Avoteca at Global Legal Hackathon. The Story Behind.
30s birthday and first year in my own startup. Yup, that's me in 2020. Big deal, right? And how did all start? No, I won't go in the cliché of I've always wanted to be a lawyer. Neither was I thinking that I would have my own business. I was an ordinary kid, with a normal Balcanic life, with grades more than average, being around the top 10 in the class, but not really a genius. You know, that top ten in which there's a massive difference between the first two and the rest of the world. I was among the rest of the world.
However, I think that I've always liked to fix things, to help people, to find solutions to problems. I didn't really know what that meant, though.
Fast forward, and we reach the moment of truth, the moment when I finally received the title of Lawyer. Meanless to say that I didn't really know what to do with it. Found a job, been pretty good on it (at least, that's what I hope), and, as always, I still wanted more. More solutions to the cranky world of law.
You see, I am a positive person, usually full of life and generally happy; unless you put me in a court with 80% "Gods" and 20% solvers. The law should be more about solvers, and less about "Gods". I wish I saw more people trying to find solutions to problems than what we see today.
Facing myself with the lack of infrastructure for the young generation of lawyers and seeing that no one knew anymore where to find competent legal professionals, I took the problem into my own hands and did what I knew the best. Find solutions.
That's when Avoteca project came to life. That's when I decided that if no one does anything, things will not going to change. We will continue to complain, and they will continue to pretend we don't.
There's nothing more beautiful than seeing your idea taking wings and starting to fly. I applied to some funding and waited for the results. In that excitement, however, we realised that, as the project was born outside of Romania, we had never tested it in Romania. So, I decided to do some research on my own, to find out about all national legal tech events. The results were not very gladdening at that time. However, one line caught my eyes and made me think that even in Romania, things started to move in the right direction. Global Legal Hackathon had a Romanian edition also.
Things happen for a reason. And they appear when you expect the less, and many times, when you need it the most. For us, it was the perfect timing to be back in our country. We had an idea, validated it only with some questionnaire online, and needed more input and feedback to know how to move on. And the GLH2019 was organising in February, two weeks before we planned to return to Romania.
As a new entrepreneur, entering the startup world, I encourage you dearly to participate in this year's edition. I want to leave you with five lessons I grabbed from GLH, that, hopefully, will determine you to go for it:
1. When open-minded people gather in a room with the sole purpose to advance the legal world, magic happens, and the world becomes a brighter place.
I can't tell you how happy I am that these kinds of events are happening in Romania. The vibrant atmosphere from GLH gives you shivers. It makes you understand that you are part of something bigger. We are the only hope to make ideas happen. No one is coming to do it for us. And the fact that we want and strive for the same purpose means only that we are evolving. Our law is changing. Our legal market is developing. Our legal struggle is intensifying. And when the law sides with its citizens, everyone benefits from it.
2. Be open to every idea, people are there to help you.
There will be so many amazing people out there that will want to help you. Many of them will come with top valuable advice. Keep them in mind when you continue your project, weight them very well and place them into your objectives thoroughly. Some will fit in the first year, some later, maybe some not at all. But the fact that you know what the others are thinking and how are they perceive your product provides you with invaluable feedback.
3. Don't lose confidence, you are there to learn.
Ok, we need to be clear on something. This is a hackathon. Meaning, a lot of work in a short amount of time. Pressure? Yes. Thrill? Yes. Fun? Definitely, yes. But isn't this why you are here in the first place? No one says it's going to be easy, but you'll be implicated in a lot of meaningful activities. There will be a moment when you will feel discouraged, maybe not everyone responding as you wish to your idea. But hey, better now than after spending thousands of euros into the company. And don't worry. That doesn't mean that you will have to let go entirely to your idea. You'll just need to carve it, make it even better. Everyone is there to help you succeed, so open your eyes and years, take everything objectively and put all that passion into your product.
4. Mysterious and beautiful things can happen when you work with compatible people.
If you meet the compatible team for you, no need to worry about everything anymore. Even in those down moments, irritating disagreements or annoying discussions, things will turn out just fine, because everybody is there to make beautiful things. There are going to be tensioned moments, remember, you are there to learn. Even how to overcome those moments.
5. Even if you're not on the same track with others, open your mind, and you will learn so much more.
I will say it. I had mentors that I didn't feel that we had a catch. But hilariously, those were the ones whose pieces of advice I listened to the most :) Because I was there to learn. I was there to gain insights on how to manage a business and how to function in a team. And why not, how to handle stressful moments and incompatibilities. In time, I realised that those mentors wanted the best of me. And all that guidance had a significant impact on my future. So, don't put your head in the ground, push forward, open your heart and mind and listen carefully. You don't know when the best support, advice, tip, person will pass by. Don't miss this train!
What do you think, are you going to join me in Global Legal Hackathon 2020? It's from 6 to 8 March, so not so much time to waste! This year I'll be a mentor. One of those mentors that will strive to advise in the best possible manner to advance your idea.
Ana-Maria Drăgănuță Briard
25 February 2020