Episode 21 of the Ignite Alabama podcast features Sheree Martin's conversation with Jack West, CEO and founder of Book-it Legal, an innovative startup in the legal space.
Book-it Legal is a marketplace startup that helps law firms hire law students to do legal research, legal writing, and other related work. Jack is a lawyer who spent a few years practicing transactional law with a corporate law firm in Birmingham before starting Book-it Legal, LLC in 2016.
The Book-it Legal Big Picture
Book-it Legal got its first boost through the Alabama Launchpad program when it won $50,000 in funding to push the new company from idea to minimum viable product.
Most recently, Book-it Legal was one of 10 startups (out of 100 applicants) selected to make up the first cohort of the Velocity Accelerator Program through the Innovation Depot. The first edition Velocity Accelerator ended in April and, I believe, applications are still open for the second cohort.
Jack’s plans for Book-it Legal, LLC for summer of 2017 are to grow and scale the enterprise. At the time of our conversation in late April, law students from 5 schools were available for projects and lawyers from 11 states had signed up.
Advice for Entrepreneurs
The biggest piece of advice Jack offers to new entrepreneurs is to find a local entrepreneurial community and get involved.
Jack started by attending meetups of Birmingham Startup Drinks, a meetup group in Birmingham facilitated by Tony Summerville. The first meetup Jack attended happened to be the first pitch night for Birmingham Startup Drinks. That evening, Jack met lawyers on the board of Innovation Depot, along with Summerville, who introduced him to Nate Schmidt, executive director of the Velocity Accelerator program for Innovation Depot.
We also talked a bit about mindset challenges. Jack is fortunate to have the support of family and his fiancé, but he realizes that it's easy for an entrepreneur to fall into the trap of equating company success with life success.
This is a bit of a paraphrase but, in effect, Jack said it's important that the entrepreneur not “bind up who you are, your value, based on how your company is doing at any given time.”
Business success is a “marathon, not a sprint.” Success always takes longer than the entrepreneur might expect, so you need endurance to push through the obstacles.
I mentioned the hero's journey and how that fits into overcoming obstacles on the way to success.
Books and Resources for Entrepreneurs
I asked Jack to recommend books and other resources that might help aspiring entrepreneurs.
[Links to books on Amazon are affiliate links and your purchases through affiliate links help support Ignite Alabama podcast to keep the episodes coming.]
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is where any entrepreneur should begin.
The book Jack wishes he’d read earlier in his startup journey: The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
Jack also recommended White Tears, a recent work of fiction by Hari Kunzru.
Jack and I also talked briefly about All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, a book that I was reading at the time of our conversation in late April. Jack said it was next in the queue on his fiction reading list.
Jack suggested that entrepreneurs who want to start a marketplace type of business check out Share Tribe Academy.
Other Mentions in this Episode
In addition to the resources, books and other companies mentioned above, we also talked about:
TBD Law [an unconference gathering by lawyers who are at the edge of the future of law] by Lawyerist.com. I [Sheree Martin] was a participant in TBD Law 2, back in late February 2017.
Hourly Nerd (now Catalant)