Melvin Sumapung on LegalTech for Marginalized Indonesians, State-Owned Enterprises, and Founder Sacrifices - E67

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"120 million people at any given moment Indonesia, is experiencing significant legal issues. But when it comes to empowering them, fighting them to seek justice, they don't know what to do, they don't know where to go. And so, 70% of all of them just give up. And so, I find this as course to empower and to push myself to enter the LegalTech." - Melvin Sumapung

 

Melvin Sumapung is the Co-Founder & CEO of Justika (www.justika.com). Justika is a legal services marketplace, aiming to make justice more accessible to Indonesians. They helped tens-of-thousands of Indonesians seeking help on divorce, inheritance, criminal, land and property, and also businesses. The platform also partners with the public sector such as the Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs and also The Asia Foundation, to provide free consultations to covid impacted SMEs and domestic violence victims.

Before joining Justika, Melvin worked at an AI/data analytics startup where he improved the functionality of the most widely used regulations database in Indonesia, and had also spent his career in the corporate strategist and business transformation field of corporates.

Melvin graduated from Bandung Institute of Technology, majoring in Industrial Engineering. In his spare time he enjoys doing sports, and is always open to connect and casually chat with fellow and aspiring entrepreneurs. You can connect to him at https://www.linkedin.com/in/melvinsumapung/ 

 

Jeremy Au: [00:00:00] Hey, Melvin. Welcome to the show.

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:00:32] Thanks a lot. Thank you for having me.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:00:35] Yeah. Well, it's a pleasure. I know we've got to chat a few times over the past few months and I thought you had a fun story to share, tackling LegalTech and Indonesia, which is an interesting combination and it will be a fun one to discuss.

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:00:50] Yeah, indeed.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:00:52] Yeah. So Melvin, for those who don't know you yet, why don't you just tell us a little bit about yourself?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:00:58] Hi everyone. Thanks for joining the room. My name is Melvin. Basically, I am the CEO and also the co-founder of Justika. Justika is an early-stage startup, basically a legal services marketplace, aiming to improve access to justice in Indonesia. So basically the way my career has started is, I've been starting my career in the corporate world. So, I was in the strategy realm back then in a telco company in Indonesia. And then long story short, after all the journey to find a better way to really find and realize the impact I've been meaning to have, I ended up in the LegalTech world.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:01:46] Awesome, Melvin. And just let's go back to the beginning. So starting out your work and career in Indonesia, tell us more about that. What was it like?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:01:55] Oh, yeah. I started my career in the corporate strategy. So, I was a strategy analyst, in a way, back then, the biggest telco company in Indonesia. And I find myself really missing something. There is always something that is lacking in a way, because it's just for me personally to be honest, in terms of slides, strategy, decks, things like that. But don't get me wrong, people should take pride and really should be proud of corporate strategy work, management consulting work, but it's just hard for me to connect the dots between the decks I made and what's happening on the ground. And then I cannot really find the sense of impact that I can recognize myself into in my first career.

 

And back then, an opportunity comes up. So Indonesia got its first professional background president, President Joko Widodo. And he helped create a lot of shift, also focusing in the state-owned enterprises. The career or the recruitment dogma has been changed. Usually back then, people... It's not the best or the most merit-based career ladder, if you may, but they've been trying to put a lot of professionals in state-owned enterprises. And so I joined a state-owned enterprises, which was basically trying to improve one of his campaign promises which is... Because, well, Indonesia has 17,000 islands and we have more oceans than lands. And so they've been trying to really improve the way ports and the logistics being worked on.

