Kim Chan is a lawyer and he wants to make our legal lives easier. With his company, DocPro, he has made a website that provides everyone with free templates of legal and professional documents, which means we don’t have to scratch our heads anymore whenever we sit down to write a commonly used document.
At DocPro, Kim Chan knows that finding “good document templates” on the internet could be difficult at times. For example, just searching for a lease template will show you hundreds of ads and irrelevant search results before you could even find one that might suit your needs.
Kim Chan adds that the worse thing is that these online documents might not even fall under your jurisdiction, since most of them fall under US law. All these challenges have pushed him to start DocPro.com, with the mission of providing free legal and professional document templates to everyone in the world.
What is Kim Chan’s mission for DocPro? He wants to “democratize documentation.” With DocPro, individual users or businesses could access high-quality and affordable documents. They could form a community where each of them can “find/request/pool/share” their files, which top legal professionals would review and made into new templates. Finally, the website wants to “improve documents management, negotiation, execution, execution and retention process” using modern technology.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Kim Chan: I graduated in the late 90s, when the internet was just taking off, and I have always believed in bringing law online. At that time, I have been offered a job at a top international law firm and it would be an enormous opportunity cost to give up a highly paid job as a lawyer to pursue something uncertain. At the end, I opted for the safer route — I worked for top law firms and major international banks, thinking that I will make enough money to start a LegalTech business in 10 years time. Then I got married and have kids, and my business plan has again been delayed. It took me 20 years to gain sufficient financial security to start DocPro.
Jerome Knyszewski: What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Kim Chan: Contrary to popular belief, it is not easy to find good document templates online. Let’s say you are searching for a lease, you need to go through hundreds of ads and search results before you can find a suitable word template. What’s more, most of the documents online are under US law which may not be applicable in your jurisdiction. To make matter worse, you have downloaded a landlord friendly version which may put you at a disadvantage as a tenant.
LegalTech has been around for 20 years but there doesn’t seem to be any well-known player that has revolutionized the legal industry. Unlike other sectors, there is no household name like Amazon, Airbnb or Uber that people will instinctively recognize when talking about LegalTech. Lawyers are pretty much doing the same thing as when they were 20 years ago, charging thousands of dollars per hour and billing people in 6 minutes blocks. Their efficiency has not improved much since the advent of emails and legal database.
DocPro hopes to make a difference by making documents more accessible and affordable for users. We are providing variations of document favouring different parties instead of a one size fits all approach. Rather than confining our business to one country, we try to cater for all common law jurisdictions by having our documents drafted generally and a proprietary engine to select the right governing law and jurisdiction for the document.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Kim Chan: There was a movie in my generation called “The Field of Dreams” and the motto was “Build it and they will come”. DocPro was initially built on this premises with the creation of more than 1,000+ commonly used document templates, but there was no traffic initially. The motto certainly does not work for the internet with billions of webpages competing for visitors.
As I am confident that with thousands of good, useful legal documents reviewed by lawyers that are available for download, people will come. I believe that we just need to do a little more marketing. However, we can spend a lot of money on Google and Facebook ads, but this would not be economical for DocPro as a startup since the costs would almost certainly outweigh the benefits. As such, we have mainly been working on SEO. We have been trying to produce the best document templates possible focusing on less competitive keywords. So far our suite of documents are doing extremely well with less competitive keywords as we beat the competition on the quality of documents.
Jerome Knyszewski: So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Kim Chan: Our traffic has grown exponentially in the past 6 months and we are on track to becoming successful and cash flow positive in our first year of launch. We do not need to rely on fund raising to survive the COVID crisis.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Kim Chan: Initially I was going to use the domain “BlueSites”, until a friend of mine asked me why I am quitting my job to set up a porn site. I thought of the colour blue as conveying trust and reliability and was unaware of the connotation of “blue” also being referred to sexually explicit content in “blue movies”. So I had to quickly switch to another name.
I was struggling between DocPro.com, which was taken and costed thousands of dollars to buy, and a lesser name that costed just a few dollars to register. Then I remembered Jack Ma paid USD 10,000 for the Alibaba domain name (an astronomical sum at the time and more than half of his net worth back in the 90s), I figured that the marketing effect from an easy to remember domain name is well worth the money.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a few examples of tools or software that you think can dramatically empower emerging eCommerce brands to be more effective and more successful?
Kim Chan: Trello is a good way to assign tasks to people and set specific targets when you are remote working as a team.
Airtable is a good way to keep track of things to do and follow up with people and matters.
Ahrefs is a useful SEO tool to find keywords and optimise your site to attract traffic.
DocPro if you need legal documents and you do not have the resources to go to a law firm.
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies an eCommerce business should use to increase conversion rates?
Kim Chan: You really need to track the users as soon as they come onto your site to see what they look at and when they drop out. If possible, do a user survey to see if the reason why people bounced from your page and improve the UX. For example, if the main reason why users leave is because they cannot find what they are looking for, you may need to rearrange your site to make it more user friendly.
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that an eCommerce business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Kim Chan: Build trust in the DocPro brand is obviously very important for a legal documents site. Google is also emphasizing on EAT — expertise, authority, and trustworthiness of websites in its search ranking. So creating a trusted and beloved brand will not only improve the conversion rate, but also the traffic to your website.
We have been focusing on building up the brand and EAT of DocPro through the following ways:
- Expertise — all our documents have been reviewed by lawyers qualified in major common law jurisdictions.
- Authority — we have been doing many legal articles as well as responding to interviews of credible media on HARO to improve the authority of our websites.
- Trustworthiness — we are partnering with other trustworthy institutions (e.g. universities) to build the trustworthiness of our site. We are very prompt in responding to the needs of our customers, which also increase our trustworthiness.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful e-commerce business? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Product — the most important element is to create a product that people would want. You should do users study first before actually creating the product. I made the mistake of doing a product what I think people want instead of what user actually want in the first version of DocPro. I have to spend months revamping the site and the business model to turn it into something users want (base on UX study).
- Scalability — the most important element of running a successful e-commerce business is scalability. After all, that is what e-commerce is all about. In the legal tech space, some of our competitors are offering tailored made legal documents and charge their customers on a per hour basis. This is essentially going back to the old law firm model instead of disrupting the current model.
- SEO Marketing — the phrase “build it and they will come” certainly does not apply on the internet. You can spend a lot of money on Google and Facebook ads, but this would not be economical for DocPro as we are offering our documents at minimal price and the costs would almost certainly outweigh the benefits. So if you are starting with a tight budget, SEO marketing is probably your best bet.
- Cross Marketing — it will greatly help your online business enormously if you find an already established platform that is willing to do some cross marketing with you. In our case, we are partnering with AppSumo to provide bulk discount to AppSumo users. The increase our revenue from this partnership is substantial and raise our profile amongst small and medium enterprises.
- Brand Building — as per my response above, it is very important to build your brand and the associated EAT — expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. DocPro relies on a high EAT to get (i) users to convert and use our products; and (ii) higher ranking on Google.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Kim Chan: You can sign up to DocPro.com and read our latest news on:
You can also follow us on the following social media:
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!