Interview with Shivam Singla, Entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of Leegality
Shivam Singla is a lawyer who never made it to enrollment due to the paperwork involved. Shivam decided to start Leegality with the stated goal of transforming the way businesses conduct paperwork with their customers, business partners, employees and investors.
A graduate from the National Law School of India University Batch of 2016 – Shivam is passionate about the ways in which technology can be used to solve basic everyday pain points in legal processes faced by businesses around the country.
Under Shivam’s leadership as CEO and Founder, Leegality has rapidly grown its revenues by 20x since FY 2019.
It has maintained a cash flow positive balance sheet for the last 4 quarters – and has a rapidly growing team of more than 150 people.
Leegality has been rated as the best high growth startup to work at for three quarters in a row in xto10x’s eNPS Survey.
Tell us a little about yourself
I studied law at National Law School – but very early on, I was certain that I would start my own business after law school.
I started my career by leading Business Development and Food-Tech efforts at Bhukkad, an early entrant in the Healthy-Fast Food Category that was later acqui-hired by Curefit. I even tried my hand at journalism, and a SaaS company developing solutions for the hospitality industry.
I have always been passionate about how technology can solve many pain points in legal processes. Paperwork is the critical foundation of all modern commercial transactions.
Yet, unlike most other business processes, executing paperwork is largely a paper-based physical process.
For businesses, this physical process is a huge logistical and operations challenge that causes delays, loss of productivity, massive inconvenience, high costs and a bad customer experience.
Here is where I saw an opportunity. I established Leegality with one stated aim – to liberate Indian companies from paper.
Establishing a business is filled with legal processes and many aspiring entrepreneurs all over the country face them.
I faced them myself when I used to work with Bhukkad. The problems so faced propelled me to found Leegality, where our goal is to transform how businesses conduct paperwork.
All businesses use payments infrastructure for seamless digital payment processing today and I wondered, why can’t we bring that ease and convenience to documents?
Please tell us a little about your entrepreneurial journey
My entrepreneurial journey began at college. Along with my academics, I took passion projects here and there until I came across the challenges that all of us face with any banking process.
It is time-consuming and involves a lot of paperwork – paperwork that can be easily digitised for convenience which consumers can sign from the comfort of their homes.
I was intrigued. On investigating further, I found that paperwork still remains physical because of compliance issues like signing, stamping and more.
That is when I started building Leegality – a platform that offers comprehensive digital document infrastructure for businesses.
Through Leegality, businesses can deploy critical digital execution capabilities like eSign, Digital Stamping, Execution Automation, Sign Security, Storage, and more in a quick, easy and compliant way.
We have raised two rounds of funding to support our business growth, and today serve over 2000 businesses across India. We currently replace 2 million physical signatures per month.
Kindly brief us about Leegality, its specialisation, and the services that it offers
Modern transactions have increasingly become digital. Unfortunately, the document execution process related to agreements, forms, and other legal documentation is largely paper-driven, even for digital work, which is archaic in this digital age.
This physical process causes delays, increases costs, saps productivity, kills customer experience and is harmful to the environment.
We founded Leegality to eliminate this problem – through Leegality businesses can digitally transform paperwork execution with digital paperwork capabilities like eSign, Digital Stamping, Execution Automation, Sign Security, Storage, and more all available in a single unified platform.
Today, Leegality Document Infrastructure is deployed in over 2000 Indian businesses including group entities from 8 out of the top 10 banking conglomerates in India.
We recently raised USD 5 million from IIFL Fintech Fund and utilise the funds to accelerate customer acquisition, invest in product development, and rapidly enhance customer experience.
What inspired you to create a document infrastructure platform for banks and financial institutions?
Paperwork and paperwork execution is the core, foundational legal process that enables a BFSI company’s daily business.
Without executing paperwork, they cannot disburse loans and onboard customers and vendors etc. However, executing paperwork incurs huge costs – processing them takes days and weeks, requiring customers to travel and visit, and branch and field staff to spend hours doing mundane paperwork and tasks that otherwise could have been easily done digitally.
BFSI institutions also incur heavy logistical costs associated with printing, storage, transport, and the environment. Further, mistakes and damages can expose one to legal and regulatory risks.
We realised that if we can fix this singular problem in executing paperwork- we would be creating incredible business results for companies in a very critical sector of our economy.
A BFSI company that is liberated from paperwork can disburse loans quickly and widely, onboard customers/vendors faster and expand access to financial services conveniently. Imagine the positive second-order effects this can have on customers of these financial institutions!
How does your platform differ from existing document management systems in the market?
Other players in the document infrastructure space – domestic and foreign – suffer from 3 fatal flaws for the Indian market:
- They do not focus on compliance with Indian regulations
- They are operationally rigid – which does not work for Indian contracting workflows, and
- They do not facilitate digital transformation at scale – often facing implementation bottlenecks and lack of adoption in organisations that adopt them.
