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How I went from illegal to pitching, in less than 24h

A gossip column

Hi nerds -

I salute you from Miami with juicy gossip.

Last week, I went from “this is not legally viable” to pitching in front of 200 people - in less than 24h.

Roller-coaster is an understatement. Here’s the raw juice.

⏮️ the background

Last Tuesday, I was selected out of 340 companies to pitch alongside 7 other founders in the Built in Miami Demo Day.

= Built in Miami is an incubator program hosted by Venture Miami and the City of Miami - where people from all backgrounds and industries turn an idea into a startup in 18 weeks.

Within 3 months, I built and published an MVP, grew a waitlist to 60+ people, and interviewed countless to-be-immigrants and lawyers.

I turned an idea and into a viable startup - except for one tiny thing: every time I tried taking clients in, lawyers told me it was not legally viable.

🧃 the juice

Here’s why it isn’t legal to build a customer-facing legaltech product in the US:

  • A non-lawyer can’t hire a lawyer to work a case for someone else

  • A lawyer can only work for another lawyer

  • A non-lawyer can’t partner with a lawyer or get referral fees

TLDR - the only way to service immigrants is to be a legal firm or sell a product to legal firms - which, from a unit economics perspective (and a passion one!) is not as attractive.

That’s when - 3 hours before our last pitch practice - I spoke to Joel.

Joel is an immigration lawyer turned software engineer I met during an online writing course a few years ago. He mentioned I should check out Utah’s regulatory sandbox.

Me shocked and with crazy eyes researching Utah, a few minutes after my conversation with Joel!

👩🏽‍⚖️ wtf is a regulatory sandbox

Utah’s Supreme Court passed legislation that enables legal innovation through a regulatory sandbox.

A regulatory sandbox is a “regulatory experiment” of sorts, where non-lawyers are able to partner with lawyers leveraging software for customers’ legal advice.

And because immigration law is federal, we can leverage it to build the first end-to-end immigration platform specifically for global talent!

Example of another immigration company Utah granted permission already!

⚾️ the pitch

This legal finding changed everything.

In less than 24 hours, I reorganized every pixel in those slides and transformed my pitch almost entirely.

With ~200 people in attendance, I stood up on stage and sold the vision for what I had, until then, been shipping mostly in private.


👩🏻‍🏫 lessons

With every stressful occasion, there’s always lessons:

  • Arbitrary deadlines are needle-movers. Run towards them, not from them.

  • To build a legaltech product requires to fall in love with the legal, beyond the technical product feasibility.

  • My public speaking experience is a powerful competitive advantage, especially when other things are bound to be changing fast.

  • The most important skill to building a successful startup is grit.

  • Validation behind Get You There only keeps growing. It’s economically viable, technically feasibly, and emotionally rewarding.

Thank you for reading - always down to connecting over juicy ideas.

If any of these resonate, reply to this email and would love to chat!

See you on cyberspace,

Jules 🤸🏻

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