is also looking to work with Hubs. They are currently working with Pangea Accelerator at Strathmore University and are looking to work with NaiLab, iHub and also self-help groups and SMEs in the rural areas.
Apart from the App, Loyasoft Limited is working on a website that will be up and running at the end of the month. For startups, the website will have a form where they can check on their legal due diligence which is like a legal health check. There will also be free downloadable legal document templates and a tab where one can speak with a lawyer.
The biggest challenge Loyasoft has faced is the market and the fear within it. Lawyers were afraid that they were trying to steal their work while clients were skeptical about hiring a lawyer from an App. The company has worked hard to build trust on both ends. Lawyers have become receptive to the App with over 100 currently signed up. For clients, the more they hear about the App, the more they realize their need for its services.
Rose has three pieces of legal advice for startups. First is to know which entity you are operating under. Are you a limited company, a retail company or a social enterprise? Each entity has different registration as well as different obligations and costs. Secondly, secure your intellectual property. You may need a trademark, copyright, patent or design mark. Each is different and you need to be aware of which your startup needs. Finally, do not think that you can write legal documents for yourself. Startups need custom legal documents tailor made for that particular startup. Google cannot help in this case; you need to use a lawyer.
According to Rose, the biggest legal mistake a startup can make is to not have their legal house in order. Investor have been known to walk away for this reason while others take advantage and completely take over the company turning the founders into employees. Her key piece of advice therefore is that from the very beginning, startups need to get their legal house in order.