Shake is an app that lets you create, sign and send legally binding agreements in seconds – and what NYC entrepreneur wouldn’t mind having a little legal help literally in his or her back pocket? CEO and Co-founder Abe Geiger tells us a bit more about the product, and with investors/board members like RRE‘s Stuart Ellman, BuzzFeed president Jon Steinberg and Spotify’s Jared Grusd – done deal!
Tell us about the product.
Shake is a mobile-first legal startup that gives freelancers, small businesses and consumers the ability to create, sign and send their own legal agreements directly from their smartphones. Users can generate their own simple contracts using our templates, which have been drafted by licensed attorneys and are completely legally effective. Our goal is to get consumers to stop relying solely on handshakes or verbal agreements when completing business transactions. Legal contracts can be created and signed with Shake in just a matter of minutes. There’s no reason not to take a few minutes to get an agreement in writing, when the process is so simple.
How is it different?
We’re different from other legal companies because not only do we give users the ability to create their own content using our templates – we give them the power to do it on the go. As a mobile-first company, we place a lot of value in being able to get work done anywhere you happen to find yourself. If a business owner meets a freelancer at a coffee shop and wants to hire him or her to create a logo for their company, they can create and sign a contract on the spot with Shake. Shake’s templates are also written in common, understandable language. There is less hesitation to sign an agreement when the terms are completely understandable to both parties. Keeping things simple helps our users get work done more efficiently.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
We’re trying to infuse a sense of mobility and simplicity into the legal industry without undermining the law itself. The legal industry is currently valued at over $300 billion. Of that $300 billion, about a third of it comes from small businesses and consumer-driven enterprises. In addition, there are billions of handshake agreements made every year, which don’t even factor into the market-size estimates above. We call this TinyLaw, and it’s growing rapidly. More and more people are turning to freelancing as a full time career path, and we’re excited to become a part of those individuals’ daily business practices. We’re focusing on getting small businesses, freelancers and consumers who are engaged in the P2P economy to integrate Shake into their routines. Even when it makes sense to consult a lawyer, Shake is a great tool for thinking through the important questions before having that conversation.
What is the ShakeLaw business model?
Right now, Shake is completely free. We’re planning to introduce premium features later this year that will allow for more customization and collaboration within the app. Some of the features we’re thinking about include being able to upload your own logo or branding to your agreements. We’re also considering a collaboration feature to allow users to share draft versions of agreements with other people in their company for internal editing. Our basic templates and the Shake app itself will remain free in order to remain accessible to everyone.
Why is your team the right one to get the job done?
Each member of Team Shake represents a different subset of the people we’re trying to reach with our product: freelancers, entrepreneurs, and even lawyers themselves. This strong mix of backgrounds results in a variety of perspectives on both the law and consumer/small business pain points. Many of our team members, myself included, come from freelance backgrounds. We understand firsthand the importance of capturing the terms of a freelance agreement in writing. Our Chief Legal Officer, who is responsible for writing our templates, making sure that they are legally effective but still very simple to understand, is a former journalist and entrepreneur as well. We’re in no way anti-lawyer and we value the variety of perspectives our team members contribute.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within 6 months?
We have a lot of big plans for 2014 that we’re all really excited about. First up, we’re launching a web app version of Shake. We’re hoping to launch it in beta in the coming weeks and we can’t wait to bring Shake to a whole new group of users. With our web app, Shake will be available on every device, including Android, so freelancers and small business owners who may not have had access to our iOS app will be able to enjoy the full functionality of Shake. We’re also looking to launch new templates, a native Android version of Shake and premium features in the next several months.
If you could speak with one person in the New York community, who would it be and why?
One of the best things about being based in New York is having access to so many people and companies we admire. We’re lucky to have board members who come from BuzzFeed, Spotify, and leading VCs like RRE and SoftBank. Another New York City company we like a lot is Venmo. They’re enabling simple financial transactions, building products people love to use, and utilizing social platforms to change the way a mobile generation thinks about payments. Their mission very much aligns with the mobile-centric attitude we are trying to cultivate with Shake.
You recently raised a your second round of financing. What advice can you offer to NY startups that are currently looking for financing?
The best advice I can offer startups looking for financing would be to focus on your use case and your product. Don’t try to do too much. Our initial product specs included a number of features, which we will likely add at some point, but they weren’t core to solving the problem of making agreements dead simple and accessible on mobile. As a result, we ended up cutting 80% of our original plan in the spirit of simplifying and focusing our message. The result was that our strongest and most important objectives moved to the forefront of our priorities list, and we were able to focus on our objectives more clearly. With a clear set of goals in mind, we were able to work towards a second round of financing with very distinct plans.
Why did you launch in New York?
New York is the epicenter of every community we are trying to reach – freelancers, small businesses, sharing economy participants, and legal. There are huge communities of freelancers and small businesses who need affordable, accessible legal protection. An important subset of small businesses that we know very well is the startup community, which is thriving in NYC. It’s an exciting time to be building a technology company here, but especially ones that will play a role in revolutionizing or evolutionizing traditional industries such as finance, media, fashion, and law, all of which are epicentered in New York. We would like to work with the legal community, not against it, so being down the street from nearly every major law firm is another advantage. Lastly, NYC is a hotbed for P2P transactions (furnishing your first apartment with used items found on craigslist is almost a right or passage). Being here allows us incredible access to users who understand the dynamics and pain points of the Sharing Economy extremely well.