Aydin Bonabi, 33, graduated from Stetson University’s law school in 2010 and found himself struggling to find a job. Because of the 2008 recession, the legal market was still poor and it was difficult for recent law school graduates to find work.
However, Bonabi noticed that people had just as many, if not more, legal issues.
According to Bonabi’s business plan for Jurbid that he submitted for the Miami Herald’s Business Plan Challenge, 80 percent of legal needs in the U.S. are unmet. Bonabi is the chief executive officer for Jurbid, a legal services website.
“Luckily I ended up finding a job, and I was OK, but this idea kept running through my mind through the years to come. In 2013, I really started my research, and last year, I started full time,” Bonabi said.
Jurbid, which Bonabi and his team hope to launch in the next month, is a website that will connect clients with lawyers in the most affordable way possible. The company has already done beta testing with clients and lawyers to perfect the technology. Jurbid took second place in the Challenge’s FIU Track.
Because of its altruistic mission of trying to both bridge the litigation gap and make it easier for lawyers to find clients, Jurbid is classified as a public benefit corporation.
“[Altruism] is what the legal profession is. I know there’s a negative image of it, but this is what you are taught, to give back to society, and that’s part of Jurbid’s mission,” said David Johns, Jurbid’s vice president of business development.
Through Jurbid, clients can post their cases on www.jurbid.com for free and lawyers can submit proposals to clients. After comparing proposals, the client then chooses a lawyer. Lawyers will pay a proposal fee and Jurbid will collect a transaction fee after clients hire a lawyer. All payments are processed through PayPal.
Ramon De Los Santos, a commercial lender from Miami, was one of the beta testers for Jurbid as both a client and an attorney.
“I really thought that the platform was very seamless, very simple to use, very intuitive,” Santos said.
At first, Bonabi tried working on Jurbid on his own, but he quickly realized that for his idea to become a reality, he needed a team of people with a wide-range of legal and technological expertise.
“I think generally when you’re on your own, you really quickly realize that you’re strapped with resources. We can sum up most of our issues with resources. That goes from building the technology, recruiting the right team to execute, marketing and getting our message across,” Bonabi said.
The Jurbid team consists of Bonabi, Johns, Sia Anasseri, Ignacio Garcia-Huidobro, and Manfred Seidel, who have brought a unique niche to the company.
“We have a number of diverse people on the team. When we started, the first thing we identified as a potential weakness is experience in terms of the startup space itself,” Bonabi said.
To combat that potential weakness, the team brought on Anasseri, who Bonabi describes as a “serial entrepreneur,” as chairman of the board and chief strategy officer.
“Prior to joining Jurbid, Sia was the chief executive officer and chairman of the board of a company that was one of the 26 fastest growing companies in 2014. In his role, he took the company from revenues of $150,000 to $30 million in five years,” Bonabi said.
Other team members include Seidel, who has broad experience with multinational corporations, and Garcia-Huidobro, who hosted South Florida’s first UX+DEV SUMMIT this year.
“Our passion and commitment to the project is unmatched,” Bonabi said.
In building the company, the team has found that while dedication is what catalyzes the company’s growth, at times it is also what leaves an emotional toll on them.
“With the ups and downs, going down one avenue and for whatever reason that avenue closes — you have to keep chugging away at it, chipping at the boulder until you can make your statue of David,” Johns said.
And the act of chugging away is what may lead to Jurbid’s success.
“There are a number of things that will always go wrong, but what you do is you pick it up and you move on. That means at times, you don’t sleep. When David saw me he said, ‘You don’t look too good,’ and that’s the type of commitment that’s required,” Bonabi said.