Interview with Bhaven Shah: Co founder, Presolv360
1. Can tell us something about yourself
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my story. In India, businesses, investors and in fact, even the locals view dispute resolution and the justice delivery system as its weakness. And they are not to blame. You will be shocked to know that the Indian court system is currently dealing with a logjam of 32 million pending cases. This translates to an unbelievable 300 years to clear this backlog if no new case is instituted. To top this, 40,000 plus cases are being filed in Indian courts every day, each dragging on for an average of 13 years in court!
While these statistics could attract more than a few disheartened faces, it also attracts the attention of innovators and changemakers. In probably the most litigious country in the world, what could be the answer to one of the most basic human rights - JUSTICE? Could dispute resolution be converted to India’s strength?
Well, that was the eureka moment! After studying India’s Gram Panchayat System (local self-governance system at the village level) to international diplomacy, traditional dispute resolution techniques to global best-practices, it was time to change the way India dealt with disputes..
In a country where law and technology don’t meet eye-to-eye, three first-time entrepreneurs set out on a mission to marry technology to law and make dispute resolution simple, convenient and accessible.
2. You are a Co-Founder of Presolv360. Presolv360 a platform that resolves commercial disputes. How does the Platform provide value? And what is this role of technology, human expertise, and innovation in this approach?
Our journey started very differently and along the way we realized the need for each of these elements. I remember our first case was that of a young widow who lost her husband in a motor accident, leaving behind three children and a lot of debt for her to handle. For 5 years, she ran from pillar to post without receiving a single penny she was promised. We facilitated a resolution with the insurance company, and in three weeks, the negotiated compensation was credited to her bank account. With deep gratitude she told us, “thank you for saving me!”
We wanted to help more.. many more.. as many as we could. Technology was the only answer, and so we began building an ODR (online dispute resolution) platform. While technology undoubtedly makes life easier, the human touch required for resolving disputes is indispensable. We were fortunate to have a few believers who joined our mission and supported us in our early days.
Now the most interesting element – INNOVATION! While working on a number of cases, we realized that when a dispute arises, it is nearly impossible for two opposing mindsets to agree on anything, be it a common platform or a common dispute resolution expert. And then.. innovation came to the rescue..
Another important learning was that innovation often germinates from common sense and is not necessary a combination of technical jargons and unpronounceable words. The innovation was in our approach – we built a subscription-based model, where for just $5/year, one could secure themselves from the adversities of a dispute. If and when a dispute arose, the resolution would be done through our online platform and all costs (that of the lawyer and the arbitrator or mediator) would be borne by us.
It worked well – on one hand people were contractually bound to refer their disputes to the platform and on the other, it was a commitment not to go to court for small-time disputes.
3. You founded Presolv360 with two other founders, Namita Shah and Aman Sanghavi. Could you briefly say something about the role each of you fulfills?
As cliched as it sounds, I couldn’t have asked for anyone better than Namita or Aman. I often joke that professionally I am married to both of them and like any other relationship we do have differing opinions but what we share is a great bond which makes Presolv360 a great place to work at. They make my Mondays seem like Sundays.
While Namita handles product development and finance, Aman is our marketing and operations guy. I handle legal and innovation, and put together, I believe the Presolv360 team is one of character, vision and of course, a lot of fun to work with.
4. How does Presolv360 differ from similar initiatives?
Namita, Aman and I got together in 2016 and we spent enormous amounts of time since then in studying and researching the dispute resolution landscape across the globe. We also spent a lot of time talking to various affected parties – this included businesses, professionals, lawmakers, judges, lawyers, students and even housewives (to see how disputes impact each stakeholder).
Every aspect of Presolv360 – the team, the tech platform, the interface, the processes, the rules have been built on the back of research, experience and unbridled passion. But at the end of it, the beauty of Presolv360 is that it is
simple – we make dispute resolution easy!
Securing contracts rights at the inception makes the approach easy. The price point makes it easy on the pocket. The tech platform and support make dealing with complex processes easy. I believe we make dispute resolution easy and so life becomes easy.