 

And so that is my first leadership experience, to be honest. Because I really jumped into an environment that is very, very different. It's very full of bureaucracy and I get to take big decisions. Although I'm still very junior back then, I can hire people, I can lead teams and I set up processes for key management to really do business transformation initiatives. But then, the bureaucracy get the best out of me. In a way, I get really bogged down with, because the leadership changes and so on. And so I've been promising myself to find an organization which has no bureaucracy. And back then, startup was one of the company that promises so. And so I joined a startup whereby I launched my first product there, which is an AI company, launching basically a Google for lawyers in Indonesia.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:04:40] Let's talk about the bureaucracy there. So you joined in white eye bushy tail, that's what they call it in very optimistic over changing things. So what happened? Do we see bureaucracy? Was it because people were slow or was because you had to talk to a lot of people? What does it mean to be bureaucratic?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:04:57] Yeah. It's a very interesting question. Well, I wouldn't say people are slow. People really, especially Indonesians, they really, to be honest I believe at heart, they really want to make good changes and really want to make positive changes back then. I feel also that in the state-owned enterprise. But then people get very, very scared because, when you try to change things, for you also has the possibility to, in a way, hurt people. Or for example, in the port company or whereby we try to make a change, we implemented a very simple accounting system, whereby it takes away the chances for the... So you basically has to pay some money in order to get your container as a good owner, to be handled firstly. And so when you implement an accounting system, those chances to get additional money gets thrown out in a way.

 

And in a way, the corruption is rooted all the way through. But then these people who really want to make a change tends to get bogged down, because they would find a way to jeopardize and to "Criminalize what you're trying to do." For example, the easiest part is the procurement. So, when you want to implement one accounting system, you said... It's something that is very common, for example, every port use it, it's a world-class thing. But then you really want things to move fast, so you directly appoint this vendor. And so people that don't like you in a way, would then just say that it's not properly auction, things like that. So people are really fearing those kinds of things.

 

And so when you do procurement, for example, you have to find the most neutral opinion. For me, I have to go to the country's universities, the country's academicians to create one lengthy assessment to basically prove that it's neutral and it's very justified to pick a vendor. And one month project turns into a six months or one year project.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:07:11] Wow. Thanks for sharing honestly about that. Okay, so you're frustrated, you're basically what you're saying is, people are fast but people are afraid and then that's causing things to slow down. That happens a lot. So everything slows down, people are checking, trying to be neutral or whatever it means. Did you know that you wanted to be a founder then? Or did you already know that you wanted to build something new? Or were you more like starting to be like, "Okay, I'm going to be more just in joining another company like Dattabot?"

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:07:42] So no, to be honest. I just really need to find an avenue whereby I feel that it's the most effective and the quickest way to deliver what I've been meaning to do, basically trying to make a better, it may sound cliche, but to make an impact, to recognize for myself in a way. So it turns out that, as the story goes, the easiest way is to be a founder.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:08:08] Right. So, let's talk about your time. So you joined Dattabot at the time. So how did you get started there?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:08:14] Yeah. After I joined the state-owned enterprise, and in a way I got fed up with the bureaucracy. Also there's an opportunity because Dattabot just do their first fundraising. And a lot of the team in the state-owned enterprise, my team is actually BCG people in a way. And so there's the investor who invested in Dattabot back then, is also someone that is quite closely related to BCG. And so, he's looking for someone to basically be the COO office, if you may, of Dattabot. And long story short, I just clicked with Regi back then, the founder. And I joined as the, I think, one of the first hires ever since they raised the fund.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:09:06] Amazing. So when you say, click, what does it mean to click? So then you start ideating together, what does it mean to start that work together?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:09:16] Yeah. I think Regi also has the basic fundamental, in a way, purpose to create something that is really disruptive or something that is improving a lot or moving a big needle in this society. And when he sees that I have to jump from corporate to unchartered career in state-owned enterprise, and him also, because he was really living a really nice life as a, I think an expert houseman at General Electrics. And he jumped to create also his own company. And I think both those things created, in a way, a purpose alignment in what we both are trying to achieve.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:10:11] What was it like setting up at the time, founding something from scratch in LegalTech?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:10:19] It is really bloody, Jeremy. I think I wasted a lot of my angel's money when we started the LegalTech company. So one of the big hurdles for me is personally, back then the biggest team that I led was only five engineers trying to create a new product, and is partnering with, back then, Hukumonline. Because in a way, the business side of things is quite secure because I am building a product inside, or secured by Dattabot, which is Regi's platform. That's my only experience building or developing a product. But then I jumped off creating something from scratch, and so there's so many things that I just didn't know.

