"If you have a great team and a good product that can satisfy a large market – investors will find you"
Stan Nennoff is the CEO of Advomi, an online platform where companies and individuals can book legal services from vetted lawyers and all listed legal services are verified. Established in 2014 in Bulgaria, five years later Advomi lawyers have served more than 10,000 clients and saved them thousands of dollars and hours of time. Since 2019 Advomi is also available in Singapore. We sat down with Stan to learn more about the platform, the opportunities Singapore offers for a start up and how the start up ecosystem compares to the one in Bulgaria.
CEEC: You launched Advomi in 2014, how was the idea born and what was behind it?
Stan Nennoff: In 2012 we launched a non-profit that leverages modern technology to make legal information more accessible. Thus, people could easily understand their legal rights and responsibilities. Later, it was clear to us that only information is not enough. People and businesses asked for legal services that are in the 21-st century. So, we created Advomi for them. In Bulgaria we operate under the brand Advokatami.bg. We empower lawyers with technology, we optimise processes and services, thus clients get high quality legal services at affordable prices.
CEEC: Why did you choose to expand to Singapore specifically and to run your company here? What were the benefits that outweighed in general and compared to other countries in Europe or the US? Why Southeast Asia?
SN: There is a big market opportunity. Currently, the internet economy in Southeast Asia is at $100B. And it grows with two digits numbers every year. The competition in our space is not very strong, compared to USA and UK. Singapore is an English speaking country and a great hub for expanding into Indonesia. It’s easy to incorporate and to run the company.
CEEC: How easy was it to set up and operate a company in Singapore?
SN: It was very easy to set up the company, but very difficult to open a corporate bank account. It took me two months!
CEEC: What is the startup ecosystem in Singapore like and how is it different to the one in Bulgaria?
SN: The startup ecosystem in Bulgaria is very efficient. It has grown tremendously with the available resources. There are many Bulgarian global startups, there are investors, there are founders who made large exits and now they give back to the ecosystem via mentoring and funding, there are various communities and a lot of great tech talent.
The ecosystem in Singapore is definitely more international. You see people from all Asia, from Australia, from the USA and UK. There are many great startups and people running them.
CEEC: Would you say it is difficult to find investors in Asia? What should startups be conscious of? Do’s and Don’ts?
SN: If you have a great team and a good product that can satisfy a large market – investors will find you. So, this should be easy. Startups should focus on building the product, getting traction and paying customers. There are many examples of successful companies which don’t raise VC money or who raise at later stages. Becoming profitable early is important. If founders decide to raise, they should look for founders-VC fit. These people are going to be your partners for a very long time, and you should get along together.
CEEC: According to you, how is the Singaporean market different than the Bulgarian one in the search for legal services?
SN: I would say that they are at a very similar stage. Law firms in both countries are still lagging with the integration of technology in their internal processes and collaboration with clients. Even the websites of many Singaporean and Bulgarian law firms are still in the 90’s. However, a big difference is the price. For example, a company incorporation in Bulgaria costs about S$100, while in Singapore is S$1000+. Same with the rest of the services. Legal prices in Singapore are very expensive and that is a great opportunity for us, because we can lower the price via efficiency and technology.
CEEC: Advomi recently launched a tech news digest. Tell us more about this concept and what it will feature.
SN: Yep! It’s called Advomi Digest. At first, we made it for us. As a startup in Southeast Asia we needed to stay on top of the news in the tech scene. We didn’t have time to waste on news websites, so we created a digest for us. All news stories are summarised into fact-packaged news bites under 400 characters. One email goes out on Tuesday morning, one on Thursday, keeping us fully informed for the week. The digest curates the top stories from every tech news source, saving us hours each day. One day we decided to share it when friends, they liked it very much. Then, we decided to make it public and it seems people like it a lot. We launched in the beginning of October and we are already looking into almost 1000 subscribers. You can try it our as well. It’s free and you can always unsubscribe. Available at www.advomi.com.sg/digest.
CEEC: You describe yourself as a “Student of Life”, please expand more on this philosophy.
SN: The learning never stops. I like to learn the fundamentals of various disciplines and then cross-apply solutions from one to other. For example the compound effect from math, can be also applied to team relationships, product launches, books, etc. I’m trying to get the main principles in math, physics, biology, programming, design, psychology, etc.