Getting to know The Pitch finalists: Evichat

By Yves Faguy April 17, 201817 April 2018

 

As part of a weekly series leading up to The Pitch 2018, the legal innovation startup competition put on by the Canadian Bar Association and Law Made in partnership with LexisNexis, we’re publishing interviews with the five selected finalists to get to know them better.  This week’s Q&A is with Puneet Tiwari (featured in the above video), CEO and co-founder of Evichat, which offers a virtual legal platform dedicated to improving access to justice for regular people.

CBA National: What are the origins of Evichat?

Puneet Tiwari : After law school one of my first summer gigs was working for Shelby Austin at ATD Legal Services, before it was purchased by Deloitte. That was my first exposure to e-discovery. I thought, “Wow, there’s a huge industry here that I didn’t even know about.” After, I articled at a very small firm in the West End of Toronto and then I was hired on. There I slowly realized that almost every single client was bringing me some kind of evidence on their mobile devices — they were sending me screenshots of text messages, or forwarding me 20 emails on a Sunday night, because their boss was harassing them or whatnot. It was just you know data from their mobile phones. I thought to myself, “there has to be a better way to get this.” One screenshot is manageable, but when you get to 20 screenshots, it no longer is. So I tried to look for a solution online that I could pay for, but couldn’t find one. And then I got together with my co-founder who’s a Waterloo engineer. I pitched the idea to him and he said he could build this. And here we are.

N: And so Evichat collects all types of mobile data?

PT: Yeah, so Evichat is tool for lawyers to collect, review, process, redact all types of IM chat evidence from your client’s mobile devices. That can be text messages, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Slack or even a Gmail email thread. Anything that rests from the cloud or a mobile device, we can collect that so lawyers can review it easily, quickly, so they’re not wasting time on trying to search through screenshot of a conversation, which aren’t searchable. The lawyer just has to ask the client to download our app onto their mobile device, the client then selects the contact and the message thread that they want to send to their lawyer and they hit send. And that’s it, that’s the last time the client uses the app. On the lawyer’s side, we’ve built an e-discovery and light platform, where the lawyer can log on, see all the messages and just scroll like they do on a mobile device.

N: And you are mainly targeting small or bigger firms?

PT: I got the idea when I was at a small firm, thinking maybe large firms have some crazy tools they can use. But what about the family lawyers, the employment lawyers, or the construction litigation lawyers, who deal with this kind of stuff daily? Think of all the construction contracts – like changing your hardwood floors – that are formed and amended by text message. So, initially it was for those smaller clients. But what happened was that we started getting inbound requests from the Seven Sister firms and large firms out of the United States; and that’s something we weren’t expecting. And so, after speaking with those potential clients, we found that large firms are also inundated with this kind of information and they don’t have a solution either, to collect evidence from mobile devices. And most of the time, what they do is simply ignore that a mobile device exists and not collect any evidence at all from it. We thought “hey, this is a great opportunity for us.” So now we have an offering for small solo firms and we have another offering for the big law firms.

N: What gives you optimism about the future of the legal industry?

PT: What gives me optimism is when you speak to certain law firms; they’re beginning to get it. Some of the bigger law firms here seem to get it that they need to use technology. Why they weren’t using it better before, I don’t know, but now they’re getting onboard. We’re definitely seeing some law firms that are tech ready in every way you can think of and I think that’s very positive.

N: What give you cause for concern?

PT: I would say that when you talk to a lot of the medium law firms, they say there’s no place for technology, it’s all BS, and it’s a pen and paper industry. And what’s concerning is that it’s not just the senior partners saying that. The younger associates at these firms feel the same way, and it’s just because that’s how they’ve been trained and they’ve developed that mentality there. I don’t care what industry you’re in; if you make those types of comments about, your company is going nowhere.

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Vitals

Founded in: 2016

Based in: Toronto, On

The team: Co-founders and CEO Puneet Tiwari, co-founder and CTO Nilesh Pandey

 

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