 

It took a lot of time and a lot of money to basically pay for the mistakes that I've made, including taking so much time making decisions, being not assertive in making feedbacks or firing people. And also because we had a really nice funding and a really nice angel support back then. It's also, my back is not really against the wall in a way, and so I think I become quite complacent with the growth. Because it's not 10 times, it's not five times, it's a plateauing but I don't really take the hard decisions to make it grow again.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:11:56] Right. And then, well, that's common. For every founder you're kind of starting out. I was there. You're just trying to figure it out stuff, trying to understand the problem. So I wouldn't be so hard on yourself like that. So I guess, now we're looking at this like, what about LegalTech was interesting to you to tackle in Indonesia?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:12:16] Yeah. This is just something I believe it's just a combination of my idealistic goals in a way. And also "My vanity recognition." Because back then I was just... Because everybody in my circle was either working for Gojek or Traveloka or the sorts. So, I think that I want to be involved or to create something that is not transport related, and it is not e-commerce. And on the second hand, I really also think that a lot of smart people has also been working on and has been pushing on helping Indonesians to travel, helping Indonesians to transport, helping an indigenous to shop, but nobody has really thought about or do a lot of things in the legal industry although, legal has been also one of the basic human rights.

 

Well, the government has been obliged to set aside budgets to provide legal aid for marginalized people in a way, but nobody in the tech players has already done something on that. And if you also look at the statistics, 120 million people at any given moment Indonesia, is experiencing significant legal issues. But when it comes to empowering them, fighting them to seek justice, they don't know what to do, they don't know where to go. And so, 70% of all of them just give up. And so, I find this as course to empower and to push myself to enter the LegalTech.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:14:04] Why do these problems exist? So I understand the problems exist, but why would you say they exist from your perspective?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:14:10] Yeah. So, I believe there are three main pinpoints. So the first one is just the assymetry of information for people when they look for legal services and legal help. It's just like healthcare in a way, because you come into the professional or the doctor or the lawyer, not knowing what to expect. When you get sick in a way, you wouldn't know the cost that you would need to basically put forth until you are completely cured and also the time. But in a sense, healthcare is somewhat, there is quite well-informed because there are enough articles, and people tend to talk about it a lot. People, especially mothers and housewives, I believe are sharing tips when their child gets sick, for example. But the information flow just doesn't happen when it comes to legal, because it's something that is very secretive. And is very, very private in people's lives because you're talking about matrimony law here, you're talking about divorce, you're talking about inheritance, something that is very private in your family. You just don't want to share it to people.

 

So, the information flow doesn't happen. But the exposure in the media and all the branding that is put forward by the media about lawyers, is always something that is quite negative in a way. Because lawyers is always portrayed with someone that is very, very slick, rich. And so they tend to "perceptively kit on you." And so these people, before they even try to seek help, they just quit because they're too afraid to take the first step forward.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:16:08] So how does Justika play a role in that? Because I know that you're tackling that problem along those dimensions. I guess, is it because you're helping to humanize some of the legal services, you're helping in more transparent? How does Justika play a role in that?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:16:24] Yeah. So basically what we're trying to do is not to undermine the lawyer profession. We try to create a way to easily access lawyers as easy as getting a taxi driver like Gojek in a way. Because, simply you just go inside the website, tell a bit about your story, two, three sentences and then you pay a really decent amount of money, $2, to just chat with a lawyer. Within a one minute, you can actually get a curator lawyer based on what you've shared in the description. And the best lawyer, meaning the most available one and the one that is matching with what your classification of the problem with the expertise will be given to you within one minute.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:17:15] We've seen some of these robo-lawyers come out in the States. Are you inspired by them or is that something that... How do you compare and contrast their approach versus your approach?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:17:26] That's a very interesting question. So, at least for Indonesians and for our users, there's a lot of an element of having someone to talk to with this illegal issues. Because, most of the time it's about your family. And so, it's a lot more valuable when you are able to tell the story to a real person, to a lawyer and to chat. So we've been also exploring the path of creating chatbots and things like that. But the experience and the trust is not the same.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:18:03] Yeah. I get it. So, it's a different trust level I think as a consumer. And your tests didn't show the true robo, as a front, it doesn't look good basically, does not accepted by the market.

