Natig Mammadov, 2012 Executive MBA alumnus, has used his Individual Project from the programme to found TransactViaLegal (TNTL), a digital marketplace for B2B legal services.
When Natig Mammadov joined the Executive MBA cohort in 2012, he was of counsel of global law firm Baker & McKenzie in Baku, Azerbaijan. He enrolled on the programme in Cambridge to grow as a professional and advance his strategic thinking with aspirations of becoming an entrepreneur. As an M&A lawyer, he was already creating business-orientated legal products to guide businesses in structuring their acquisitions, evaluating targets, identifying risks and determining an adequate purchase price – ultimately delivering cost-savings to shareholders. But it was during his Individual Project on the EMBA programme that he focused on legal technology and the concept for his company was born.
“My Individual Project was research into opportunities to create an alternative legal marketplace in an attempt to find a solution to the problems in the traditional one,” says Natig, a native of Azerbaijan now based in London. “These days, we see more innovative technologies disrupting the traditional legal market, such as online-based legal resources and services, law blogs and crowd-sourced legal services and various collaborative platforms.”
Natig concluded that there was a market opportunity aimed at harnessing the power of the internet to shift leverage to clients. He created TransactViaLegal (TNTL), which enables competitive online bidding by lawyers for clients’ business. The company was founded in March 2015 in London.
“The traditional legal marketplace has been seen mostly as a seller’s market,” says Natig. “The 2008 economic downturn has shaken the world, dramatically changing the traditional legal marketplace and has accelerated certain market forces and shifts towards creating an alternative, digital environment.”
TNTL’s business model is based around offering start-ups, SMEs and other entrepreneurs an easy way to find a UK qualified solicitor through online competitive bidding. Client members can request legal assistance using the TNTL platform, and legal firms can then bid on the work by submitting proposals that clients can compare.
Member lawyers’ areas of expertise include arbitration and litigation, company formation, competition, environmental permitting, planning permission and intellectual property. They bid for work using a fixed fee proposal, says TNTL’s website.
Lawyers are given three business days to submit a proposal following an invitation by client members to participate in bids – and the proposal must state the scope of services offered, terms of engagement, deadline for delivering the legal services and a fixed quote for the services offered. Businesses sign up to the service for free, while law firms submitting proposals that result in an accepted bid and retention by the client to perform the legal work pay TNTL a percentage fee on their fixed quote to cover marketing and administration costs.
Natig says “speed and convenience” are the keys to his business model. “Clients don’t chase legal firms, but instead have them come to you. After a customer completes a simple request-for-help form, member firms will respond and you can select the one that suits you best.” The service is bound by the same rules of lawyer-client confidentiality as traditional law firms.
Natig says the lessons he learned on marketing strategy on the Cambridge Executive MBA programme have been a very strong “foundation” for building TNTL – but acknowledges that he has a continuing “learning curve” as the business develops.
“One of the biggest challenges that all marketplaces are facing is continuing to create value for the demand and supply sides, while building a two-sided marketplace,” he says. “The key is to create an ecosystem by engaging as many strategic partners as possible which is a challenging but very engaging journey.”