Kokila Alagh, Founder of KARM Legal Consultants talks about her journey ever since she decided to take a plunge into the world of entrepreneurship and set up a successful law firm legal services and business consultancy to startups, fintech companies and among others.
How did you arrive to a conclusion to choose the name Karm?
Karm has its origins in the Sanskrit word which means ‘good action’. I chose this as the name of my new age legal startup, as its built on the philosophy that with right and honest actions for clients through our counsel, results will automatically follow. While we do not promise results, we believe in being active, committed and true to our clients.
What drove you to start your own venture and what was the reaction of your friends, family and peers?
Attractiveness towards entrepreneurship is genetic for me. I have truly believed in the fact that if you want to pursue something, then you must go ahead and do it without waiting for others to support or handhold you in the process. With this approach, I set up KARM – the first law firm focusing on emerging tech sector.
Having said, the ecosystem around me of family, friends, professional friends and mentors were fully supportive in my journey.
How did you raised the capital to fund this venture and did you faced any difficulties to raise those funds?
Since I was aspiring it for sometime, I bootstrap funded the venture and kept growing along the way.
What challenges did you faced in the initial phase of your startup and how did you overcome them?
Since it wasn’t a regular law firm, there were many challenges faced during the initial period. Some of which were:
- Reluctance and resistance from the clients was a big hurdle as start ups did not understand the need for a lawyer conversation, leave alone hiring a law firm due to budget limitation.
- Emerging technology such as Crypto currencies and Blockchain ventures did not fathom how valuable a law firm could be to the overall business. The advantages to this fraternity had to explained, especially with these new and high-risk technologies.
- Thirdly, being new and relatively unknown in the market, renowned and established tech companies preferred to hire established law firms despite their limited specialty on the subject.
Slowly and surely, our patience and perseverance paid off with consistency in our superlative work and results achieved by the entire team for client. We have earned respect not only from the bigger companies and brands, but regulatory bodies also recognizes KARM as a specialized law firm in the present day.
The domain that you represent is well dominated by men, so how did you managed to find your niche?
Ironic but true that it is, I did not face any gender bias while setting up KARM. Yes, law is considered to be a male dominated field mainly, but if you are a smart, intelligent, have a sharp business acumen, everyone treats you as their equal and the atmosphere becomes gender agnostic.
How has your business evolved over the years and how have you managed to keep the company both sustainable and profitable?
KARM has come a long way. From a startup law firm, we are steadily heading towards growing into an established company in the next few years.
This was only possible by being prudent about income and revenues, keeping the team involved in all major developments of the firm, and staying ahead of the market. Collectively as a team, KARM endeavors to stay ahead, identify trends and prepare to answer legal queries on the subject much before they take centrestage or become mainstream.
For instance, in the last few months the team has spent considerable time in understanding and studying the regulation aspects of e-gaming globally as its expected to become an imminent need.
One more aspect in which has kept KARM not only afloat but also profitable is the fact that our services are not limited to companies in the country or the region alone. We have been fortunate to work with clients across geographies since our inception. In fact, if there is anything positive from the pandemic, it is easier for clients to work with partners from different parts of the world with the new digital workplace trend.
As a woman entrepreneur, what typical challenges did you encountered while taking off with your startup?
Fortunately, I formed KARM in the UAE, that ranks high on gender equality. While the law is recent in the country, the leadership has not only advocated but have also provided ministerial and leading positions to women professionals who proved their mettle and have been successful in those positions.
Personally, for me, being an entrepreneur is not an easy path to tread on – doesn’t matter if it’s a man or women. Therefore, I faced all challenges that an entrepreneur has to face during the initial period such as organizing finances, keeping the ship afloat, building a robust team, getting support from clients, industry peers, and the list goes on.
But if, I were to cite my biggest challenge – it was the fact that I dared and attempted something new. KARM was conceived as a law firm with a very focused and new practice area – for emerging tech companies, which was ahead of time and no other lawyer had attempted to create. Therefore, it was a challenge to educate clients, peers and the regulators of this gap we wanted to fill.
Besides begin a working woman, you also have family and children, how do you manage a successful enterprise as well as take care of your family responsibilities and motherhood?
Being a working mother, I feel I am better at understanding my children’s needs as I am in tune with the latest in the world that could be utilized for a child’s growth. On the other hand, I involve involving my kids to be a part of my professional life as much as I am personally present for all their special and important academic and other events as it aids in makes them socially independent. Being a part of your children’s formative years is important for their emotional growth and therefore, I try my best to strike a work life balance. It is a juggle sometimes, but its not impossible to get an equilibrium that works for you and your kids.
Additionally, my strong and well mentored team have always supported me in this. In fact, with my recent pregnancy when I was not fully focused on my work due to a new baby, they rose to the challenge and managed and grew the business many notches higher. Creating a strong support system at work and at home is key to managing two different outfits – home and office effortlessly.
Today, more and more women wish to choose their own path, what message would you give them to inspire to be a entrepreneur and dream big?
I believe that the bigger you dream, the pathway becomes wider. Therefore, one should dream really big and work towards it diligently. Start by acquiring knowledge, interact with people, learn from their knowledge and experiences and commence on this adventurous journey.
What should they always remember when they are getting ready to take off with their own startup?
There are three simple but vital elements to be successful as an entrepreneur
1.Don’t give up – It not going to be easy but the journey gets better
2.Be Agile – You may change the concept on the way. It’s a refined and resilient approach which will protect you from failing.
3.Ignore the noise – People will judge, criticize and discourage. Believe in yourself!