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:18:17] Yeah, true.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:18:18] So, you've been working on this. What surprised you as you worked as a founder? So before a founder, I don't know, maybe you open up the news and you see all these YC people and everything. And then now that you're a founder yourself, what surprised you about being a founder that you didn't expect?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:18:37] The price, meaning the sacrifices, in a way.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:18:41] Yeah. Sure. There's a lot of sacrifices that you made. For me, I think sacrifices and me and I was like, " I sacrificed my health." I don't know if I told you, I gained 20 kilograms over two startups. I went from fit, to overweight, to medically obese. And I was like, "Aah." And after that thankfully, ever since I sold the last company, I've been able to lose 10 kilograms during the lockdown and eating healthy and everything. But I was like, "Whoa." Obviously I think it's not this weird, but it's like everything associated that let me gain that weight like eating a lot, stress eating, not sleeping well, things like that. Certainly it does for me. How about you? What do you think are the sacrifices that you see out there for founders?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:19:30] Yeah. I think for myself, one of the major thing that I think the price that I would have to pay and also... To be honest, a lot of credit has to be put on my family and my wife, to be honest for it. Because, the sacrifice that I think that I made is mostly also on the monetary gain or the salary that you make as a founder in a way. Because, when things go sour to be honest, for Justika back then, I think a while back before the pandemic. For me, I really need to convince my board that this is something that is believable, this is something that can grow significantly. And sometimes words, decks, numbers, projections just wouldn't cut it right. And so, you just have to show your skin as well.

 

And so, I've taken salary cuts when I was just a newlywed back then, and there's a lot of mortgages, things like that. And so, our lifestyle has to adjust as well. But as long as your family, your wife really supports and believe in what you do, I guess at the end of the day, you just pull through.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:20:43] Yeah. You said something that was very true. Just in the early days of being a founder, you have no salary which is hard to explain because anyway you're working full time, you get a salary. So you always have that stability. But it's not just the not having money, which we obviously have a time. But it's also the uncertainty of when you'll get a salary, that's tough as well. And then there's the uncertainty over like things can go bad, even worse.

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:21:11] Yeah. And you imagine the uncertainty arises when you just got married, and somewhere along the line, turns out your wife is pregnant and the uncertainty increases.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:21:28] Yeah. I totally get it. My wife was always watching me just struggle in the early days. And I remembered there was a time when we were going to close, I think A round. But it was like always touching goal. And then I remember it was right before our wedding and I told her, I said, "Hey, I don't know if we are able to close this series A." And then she was like, "Oh, what are you trying to say?" And I said, "Yeah, I might be." I said, "Well, I'm going for this wedding thing, but if I don't close this then I'm going to be firing and laying off people to cut of burn." Before the wedding.

 

So I may not maybe... And I was like wishy-washy. I said "You have you had to be present during a wedding, blah, blah." She was like, "Let me say, Jeremy, if you're trying to reschedule the wedding, you're not going to get another shot this way. Not anytime soon. So just go get the money." Anyway, so I just had to make sure I hustled very hard. And I think literally the day before the rehearsals, I finally signed the term sheet and everything. So, then I was like, "Okay, the process is moving along, so thank goodness."

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:22:37] Wow. Wow.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:22:38] Yeah. How about you Melvin? Who are you thankful for to a support you had just during this journey so far?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:22:46] Yeah. I think I've mentioned a lot about my family and all the understandings that they have basically made, to sacrifice also their priorities and also their time, but also the bosses that I've been working for that has... Particularly Regi and Dattabot, because they really made me in a way, realize, because as Asians, I think Jeremy, being in an Asian family, you don't get to make a lot of decisions in a way. Because a lot of important decisions are usually controlled and also made by your father in a way. And so I have grown to be a quite a, in a way, insecure person when it comes to big decisions.

