This week, join us with Rachel, founder of Founders Doc (@foundersdoc). Founders Doc is a legal-tech company that aims to serve early stage companies and start ups in South-east Asia, starting from Singapore. Through Founders Doc, Rachel hopes to make legal resources more accessible to early stage companies and start ups through quick guides, customised templates and explanatory videos!
1. Tell us more about the idea and inspiration behind Founders Doc.
A friend of mine was raising a significant amount of seed money. We looked around for suitable lawyers, including the firm that I worked for then, and he could not find someone that he liked in Singapore. That got me thinking about whether there was a gap in the market and whether the legal community could provide better support for start ups and early stage companies in Singapore. Many years later, Founders Doc was born with the vision of supporting early stage companies in South-east Asia.
2. What are the biggest legal mistakes that you have seen founders make starting out, especially first time founders, that they should take note of?
Making mistakes is part of the startup process – but not realising that a mistake has been made is probably the problem. There are perhaps two types of mistakes I’d think founders want to take note of: (i) investing too much money and time even before you’ve verified a demand for a service or product (this is more an operational mistake); and (ii) getting into a ‘marriage’ with incompatible founders / investors and not being able to get out of it easily. Like the golden age scientist, as a startup, you’re constantly testing a hypothesis – so test it cheap, fast and objectively + in a controlled environment (ie. risk management).
3. What type of assistance does Founders Doc provide to startups, and why do they choose Founders Doc?
Founders Doc provides startups with legal assistance and risk management tools. Our clients choose Founders Doc because we think like a startup ie. we cut the fluff and go straight to the point. As a startup ourselves, we are constantly trying to refine the process so that we can serve our clients better.
4. Despite having a full time job as a M&A lawyer, what was the motivation to embark on this venture?
Overtime, more and more founders started approaching me organically and asking if I could assist them with their startup work. The opportunity cost of turning them down was quite high – since that meant that I could be potentially turning down the next unicorn! I took a bet and decided to support early stage companies full time.
5. What were the biggest challenges you faced when starting out and how did you overcome those challenges?
Most lawyers typically start their own practice with a book of clients inherited from their previous practice. I started out with zero clients and took a bet on the market. So far, the bet seems to be going OK.
6. Given your busy schedule, what's a typical work day like for you, juggling between full-time work and Founders Doc?
Founders Doc is my full time work. The Corporate Practice at Eugene Thuraisingam LLP and Founders Doc are complementary practices. As with most founders, I work 24/7 (almost).
7. Where do you see Founders Doc landing in the near future?
Founders Doc should become a unicorn – either in my mind or in the market. Realistically, we want to do 3 things: (1) we want to be in every South-east Asian market; (2) we want to improve our internal processes to expedite document production; and (3) we want to re-imagine how lawyers communicate to clients.
8. A piece of advice will you have to your peers who are looking to start their own ventures.
Don’t take no for an answer.
Rachel is a lawyer who graduated from King’s College, London in 2013. She has worked in international law firms such as White & Case and Hogan Lovells Lee & Lee, as well as Allen & Gledhill and WongPartnership – throughout, her specialty has been corporate M&A and private equity work.