Founded in January 2014, by Radhakrishnan Ram Manohar, Sidharth Vijayan and Praveen Paul GetCloser provides a platform to raise funds for lawyer’s fees, mobilize community and publicize issue. It further intends to add other revenue driven legal services online and through a mobile app.
Initially it was building a ‘Linkedin for CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)’ which helped companies connect with NGO’s/ Projects that needed attention. The company was successful in implementing a project with Go Air and Kudumbashree (India’s largest women self help organization) during the Kashmir floods.
Post their Kashmir floods project, the Bangalore based company pivoted from the idea due to unclear regulatory impacts in the CSR guidelines and built a tool, the Crowd funded Judicial activism website, GetCloser.
Talking about the idea to start GetCloser, the team said, “We have created GetCloser as a tool for change. The idea was conceived to empower the millions of helpless armchair activists in the country. With an online portal we intend to reduce the gap between the people and the judiciary (and change) and create more accountability in government organizations.” As the company says, “if your issue is of public interest, the world will fund you.” Further the team added, “With an early mover advantage GetCloser is set out to establish a strong foothold in the organized online legal services sphere across the globe.”
What problems is it solving?
On talking about the kind of issues they are solving, the team said, “We bridge the gap between the citizens and government bodies by providing a platform for Judicial and community level activism. We feel there is a genuine need to convert the arm chair activists in social media into actionable responsible citizens.” It is competing with UK based www.crowdjustice.co.uk and www.spacehive.com, which have a similar model.
How does the service helps in bringing about the change?
Referring to the power of PIL’s (Public Interest Litigations), the team talks of a case wherein certain essential medications in the US saw a price hike of 4000%, whereas, Indian courts work in the interest of the people and not corporations. In a similar case, in 2014 the Supreme Court rejected Bayer’s patent on a cancer medicine. While Bayer was charging Rs 2,80,000 the court allowed a generic version to be sold at just Rs 8,800 irrespective of the patent.
It will be charging 7% of funds raised through legal crowdfunding and 5% as operational cost raised from community crowdfunding.
The startup will be launching a pilot project that will involve cleaning up of Belandur Lake in Bangalore. The company is targeting a tie up with law firms across the country, with an aim to provide its service globally. It has already tied up with 5 law firms in Kerala, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi.
On talking about how does the firm get people actively participating in polls, company founder Radhakrishnan said, “This will be part of our marketing strategy. We plan to involve a reddit based user driven system where people can upvote a case depending on the severity of the issue. This makes it truly democratic.”
What is the market size and market opportunity?
The legal tech sphere is pretty much untouched in India, we also have plans to roll out legal services like Rocket Lawyer which is making $20 Million revenue annually and has raised nearly $45 million in funding.
Present Scenario and Future Plans:
Presently it is being incubated in NSRCEL, IIM Bangalore and is looking out to raise funds. They claim to have 15,000 registered users. Once the startup closes its first round of funding, it has plans of developing an Android app followed by iOS app.
The company plans to incorporate community crowdfunding and legal crowdfunding onto its platform in coming future.
Talking about future plans Radhakrishnan said, “We have projected revenues of Rs. 30 crores ($5 Million) in FY 2016. Also a projected growth of 30% YoY. We plan to roll out legal services that make things really easy to other organizations and also individuals.” Further adding he says, “We are also giving importance to Big data and artificial intelligence since law involves logic, we feel there are ways to hack the legal system and make it 5x faster than how things are happening today.”
Closing the interesting conversation, Radhakrishna added, “We are not building a revolutionary product, we are building a revolution! Everything is really simple. A 10 year old to a 70 year old will be able to use our platform. Through our platform, we can allow the citizens to make or break laws.”