 

And working for Regi made me realize that when you're allowed to make decisions with big risks, and it turns out to be okay, it boosts really my confidence towards my decision-making and towards myself. And that's one of, I think, the person that I need to be thankful most.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:24:02] Do you feel like you get a lot of support, I'm just talking out loud obviously, from other founders in the Indonesia ecosystem? Just like asking out loud, because back in Boston, obviously there was a coworking space out of Harvard, so a lot of us were like cracking jokes and being very happy and also being very hardworking at like 1:00 AM. So I remember this guy I used to work with and then I always joke that we called ourselves the midnight writers. It was just a nice way for me to sound cool and say that were working late in class. How's that? But do you feel like you have that sense of community or are there founders that you'd like to hang out with?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:24:44] Yeah, of course, in a way there's two points and I believe that when you reach out to the founders, most founders are really, really, really open and they really want to help you in a way. Because I believe, and I also right now also feel because it's, when you hear others' stories, others' problems, in a way, one, you're more thankful and you don't feel lonely. And so every founders that have been reaching out to has always been very supportive and put really significant and tangible support. That's one. But then number two is that the community is just not that easy to find in a way. You don't yet have this so-Called, a well established platform whereby you can seek support.

 

And so, you just need to get in the circle first and grow from there to get to the founders. And also number three, I think the ecosystem is still in its infancy. And so, if you want to seek others' support, then just mentorship or advice. And you talk about angel investors, people believing in you giving financial support as well. The series A, or the series B, or people, the founders that has exited in Indonesia is just not that much. Whereby probably in the U.S. a lot of people has made a lot of money, and so the flywheel has turned round, right?

 

Jeremy Au: [00:26:20] Yeah. I think it's definitely true, but things are changing. So, I think two things come out, one is founders are always happy to help out the founders because we know how crazy hard the whole system is. We just know how insane it is and how tough it is, so always happy to help one another. But also at the same point in time is, there's a certain gravity to the ecosystem, which is that the people 10 years ago in Singapore and Indonesia probably had even tougher time, having even less community. But hopefully, 10 years in the future, ecosystems will be much stronger to support future founders in Singapore and Indonesia.

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:26:58] Yeah. True.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:27:00] Now, I'm just curious a little bit. A bit of LegalTech and everything, who do you think are the important players in the field?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:27:11] In South East Asia or Indonesia?

 

Jeremy Au: [00:27:14] Indonesia.

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:27:16] Well, if you go into Crunchbase and look the startups that has been in a way, raised money or invested, you can only see, I think, three or four startups in the LegalTech area. If you take it as one of the benchmark to be somewhat important in a way, number one is Hukumonline, which has started, I think, on the early dot-com boom, early 2000. That's one. Basically the value that they've been giving is in terms of legal research, basically helping lawyers to find regulations, court decisions to aid their legal analysis. Secondly, well, it's Justika. And number three, there's this startup, also a LegalTech, quite similar to Justika, actually two of those. But Justika currently is focusing on retail and consumers. Both of them are focusing on a different segment, which is SMEs called Kontrak Hukum. And the other is, the name, I think Mylaw or Lawgo, things like that, because it changed, I think. And it was invested by one of Philippines, called the UMG Idealab.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:28:34] When you're thinking about, I guess just brainstorming with you here. So LegalTech big problem, lots of spending, very inefficient. So I think it makes sense from a market. Do you think it's a goal?  Do you think it's a winner takes all or do you think it's going to be more like people take off different verticals of the LegalTech system?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:28:59] That's a very interesting question. It's very hard. Well, I do think it's a winner takes all market to be honest, because what all the players, including Hukumonline in Indonesia, because Hukumonline is focusing on surfacing lawyers and not the end users, if I may. The others that are focusing on the end users, SMEs, individuals, things like that, are really solving the generic problems, meaning trying to help people, to empower people, to push people, to just take the first step and the first leap to take care of the legal problem. The one that when you then crack this formula, the way to really solve and to remove all barriers for people to access legal services, then it can only be a winner takes all market because, all users and all people were basically flock there. Because, it doesn't matter if you have problems in matrimonial law, if you have problems in SME law, the basic first barriers or the entry barriers remains the same. People don't know what to do, people are very confused. That's I think one of the drivers that will create this as a winner takes all market.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:30:23] Yeah. Makes a lot of sense. I think trust is a big one. So whether they trust you on this or that, and of course we'll find out if they trust you on one type of law, whether they'll trust you in different types of law. So that'd be interesting to see as it turns out.

