Headquarters: Miami; Columbus, OH
Concept: Viewabill is a cloud-based technology that allows clients using service professionals such as attorneys and accountants to see their hourly billing and time entries in real time. That way, when the bill arrives, the client already knows exactly what to expect. No surprises. No sticker shock.
Story: Co-founders David Schottenstein, a 29-year-old Bal Harbour serial entrepreneur who founded and sold custom clothier Astor & Black, and Robbie Friedman, an attorney in Ohio, have been friends since childhood. They began working together as attorney-client a few years ago and were inspired to fix the industry’s antiquated billing system. Attorney, author and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who has defended high-profile clients such as O.J. Simpson and Mike Tyson, was so impressed that he became a Viewabill co-founder.
Launched: March 2013
Management team: David Schottenstein (co-founder and co-CEO); Robbie Friedman (co-founder and co-CEO); Alan Dershowitz (co-founder/advisor); Daniel Hoffman (chief technology officer)
No. of employees: about 20
Financing: $5 million from private investors
Recent milestones reached: Viewabill has recently integrated with more than 100 law firms, as well as large accounting firms, and has more than 200 in the pipeline. In South Florida, the company has already integrated with the largest firms, Schottenstein said, and is particularly excited about its new relationship with Greenspoon Marder. Users currently number more than 10,000.
Biggest startup challenge: Law firms are not used to this type of transparency. “Our biggest challenge is convincing them this is a positive step and will tremendously benefit their client relationships. Some firms react quickly; others won’t adapt until clients demand it,” said Schottenstein. “If a firm values relationships with its clients, there is no issue.”
Next step: To continue building strategic alliances. “Our team is emphasizing that clients don’t need to wait on their law and accounting firms to offer Viewabill. They can sign up and request it at any time.”
Advice for next step: Dershowitz, who lives in Miami Beach part of the year, believes it’s just a matter of time for tradition-steeped law firms to come around. “We need to keep asking why not?” said Dershowitz, adding that by offering transparency and accountability, it’s a win-win for clients and the firms. “This will become the norm in the next few years. I like to encourage young entrepreneurs who have good ideas — and this is a good idea.”
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