5. If you have to choose 3 unique selling points which 3 should you choose to describe your business and why?
Trust – Namita, in her speeches, introduces Presolv360 saying we are in the business of building trust and not merely resolving disputes online. I could not agree with her more.
Quality – At work, we joke about how perfection is our goal and that excellence is tolerated – but the one thing we never joke about is quality.
Innovation – This is one of my favorite quotes – “For disrupting the status quo, you need some intelligence but a lot of imagination.”
6. What are your plans for Presolv360 world-wide? Would you consider a further roll-out and are there differences compared to the Asian market which might hinder a roll-out to other continents?
The Arbitration360 and Mediation360 module (Presolv360’s electronic arbitration and electronic mediation system) are built considering the UNCITRAL technical notes and model law, while also keeping in mind global ODR standards. With a few tweaks, Presolv360’s platform can be deployed in many jurisdictions for resolution of commercial disputes. We are actively looking at collaborations for rolling out Presolv360 world-wide.
Besides, we are also looking at integrating supplementary services offered by fellow innovators to make our platform a one-stop shop for dispute prevention and resolution. Even the thought of introducing a ‘made in India’ concept to the world gives me goosebumps.
7. The legal profession is changing and professionals need to be more business and tech-savvy. What do you see as the biggest challenge for the legal professional in let’s say five years from now?
Don’t you think nowadays people get really impatient? Earlier, people didn’t mind waiting in long queues to hail a cab – now I am one of those who cancels an Uber if it is more than 5 minutes away. In fact, I often use Twitter as a complaint mechanism since companies respond within a few hours as against their standard email reply acknowledging my complaint and asking me to wait for a few working days.
Few years from now, I believe people will expect professionals to deliver quality solutions within a very short time frame. Effectively solving the problem at hand after analyzing business needs, aptly applying human judgment and offering more than what is expected is what will keep professionals relevant down the line. Doing this without being tech-savvy?!.. Phew.
8. I am sure you closely watch the Indian legal tech startup community. What’s your advice for someone thinking about starting a new legal tech or legal start-up?
When we started Presolv360 – a whole lot of people thought we were naïve to believe that technology and law could ever go hand-in-hand, especially when it came to dispute resolution in India. We faced umpteen challenges, and some of our initiatives failed too.
Looking back, we realized that these two ingredients are prerequisites to succeed. Not challenges and failure – but the ATTITUDE toward these challenges and the idea of FAILING FORWARD (learn from your mistakes, don’t repeat them and try different things to get different results).
We have a weekly-updated list of all legal startups across the globe, for two main reasons. One – it inspires us and two – it keeps us grounded. I applaud each and every brave entrepreneur to have taken this step and challenged the status quo. I don’t believe I am wise enough to advise a fellow innovator or changemaker, but here is my two cents – doing something and failing is far better doing nothing and succeeding.
9. There is a lot of discussions ongoing about disruption in the legal market. What are your thoughts on this?
While many sectors have already witnessed or are witnessing disruptive change, the legal market has been playing catch up. I am one of those who believe when things get too stagnant, disruption is around the corner. To a large extent, the legal ecosystem is intertwined with the business ecosystem. The entire business ecosystem has been disrupted today. How businesses worked even a decade ago is very different from how they are run today. With such a backdrop, the legal industry is bound to witness a massive overhaul.
Lack of value and trust in the existing institutions also make a fertile ground for disruptive change to lay its foundation. This will be the decade for innovators and changemakers to go out there and build rewarding businesses – rewarding of course in terms of money, but more importantly.. IMPACT!
Bhaven Shah is a co-founder of Presolv360, a legaltech company that specializes in online commercial dispute resolution. With an academic background in finance and law, he has a decade of experience in understanding law, human relations and conflict resolution.
He is passionate about stimulating conversations around innovation and looks forward to interacting with fellow change makers with a common vision of making this world a better place.