Startup plays role of in-house lawyer for a day
Highlights from boston.com/hive, Boston’s source for innovation news.
So you’ve launched a startup and are enjoying some growth. Congrats.
But how confident are you that the service contract you drew up in your basement is airtight? If an outside vendor claimed you owe more money than you believe is right, could you defend your company?
These are the kinds of questions that haunt small-business owners. A Brookline startup, Daily General Counsel, aims to put their minds at ease by dispatching lawyers who will — as the name suggests — play the role of an in-house attorney for a day, resolving as many issues as they can in eight hours for a flat fee of $1,500.
“We’re out to solve the ‘bolt-upright’ problem — the thing that makes a business owner bolt upright in the middle of the night,” said founder Jan Glassman.
In a single day, a Daily GC attorney might be able to buff up flimsy contract language, formulate a plan for negotiating the terms of a lease, and ensure that human resources policies comply with applicable laws.
These are the sorts of issues that Glassman and her husband and business partner, Joel Sowalsky, handled as general counsels for big companies before starting this venture. For now, they are the only two attorneys on staff and have performed legal services for about two dozen businesses during a beta test.
Adam Korngold, who owns Waves Car Wash in West Roxbury, was among the early clients. He’s starting a related business, selling cash-management software to other car wash companies, and said he and his partner needed a partnership agreement for themselves and a sales contract for their customers.
According to Korngold, Sowalsky borrowed a desk at Waves, completed both documents, and found time to update the company’s corporate filings — all in the same day.
“I really liked that it was a fixed rate,” Korngold said. “There was no looking for a quote, no uncertainty.”
A $1,500 expense is not insignificant. But a billing rate of less than $200 per hour counts as a relative bargain. And there’s the potential cost of not hiring a lawyer, Glassman said.
“Everyone starts in their garage or kitchen with a passion,” she said. “They love making their product or delivering their service. But they don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know how many rights they’re giving away.”
$3m grant gives nonprofit a boost
Seeding Labs, a Boston nonprofit group that sends surplus lab equipment to researchers in developing countries, has landed a $3 million grant from the US Agency for International Development that should help triple its reach over the next three years.
In collaboration with USAID, Seeding Labs expects to use the money to deliver $20 million worth of equipment to more than 100 universities in Cameroon, Uruguay, Kenya, and other countries. Such a wave of donations would benefit some 45,000 scientists, said founder Nina Dudnik.
“It’s going to be huge,” Dudnik said. “We see it as our job to unlock the innovation that is stuck in these labs by sharing these resources. Each one of these students we help is going to become a doctor, scientist, teacher, researcher — so there’s a multiplier effect.”
The belief is that important research can happen anywhere but is typically confined to first-world countries because of disparities in resources. Dudnik wants to level the playing field.
“If you found a kid with the desire and potential to play baseball, he’s probably found a stick and a ball somehow,” Dudnik said.
“These researchers display incredible desire and motivation. We look at what have they accomplished with whatever they do have. You’d be amazed what’s coming out of bootstrapped labs.”