Tech Immigration Law firm of the future – 1st year summary

June 14, 2018 by Liran Jakob Rosenfeld

Tech Immigration Law firm of the future
 
As the C.E.O of PassRight Inc, my first priority is to make sure all my customers are approved and happy. Within almost 1 year of existence we have helped process 131 visa applications, over 100 visa extensions and so far everyone is approved. 2 guys, no funding and we’ve sold legal services in the value of $800K in just 11 months. Last month we grew to be a team of 8.
 

What is PassRight?

PassRight is the first nationwide brand for immigration law services – bringing trust, transparency, accessibility, and customer-centricity to an archaic, fear-driven and fragmented industry. This company was formed after “We”, the founders, felt the pain of immigration and inefficiency of traditional law firms. Today we develop AI technologies to empower both consumers and attorneys to make the immigration application process easier, faster and safer.

Instead of the long and expensive onboarding, traditional law firms offer, PassRight allows consumers to take control of their application and navigate through a seamless & scalable interface

Why did I do it?

After experiencing the hardships of immigration on my own skin as a new entrepreneur coming to the U.S., I became very passionate about immigration law. I took an internship at an immigration law firm. I witnessed how bad they were managing what I thought was one of the top immigration law firms in the U.S. I realized how many bad immigration attorneys are out there and how much suffering immigrants have to go through when they need to navigate the complex  U.S Immigration system. Immigration is scary, expensive and the rules are constantly changing.

The Initial stage

We’ve built an mvp marketplace on WordPress and started promoting it. All we did at first was to post on facebook groups of expats and target startup founders on Linkedin.

That got us some traction, but we’ve realized we needed to be on the news and get vetted. Therefore I started writing and asking for favors from anyone that was able to help. My stories were published in Israel, Japan, Italy, Poland and in the U.S.

I became the immigration writer for GeekTime, the biggest tech blog in Israel, and later at the StartupGrind blog on Medium. Luckily, I was mentioned twice at Forbes, on Tech.co and on Huffington Post. As of today, I haven’t paid for PR. There is more PR on our press page.

The lesson I learned from building a marketplace

During the first 7 months, I was operating a marketplace tailored for customers looking for immigration attorneys.

I started with the first law firm (while I was working on it) and later joined 19 attorneys from around the U.S.

Over 200 immigration attorneys signed up but it was really hard to onboard them. Within 7 months we hit $500K in revenues. I worked 16 hours a day hustling every single human cell of my own body and mind.

Sales are great but can I scale up?

Word of mouth was not working as I had expected. We were losing customer loyalty to the attorneys we were working with. Because once our customers developed a deep relationship with the attorneys, we would not be leading the relationships anymore. More over, my PassRight attorneys were great but they were not always selling that great. I was not in control of how fast they responded to our customers and how well our customers were being served. I was also making a platform fee of just 15% of the GSV. That left little money for me to grow and re-invest in ads, SEO, etc.

Earlier this year our initial value proposition was this:

  • Money back guarantee

  • Free initial consultation

  • Fixed prices

  • Flexible payment plan

By giving these perks to our customers, we were sure we were solving a huge problem.

But we were wrong.

These perks were what we needed when we started, but they were not what the market needed. That value proposition was not good enough for us to scale up. I felt lost and I realized we needed to make a change.

We were not entirely legal

We needed funding but we were told by some investors that we couldn’t be funded because we are not entirely legal. You see, taking a % commission from attorneys while I’m not an attorney was against the rules of ethics. This presented us with a huge problem. We realized we needed help.

I decided to search for an accelerator program and managed to get accepted to Mucker Lab in Santa Monica. The amazing help I got from Mucker is hard to explain. I decided to take the advice of my investors.

This is what we decided to do:

  • Stop the marketplace – be the law firm. Make 100% margin & scale later with technology.

  • Complete rebrand – change our name, messaging & strategy.

  • Build a scalable platform with a technological advantage.

  • Design a company textbook.

Will Hsu, the founder of Mucker Capital, told me: “Liran you gotta think of your startup as the Matrix and your immigration attorneys as its batteries. Plug them in and empower them and your clients. Once you come up with a way to do that – You will scale up”.

Tech is the only solution

We went for it. My CTO, Gal Talmor, relocated from Israel, we’ve got him his O-1 Visa, and we’ve created a software that empowers attorneys and immigrants. The first mvp we’ve built is an automated tool for people to extend their B-1 / B-2 visa. After we building it, we realized again how people are still afraid to use DIY Immigration without the supervision and help of an immigration attorney.

We came to these conclusions

  • The world is not ready for a stand alone Turbo Tax immigration solution. Attorneys must be part of the process.

  • The Ubernization of legal services and legal marketplaces are just starting.

  • Traditional immigration law firms are a thing of the past. There are 50K Immigration attorneys in the U.S alone and we are going to empower them with advanced technological tools.

  • Our new software will allow both individuals and companies to fast track their immigration.

  • Our smart questionnaires already replace the first conversations between attorneys and clients and by creating a new environment where both attorneys and clients can work together, we see ourselves as pioneers in the legal tech space. We can finally scale up.

Technology

We use cutting-edge web technologies like Angular 2, React and Node.js over Amazon’s AWS, and develop AI technologies for both consumers and attorneys to make the immigration application process easier, faster and safer by automatically generating documents, validating inputs and uploads and suggesting improvements.

Business Model: We copied Justin Kahn’s Hybrid Model

When a legal tech company founders, are not all attorneys, there is only one way to do this legally. By working with 2 entities:

  • Our Delaware C-Corp is building the tech and scales up.

  • Our immigration law firm works hand in hand with the C-Corp and licenses our technology.

By doing it this way, we are allowed to give legal advice, hire attorneys and operate legally while developing more tech to improve our processes and services.

Timeline

01/17 – Launched MVP Immigration attorney marketplace.

02/17 – 07/17:  Got initial traction $500K (GSV).

03/17 – Registered the company PassRight Inc.

08/17 – During August we visited home and found out we got accepted to Mucker Capital.

09/17 – Raised a pre seed and decided to make the 3 changes explained earlier.

10/17 – We became the tech immigration law firm. We hired our own in-house attorneys and started building our own software.

11/17 – Started operating the new business model and developing our new platform.

12/17 – Started rebranding process.

01/18 – We plan to kickoff our website.

02/18 – Seed round opens.

This has been an exciting year. I’ll be in touch closer to our seed funding earlier next year and I hope to get your support.