With nearly every aspect of life being influenced by technology, information about everything that’s important is just a quick search away. With mobile apps changing how knowledge is presented and shared, even complicated subjects are being simplified — including the intricacies and complexities of the Indian legal system.
Legal tech is big business in the West — as data politics and privacy issues have come to the fore, legal tech has become more than a buzzword and a veritable area of innovation. The term legal tech can be used to cover any number of models, but put simply, startups in this field are using technology and knowledge of the law to simplify business legalities and compliance.
Though India has been slow in adopting legal tech, given the challenges that businesses face in terms of compliance means that the Indian market needs innovation in this context, now more than ever. Taking on this challenge is Vakilsearch, which pioneered legal tech in India in 2012 to help businesses meet their legal needs.
“We are the only company in the legal sector to have used technology to bridge the legal gap”, Rajkumar Ganapathy, CTO, Vakilsearch, told Inc42 in a recent interaction on how the startup has leveraged new-age tech standards to solve the challenges. With the goal of making the legal system simple in India, Vakilsearch has helped many SMEs and MSMEs register their companies and stay legally compliant.
Legal tech solutions can simplify everything from registration to accounting compliance to documentation and filing. Startups and MSMEs run by first-time entrepreneurs have to ensure thorough compliance to avoid losses. Automating these processes is the obvious solution, but it’s more complex than it sounds because of the different government departments that one has to deal with.
Vakilsearch provides over 300 services to the customers with one-click access and solution to all their legal problems. The aim is to enable 100% end-to-end digital experience on mobile phones when dealing with statutory requirements.
“Today, non-compliance arises not because MSMEs do not want to be compliant, they are not sure about the time and money that needs to be invested to get things done,” added Ganapathy.
Cloud infrastructure providers such as DigitalOcean are proving invaluable in helping startups provide seamless service, through smart storage and server solutions. For startups, cloud services play a crucial role in ensuring robust infrastructure provisioning, management and maintenance and more.
This relieves a startup of many tasks such as managing security by setting up firewalls, enables instant scalability (horizontal and vertical), accounts for bandwidth provisioning and more. As Ganapathy told us, thanks to the cost efficiency, machine configurations and network quotas, DigitalOcean allowed Vakilsearch to become more efficient in serving businesses.
From a data privacy and security point of view, Vakilsearch collects the necessary data from the customers, removing the friction of going through different channels to get the work done. It stores data locally within India to comply with the expected data localisation laws. “All our customer data is digitally localised to the geographical location of their operations; this ensures that an Indian customer or Indian company’s data would be stored only in our Indian object store and databases,” Ganapathy elaborated on the company’s data practices.
Here are a few excerpts from Inc42’s interaction with Ganapathy which shone the light on Vakilsearch’s journey and how it is revolutionising the legal system for small business users.
Inc42: How are you integrating technology to help businesses overcome the challenges in their legal compliance and differentiate yourself with other non-digital services?
Rajkumar Ganapathy: We believe technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning can bring a drastic change in the legal sector and change the way the legal market functions.
Any legal process is complicated and tedious for anyone who is not well versed with the system. This is where we come in. The Vakilsearch app is seamless and simple to work with. It takes less than a minute to install. In order to get started, the user simply registers with the mobile number and chooses between Hindi, English or Tamil as their preferred language. Post which, the app lists down the services the user wishes to avail.
For instance, if you want to incorporate a company, you just need to submit your ID, address proof, the name of your firm and the sector that you are working in. And then we extract all the other data after taking your consent.
Inc42: Could you elaborate on your other offerings and products?
Rajkumar Ganapathy: Apart from our services being available 100% online and the Vakilsearch app available on the App Store and Playstore, we also offer legal consultation with our subject matter and legal experts for all services absolutely free of cost.
Additionally, Vakilsearch offers subscription model and is the first to do so in India in the legal-tech sector. Some of the benefits of bringing the model for our users is that it is cost effective and definitely in demand.
Inc42: What security measures are you taking to protect the data of the clients?
Rajkumar Ganapathy: All communications to and from our servers are based on HTTPS and HTTP/2 to ensure the highest security. We also ensure that the ciphers that we use for TLS encryption are as per the latest recommendation standards. We also ensure that the databases have at-rest encryption enabled and we run all well known applications on custom ports instead of the default ports to avoid data sniffing. Even if anyone else gets access to those documents, they would make no sense because they are encrypted at rest.
Inc42: What are some of the products and solutions by DigitalOcean that you use and how has that impacted the growth of Vakilsearch?
Rajkumar Ganapathy: Specifically, products such as Droplets and Kubernetes have given us good performance at economical pricing, which is the key benefit for us. Additionally, when it comes to implementation, our development operations found it easier to work on these products. We especially love the way the DigitalOcean community forum and support team help in solving critical problems in tough times.
Inc42: What helped you choose DigitalOcean as a cloud provider as opposed to competing solutions?
Rajkumar Ganapathy: DigitalOcean is startup-friendly; their tech support is great and their engineers understand startup dynamics and help startups succeed. With the other major providers, you would receive premium support only when you satisfy certain spend requirements. In our DigitalOcean experience, that has not been the case.
Inc42: At what stage in a startup’s journey do you think migrating to a cloud partner becomes important? When did you move to DigitalOcean for your cloud computing and storage needs?
Rajkumar Ganapathy: I believe a startup should leverage the help of cloud services from day one. I see no reason to be building out infrastructure and maintaining it. It does not make sense anymore. We moved to DigitalOcean early December 2018, transitioning from our other cloud provider.
Inc42: Can you throw some light on your expansion plans, with respect to new products or services?
Rajkumar Ganapathy: Every quarter, we launch new services at Vakilsearch. We are constantly growing and expanding on that front. Some of the latest service verticals are fundraising and pitch deck creation, FSSAI and IEC registration, legal change of name or surname, correction of name, Legal Change of Gender, forming and managing an NGO or Trust and more.
Inc42: Where do you see the next big innovation in your domain coming from?
Rajkumar Ganapathy: I feel the next innovation in legal, tax and compliance (LTC) space will be by technologies such as AI/ML to power end-to-end automation. This would allow customers to get instant answers from smart chatbots, submit necessary documents on their mobile phones.
This article is part of the Inc42 and DigitalOcean ongoing series — “Conversations On Cloud: Driving The New Wave Of Disruption”. As part of the series, we present you the stories of startups that are leveraging cloud computing to create digital disruptions.