DIYlaw is Nigeria’s foremost legal technology company offering implied and quality legal services and information to entrepreneurs. The services range from business registration, legal documents, access to legal resources, and a lawyer directory with lawyers classified by region and practice areas. It’s a one-stop online hub with easy-to-access, transparent legal expertise at affordable rates, which solves a critical pain point for many Nigerian entrepreneurs.
Ayiba’s Precious Obiabunmo had a chat with one of the co-founders Funkola Odeleye about the high and low moments of DIYLaw’s journey. This NextGen Series is in partnership with the Concordia Summit.
DIYLawNG will be five this year, what has been the highest high and lowest low throughout the journey?
We have had many highs and lows in the last 5 years, but I guess it’s all part of the journey and we are earning our stripes. One of the highs that sticks out is our very first order. It was our first day, we had launched our platform stealthily and were still thinking of how to make the big announcement and then we got a notification that someone had purchased a service. It was so exciting and it gave us validation that there was a market out there waiting for our services.
I’ll say that this pandemic has created one of the lowest lows for us as with so many other businesses, but there are lessons that we are learning from it. We are learning to be proactive and reactive at the same time and to be resourceful with downtime.
Our entrepreneurial journey has been filled with highs and lows. Specifically, Covid-19 has taught us to be resourceful with downtime.
How did you meet your co-founder: Odunoluwa Longe? What is one thing you were looking for in a co-founder that Odunoluwa has in abundance? How does that quality complement with your style?
Side note: I have two co-founders (Odun and Bola).
Odun and I met at university, however she was two years ahead of me. Some years later, we wound up working together at an investment bank and we constantly bounced ideas off one another for providing legal services tailored to startups. We then quit our jobs to make our ideas a reality.
I won’t say I was looking out for any qualities or even for a co-founder at all, but our synergy was great. Every time we sat together or discussed, we were always in sync, thinking of grand ideas and solutions to everyday problems and it naturally progressed to us starting businesses together. Odun is a problem solver; her passion for entrepreneurs is very visible and genuine.
I imagine Nigeria is a difficult market for doing business. If you could change one thing about your operating environment, what would it be? Who do you think needs to be part of that change?
One thing I would love to change is the lack of infrastructure. It is unfortunate that we have to create our own power, struggle with epileptic internet connections, spend hours in traffic, to name a few. These are things that we shouldn’t have to deal with if our governments rise up to their responsibilities.
So much of what makes a successful startup comes from a talented team and good leadership. However, what external input would you credit some of DIYLaw’s success to?
Beyond our leadership and team’s input, I credit a lot of our success to our business partners and our early backers – The Hague Institute for the Innovation of Law (HiiL) who gave us a grant in the first few months of starting up, as well as valuable lessons through their acceleration program.
Funkola Odeleye is the co-founder and CEO at DIYLaw and also the Corporate-Commercial and Intellectual Property Lead at The Longe Practice LP (TLP) – an entrepreneur focused law practice. She has a background in commercial and corporate law firm practice with years of in-house counsel experience in investment banking. Funkola’s legal experience prior to founding TLP and DIYLaw cuts across capital markets, investment advisory, compliance and securities.
Funkola has a Masters in Finance and Financial Law from the School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London in addition to her LLB from the Lagos State University and BL from the Nigerian Law School. She was the 2019 Sub-Saharan winner and Global Finalist of the Entrepreneurial Award of the British Council Study UK Alumni Award. She is an 2019 Obama Africa Leader, an Innovating Justice Fellow of The Hague Institute for the Innovation of Law (HiiL) and a Cartier Women’s Initiative 2020 Fellow. Funkola believes that entrepreneurship is the most sustainable solution to unemployment and she is passionate about mentoring and developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nigeria. She keeps a food blog and loves to cook.
This Next Gen Series Interview is in partnership with the Concordia Summit.