Today I’m talking with Magnus Stein, CEO at Agreement24 – a startup focused on providing affordable and solid legal contracts to private customers and small businesses. For these types of customers, legal work can be both costly and intimidating. In addition, for many – the contracts you generally need are pretty basic – employment, partnership – so there’s no need for custom contracts there. This is where Agreement24 comes in, a marketplace for users to purchase legal documents and contracts in a simple and cost-effective way.
Hi Magnus, tell me about yourself and how you you got the idea to start Agreement24?
First of all, I’m not a lawyer. My background is actually in business development in the banking sector.
Around 10 years ago, everything suddenly became clear to me. I was working with making financial services more accessible and, I studied how old business ideas could be transformed. That’s when it hit me – of course legal consulting should be automated and accessible to the public!
People and small companies has a tendency not to use legal services since there are so may barriers; “What do I need?”, Who do I go to?”, “How expensive will it be?”, “Will it be correct? and “Why must it take so long?”
I like to think that disrupting the legal system is a little bit what it must have been like when the calculator was invented. Suddenly, “the process” was available to anyone, at the same price and anywhere in the world. When you disrupt a market like this – the opportunities are endless.
What exactly is the product and what makes it attractive to your customers?
We provide tailor-made legal help and documents easy and affordable to private customers and SME’s. We are like an online bank/broker, except that we are selling legal services. We can help you with NDA’s, Shareholder Agreements, Wills – basically any sort of legal document you can imagine.You can do it yourself or with one of our lawyers (phone) to a fixed price, quality assured any time with instant delivery.
Do you, or have you ran into problems with incumbents, given that you’re potentially stealing a lot of business. In addition, is it hard to change such a conservative industry?
The customer needs legal help and today the barriers to entry are too high. Our customers love us, 95% would recommend us. Still we need to be better in everything we do, since many are sceptical about this new way of buying legal services.
It’s better, easier and cheaper for the customer so they will drive the change, in the end. You’re right though, the industry is slow-moving, so it’s a long process. The legal industry in Europe has remained unchanged for years, because it’s such “big business”.
Things will change though. The US market drives the change, and LegalZoom announced today that they raised additional USD 200M to enter the European market – so things are happening.
What are your biggest challenges and main competitors?
Our biggest challenges are of course being the first out there to change a traditional market and that people generally do not know what they need, until you’re offering it.
When people think of legal help and documents, they think lawyer in an office or a template at Google. We are something new, something better for all, but if you never heard about it – would you trust it? We have made sure that we have a great user experience and quality in everything we do. It’s important for us to communicate our partners, our board and strong financing. We need to get the customer to rely on us since we sell trust.
In Germany a competitor launched the same month as we did and they are sitting close to our office in Berlin. There are two major US competitors that are entering Europe now – LegalZoom and RocketLawyer.