Meet Raad Ahmed, 30, founder and CEO at LawTrades.com. He is based in New York City.
Other social media: instagram.com/r44d
Education: University at Buffalo Law School, 2013, Juris Doctor. St. John’s University, 2009, Bachelor of Science, New York.
Are you a lawyer? Nope.
Is this your first start-up? This is my second startup. In law school, I launched a web app for Facebook called myFBCoverPhoto.com that allowed people to customize their Facebook profiles via cover photos. At its peak, it grew 30M hits per month and I turned it into a high six figure business. I eventually built one on the Twitter API too but stopped working on both after founding LawTrades.
What problem does LawTrades.com solve? LawTrades.com is a legal marketplace that enables businesses and General Counsels at 10 to 200 employee companies to hire lawyers and paralegals for one-time projects or on-going work to quickly scale their legal operations.
We’ve built an intelligent pricing and matching algorithm that figures out the optimal cost and legal expertise needed for your project based on thousands of data points. This level of insight allows us to create a system where people receive high-quality and transparent legal work while legal professionals get paid for what they’re worth. We want both sides to succeed.
LawTrades leverages technology to economically empower hundreds of legal professionals around the U.S. to unlock and monetize their degree, expertise, and passions to become legal entrepreneurs.
How did you come up with the name? I picked “Law” for obvious reasons. I wanted to build something to improve the legal system and focus on only that sector. “Trades” represents a marketplace—a place where people can exchange goods and services.
Do you have any patents? No.
What inspired you to pursue this startup? If I became a lawyer I wanted to travel and monetize my law degree online by working when I want, with who I want, and as much (or as little) as I want at any given moment. So I think it came down to solving for work/life balance in the legal sector and trying to capitalize on the future of work and the internet connected global workforce.
Do you have funding yet? We raised around $4M in venture capital to date. That was led by Draper Associates (investors in Telsa, Robinhood, Skype) and participation from Angel List, Social Capital, and 500 Startups.
What is your biggest challenge re: the start-up? Making the right product decisions and interating fast enough.
What do you need right now? In six months? In a year? Right now: Client-side beta testers for our version 2 product and a remote content manager. Six months: iOS engineers. We’re currently web-only. A year: Experienced enterprise sales managers.
Where do you expect to be in 10 years? Still employed by LawTrades hopefully and our platform having a larger global impact.
What have you learned that you wish you knew five years ago? Key performance indicators (KPI) and metrics and generally irrelevant until you have product market fit. Focus more on qualitative feedback and be okay with growing slower in order to build a superior product experience.
Who most influenced you and how? I don’t have many friends that do startups, so instead I read about those kinds of people. I would say probably Brian Chesky from Airbnb. He was a non-technical founder like myself and I can resonate with his story of trying to get airbnb off the ground while getting rejected like a million times.
What two people are/were your most important mentors?
1: Our earliest investors, particularly the people at 500 Startups who helped us understand the difference with Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) and revenue, among avoiding other rookie startup mistakes.
2: My 1L legal research and writing professor, Samantha Moppet, how to be succinct with my words and actions.
What book changed your life? Homo Deus – A Brief History of Tomorrow, by Yuval Noah Harari. It will make you think of future technological progress (Artificial Intelligence/genetic engineering) and its effect on the broader society in ways you had not thought before.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs? Slow down and stop putting a deadline on everything.
What are you afraid of? Making the wrong bet on how we think the future will shape out.
What are you most proud of? My houseplant that has been alive for almost six months now.
Your dream career if you were not a lawyer or entrepreneur? An Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) investigator.
What does your workspace look like? (Borrowed from Sam Gosling.) Clean and mostly empty. On my desk you’ll find a 27” iMac, Bowers & Wilkins headphones, a legal pad, a muji pen, and an oil diffusor to help me concentrate.
Favorite musician or group, and why? Bad Religion. I think they’re the best punk rock band to utilize three-part vocal harmonies. Their lyrics are also fascinating—covering topics like philosophy, society, racism, politics, mental disorder, media and more. Plus their lead singer Greg Griffin is a professor at UCLA.
What’s your favorite vacation destination? I don’t know if I have a favorite vacation destination spot yet because I generally have visited most places only once. But I have been to Miami a few times. So probably that. It’s a short and convenient flight from New York City and I love Cuban food.
Favorite food: Shake Shack when I’m in the east coast. In-n-out when I’m in the west coast.
Favorite quote: Trade money for time, not time for money. You’re going to run out of time first. —Naval Ravikant
What’s your mantra? Fewer things done better.
Who would you want sitting next to you if you got stuck for three hours on the tarmac in a 737? Kanye West—I would love to debate him for a few hours.
Monica Bay is a Fellow at CodeX: The Stanford Center Center for Legal Informatics, and a freelance journalist. She is a member of the California Bar. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @MonicaBay.
Raad Ahmed: Steven Duarte