In January, 26, 2016, Stephen Kane participated in the CodeX Blog’s “Startup Snapshot” series, answering a lot of questions about his startup. Today, Kane—now 38—revisits our blog for “Take Two.” Kane is now the founder, CEO and Board Chair of FairClaims (née ArbiClaims). A member of the California bar, Kane is based in downtown Los Angeles. He is now also a CodeX Fellow, working on a research project, “Taking Arbitration Mainstream” which also draws on insights and data from FairClaims.
“I am happy to report my startup is finally my day job,” sais Kane.”I started spending an hour a day on FairClaims and I now I spend every waking moment on it.”
We turn the “Take Two” questions to Kane!
What problem does FairClaims solve? We make it significantly easier to resolve small claims disputes. Our users don’t need an attorney and since FairClaims is efficient and cost effective, we improve access to justice. As it stands, some 90 percent of people who need an attorney can’t afford one—or don’t hire one—or don’t want to go through the trouble of litigation. Whether it be a business or individual, there’s a dire need for more efficient dispute resolution.
How did you come up with the new name? One of our advisors said I came up with it — and I’m convinced he did. Which probably means it’s meant to be. In any case, we decided to pick the name FairClaims because we want to commit to fairness in every aspect of what we do.
Is FairClaims currently on the market? Yes. We have a few offerings now:
• Digital arbitration which costs around $225 to $275 per claim.
• Mediated chat that costs about $150 per claim.
• FairChat (our smart settlement tool) which costs around $5.00 to $15.00 per claim, depending on volume.
Do you have funding yet? Yes. We’ve raised about $2M to date, mainly from VCs ($1.8M from Fika, Greycroft and Crosslink) — but also from super angels including Brian Liu, one of the founders of LegalZoom.
How has your life changed since getting funding? We work even harder now knowing we have a real shot. We view it as a rare and amazing opportunity but only a beginning. The biggest change for the business is we’re able to recruit top talent. That’s made all the difference in the world.
What is your biggest challenge? Staying focused. I geek out on this stuff big time, and it’s tempting to chase all sorts of interesting opportunities. But I know we can’t do everything at once. So I have to constantly remind myself to keep growth and focus in proper balance.
Will robots replace human arbitrators? Not a chance. There is no robot that can imitate good ol’ fashioned human wisdom. And no robot can make someone truly feel heard which is a huge component of what we do (giving people “their day”). Instead, we use technology for smart settlement tools and to streamline mediation and arbitration. But human adjudicators are here to stay as far as I’m concerned.
How do you keep your team motivated? We screen for people who are excited about our mission and connect everything we do to accomplishing that mission.
What do you need right now? In six months? In a year? Talent. Nothing matters more than having the right team. I was fortunate to find a great co-founder/early team. But it’s still essential to get the best, most motivated, talented people we can possibly get. That is true now, in six months, a year, and beyond.
What two mentors are influencing your current work? Mark Goines and Mark Goldstein changed the FairClaims trajectory and have been outstanding mentors. They both believe in what we’re doing and aggressively challenge us to do better. Not to mention they’re incredibly qualified and experienced
What has surprised you in the last two years? How much lawyers of all stripes love what we’re doing—whether in house, outside counsel, law professors, law students, arbitrators, judges or otherwise. That is quite telling, but was surprising, given that our industry isn’t known for embracing change.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs? If you’re not obsessed, find something else. If you’re obsessed be grateful for finding your life’s purpose.
Compiled by Monica Bay, a CodeX Fellow and freelance journalist. She is a member of the California bar. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @MonicaBay.
Photo courtesy of Stephen Kane.
Cover image and other images: Clipart.com