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:30:39] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's true.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:30:41] Yeah. I see. Looks like there's some people who have questions, so feel free to raise your hands. We are recording this for the podcast, so feel free. If you want to raise your hand, you can ask some questions over to Melvin. But I guess my last question for you, Melvin, before we go for questions is, if you could go back 10 years in time, what advice would you give yourself?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:31:01] 10 years in time? Aha, yeah.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:31:04] Where were you of Melvin, 10 years ago?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:31:06] 10 years ago, 2010, I think I'm still in a telco or in ITB. I think one of the biggest advice that I would give myself is, well, to basically just trust in yourself. Take the plunge and things will take care of itself. Be less insecure, take more risks. You don't have to be someone that needs to get the typical career of being in a big corporate and nice cozy job, a stable one. Taking the risk is also, and taking the leap somewhat would reward you more at the end of the day.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:31:50] Awesome. Thanks Melvin. So Julia, feel free to. I think anybody who has questions for Melvin feel free to raise your hands. We are recording for a podcast, so just hands up. So Julia, go ahead.

 

Julia: [00:32:01] Yeah. So Melvin, you mentioned earlier that a lot of consumers, their first reaction is just confusion and don't know where to seek help. I'm very inspired by your collaboration with the Asia Foundation on the KONEKSI platform, to really reach out to women who are experiencing domestic violence, and then connecting them to all of these helps including legal. And my question is more on just Indonesia Fly 101, how do you generate the consumer education given the diverse heterogeneous market or where the consumer are at in terms of the legal awareness?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:32:55] Thank you, Julia, for the question and your participation. Thanks so much for recognizing and taking the time to look into Justika and what we've been doing and the partnership with the Asia Foundation. I think Justika is really blessed in the customer education sense, because our strategic partner is Hukumonline. And so these Indonesians, when they face legal issues, first things first, they really don't want to talk to someone that is not trustworthy, that is not a family, that is not friends. And so, while they're looking for word of mouth references, they will basically Google and they will look for answers in the internet. And we've been blessed with the strategic partnership with Hukumonline because Hukumonline has create contents for the last, I think 17 years, basically acquiring questions from people in the internet. Any questions ranging from fundraising, when you talk about IPO or capital market, the complicated ones to very simplistic ones like when you have, for example, a chicken, for example, and your chicken when you're in a village goes outside your home and create a mess in your neighbor, then what's the legal standing of it. And these questions are all answered by Hukumonline's team. And they have these 17 years worth of content. It's already something that is quite high in terms of SEO ranking. And this is the way that we have been trying to reach the people who needs help because it's their first aid. It gives them the gender information of what they're trying or what they're facing currently. And when they need more specific questions, then our chat platform comes and they just need to pay like $2 to share of their specific pinpoints. So a long answer short, we'll basically use contents.

 

Julia: [00:35:15] Yeah. So just to recap, you're saying that you have a platform that has this very rich inquiry Q&A, a ready curator and seems like the STO, there's also consumer who already knowing and understanding this is the source to go for. My follow-up question is, you mentioned this consultation cost is $2. I'm just curious, what is the relationship or what is the perception of attorney in Indonesia of LegalTech? Do they see this as a friend or foe?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:35:57] Interesting take. So, I look at your bio a bit, Julia, I think you're in health care. So I think you can also relate to this. Actually the way they see Justika and the LegalTech marketplace, if I may, is basically something that is, I'm not going to say against, but it's quite in the gray area if you talk about the code of ethics of the profession. Because doctors, lawyers and notaries are not allowed to do marketing and to do ads or promotions. But then on the other side, a lot of law firms, a lot of lawyers also put up social media accounts, they create YouTube contents, they even become influencers in the social media.

 

And so, if you talk about doctors, they are quite receptive because there's Halodoc and so on and so forth. But lawyers, they still see this as something that is quite in the gray area. But for people who already more open-minded or already is quite receptive with the digital interaction and all those things, they take it as an avenue to one, to make more revenue because in a way they don't need to go to coffee shops, they don't need to spend time to transport or to push marketing fee. Because when lawyers meet their clients in coffee shops and the likes, all those are marketing costs, and not all leads converted.