At Leegality this is different. We are hyper-focused on 3 key planks –
- A compliance-first approach
- Ensuring operational flexibility and depth that are needed for uniquely Indian workflows
- Ensuring that the product is built to overcome the internal inertia of our customer companies so that our customers can scale up usage quickly.
Most of our biggest clients today already had a competitor onboarded when we approached them. However, they were not able to see scalable use – so they decided to switch to Leegality.
How digital infrastructure has transformed paperwork and saved costs – carbon saving, increased productivity, money savings – especially in the BFSI sector.
In recent years, India has made significant progress in building its digital infrastructure. Government initiatives such as Digital India have enabled the widespread adoption of digital services across the country and boosted the adoption of digital infrastructure.
Initiatives such as Electronic Document Management, E-Governance, Electronic payments, and electronic signatures have enabled organisations to reduce, if not eliminate, the amount of paperwork they generate and handle. This has led to significant cost savings, improved efficiency, and increased transparency.
Leveraging the IT Act, we have built a ‘Made for India, for India’ SaaS solution that offers businesses a unified platform to digitise every layer of the paperwork journey – across verticals and use cases.
This means that electronic signatures, electronic stamp duty, document automation, document assembly, and more – can be brought under one roof.
Companies get a one-stop solution to digitally transform their paperwork processes across verticals and use cases.
How do you ensure the security and privacy of sensitive financial documents stored on your platform?
We are an ISO 27001-certified organisation and maintain the highest standard of security in our practices and our products.
We currently work with 200+ organisations in the heavily regulated BFSI sector. As part of their regulatory obligations, our clients in the BFSI sector have very strict information security requirements.
We have undergone more than 200 extraordinarily stringent information security audits (as part of the normal onboarding process with our customers) and have come out with flying colours on all.
What types of documents can be executed via your platform, and how do you ensure compliance with regulatory requirements?
You can use Leegality for any type of document. There are some narrow exceptions in Schedule I of the IT Act – but apart from that everything can be executed via Leegality. We ensure compliance with regulatory requirements through:
- Having our ears constantly on the ground – assessing new regulations as they come
- prioritising compliance as the core characteristic of every feature we build
- Fast, yet responsible product development to ensure robustness.
What was the inspiration behind turning into an entrepreneur?
To be honest, I always had the business bug. During college, I realised that I had a keen interest in solving problems, and I took on passion projects which aimed to solve some of these problems.
Whenever I would see a problem, I would want to solve it. The thrill of solving complex problems quickly keeps me going.
It also helped that I had several members of my extended family who were also involved in starting initiatives of their own. When inspiration exists within the family it’s not hard for the bug to rub off!
How are today’s digital customer journeys not truly digital?
India has seen a tremendous increase in digital adoption in recent years, but there are still areas where customer journeys are not entirely digital.
Limited digital infrastructure, digital illiteracy, distrust in digital transactions, and non-recognition of digital documents for legal purposes, are some of the challenges we face on the path to becoming truly digital.
To address these challenges, government awareness drives for Digital India have been leading the way to spread awareness, dispel misinformation, and protect the public from online fraud.
However, private tech solutions often overlook this – and cater to a limited segment. We at Leegality have made a mindful, conscious choice to avoid this mistake and have built-in ‘accessibility’ capabilities that make our interface accessible by any Indian, anywhere.
As an example, we recently launched Local Language eSign Journeys – giving companies the ability to offer eSign interfaces in Indian languages other than English.
This allows institutions like Banks and MFIs the ability to offer digital journeys, meeting the customers wherever they are.
How do you ensure that your platform is scalable and can handle the increasing volumes of documents generated by banks and financial institutions?
We ensure scalability through a consistent and dedicated focus on the product backend. We are constantly anticipating future needs and deploying capacity right now to serve future unmet needs. There is no shortcut to solving this challenge apart from installing more capacity and resources
What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Early on in the journey, we started building an eNACH product, which is an acronym for Electronic National Automated Clearing House.
It was a deviation from our core solution and resulted in a big mistake – as it diluted our focus. This mistake costed us to push back our product development by months.
We learned a lesson and the mistake led us to the realisation that we need to deeply focus on the problem of paperwork execution and solve it comprehensively, rather than spreading ourselves too thin.
What are your success tips for young and aspiring entrepreneurs?
My first tip would be to think long and hard. The perceived glamour that comes with entrepreneurship is a myth.
The job of being an entrepreneur is hard, gruelling, and messy and destroys any semblance of work-life balance. So, think long and hard about whether you want this before you commit.
If you still decide to go ahead then I would say a) Develop first principles thinking b) Focus heavily on the “jobs to be done” of whatever you are building c) Hire a great team – without them, your idea is dead on arrival.
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