 

But when you talk about LegalTech marketplaces like Justika, you just need to activate your applications and the leads coming in continuously, and they're paying from day one from the consult in the chat. And so they get as an avenue to get more revenue, a new way whereby they are not allowed to do marketing.

 

Julia: [00:38:03] Yeah. Very interesting. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah, I think there's a lot of parallel between legal and healthcare, where this direct to consumer marketing is not allowed.

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:38:15] Yeah.

 

Julia: [00:38:15] But it seems that what I'm learning from you is, you're basically grabbing the early adopter for seeing this as an opportunity and gaining their buy-in to really generate the supply. Thank you so much.

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:38:33] Yes. You got it perfect. So we only started with only five lawyers back then, only the early adopters. It's been growing until now, thankfully.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:38:44] Roughly how many lawyers are there now today?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:38:47] If you talk about the active lawyers, we have around 50 lawyers. But in the database, the lawyers that has been involved in Justika is around eight to 900 lawyers.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:39:02] Yeah. Does great. This just keeps going. And then those who are active will get more value, consumers are getting more access and then the flywheel keeps going forward to sell in a marketplace like this.

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:39:13] Yeah.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:39:14] Awesome. Melvin, I think I want to ask one last question is like, when you see this continuing, or I think you're going to benefit and help a lot of people. Because the people who could afford lawyers before Justika came along will continue to be able to afford lawyers, but you're really helping people who don't know how to access lawyers or can't really afford lawyers. Because you're helping them get access and get a competitive and transparent quote. So, how do you see the vision for Justika over the next five to 10 years?

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:39:48] Yeah. There's two points to the question, Jeremy. Thank you for the question. It got me rethink the company as well. First one is that, currently we've been focusing ourselves in trying to improve the way the lawyers and users meet. But then when currently they're meeting and they're talking, chatting inside the platform, we have so many different verticals coming in. And it transforms from an access problem towards a surface delivery problem. And so I envision Justika to be more than just a meeting place, but also a surface delivery place, in a way, an alternative dispute resolution method.

 

Because, to give you an example where if you talk about inheritance law, most conflicts comes from the ones in the family that really feels that it's not fair in terms of the division of the estate. If you talk to conventional lawyers, then they would suggest you to go into court and battle it out and to have a court rectify decision towards the division of the estate. But if you really look at the fundamental problems, most cases can be solved by lawyers giving a simple legal opinion or document, that is clear in terms of the division, based on regulations and all the calculations. Because, we're in a Muslim country and the Islamic religion really ranges and it's really straight forward, it's really clear the way it divides the estate.

 

It can be brought by the person to the family and they can discuss it with the family. And it can be solved without even going to court. So it's a new way to basically resolve your dispute. I see this as, in a way, an alternative to a cheaper and more economical alternative and more peaceful, if you may, way to resolve your dispute other than court. And secondly, to expand it more than just lawyers, because we've been experienced the troublesome pinpoint if you look for legal professionals and legal help, is not only concerning lawyers, but also if you talk about notary and if you talk about tax consultants, things like that. They also have the same problems. And they have been inquiring about those as well, the customers.And so we've been meaning to also add people or service providers that will help those things as well.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:42:46] Amazing, Melvin. I think you're doing something that's really important. It's hard to explain because it's obviously, as a founder, I think you and I talking about a startup, the team, and it's tough and hard and everything. But I think as someone who's also been in the social sector and seeing how many people just don't have access to legal services, I think you're doing something very special by bringing in private capital, I guess. We've a startup methodology, but building up for people who will never know that you're a startup, I guess, will never know that you're working your ass off. But they're going to get a lawyer that they can trust in a process that's probably tough for them. So I just want to say, hats off to you on this.

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:43:34] Well, thank you so much.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:43:36] All right. So, to that, I'm going to wrap up the show. Thanks everybody.

 

Melvin Sumapung: [00:43:40] Thanks for joining everyone. I hope you get a lot of insights and enjoy it as much as I do.

 

Jeremy Au: [00:43:48] Thank you for listening to BRAVE. If you enjoyed this podcast, please share this episode with friends and colleagues. Sign up at www.jeremyau.com to discuss this episode with other community members in our forum. Stay well and stay brave.

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