Interview with Merlie Calvert
is an online legal solutions platform providing quick, affordable, user-friendly solutions that speed you on your way.
It's been created by our talented legal, business and technology experts to give you the confidence to solve your business legal needs, whatever those needs may be.
We'll rapidly identify what you want and we'll get you there fast, with certainty and without spending money where you really don't need to.
What's next for Farillio, as well as your own career?
We have a very busy period coming up. We have only really just launched so there's still a lot to do. Lots more technology to now start playing with, some of the machine learning elements to switch on, a lot more peer-to-peer comparative and predictive data coming in, we're a bit of a data monster. A huge amount of video work to do, we’re also a video monster, we want a lot more content. We’re onboarding new partners and creating new materials which are really great and exciting to share. We've got some more social media channels to kick off. Fundraising somewhere in there too. Pretty exciting stage of development and it's been really fun actually being environment where we’re surrounded by lots of people that are in a similar stage to us. In terms of what's next in my own career, this is as busy as I've ever been, this is as crazy as I’ve ever been, but it's terrific, I can't read imagine doing anything else right now, as well as going home a being a full-time mum too. But the next few years is going to be all about Farillio. If you were to nip me right now I'll probably bleed for Farillio brand colours because that's how deep it runs and it's really exciting just to be a part of it.
Who are the main clients of Farillio, and how do you initially assess how to best help new clients?
Farillio has two different types of customer. We sell directly to small businesses and freelancers, sole traders, tech startups, people running bakeries, people starting their own professional consultancy, lots of different types of small business. But we also sell to representative organisations and corporates who have an existing small customer base and who maintain a relationship with those customers, it might be through a membership package and might be tendency arrangements, all sorts of different ways too. If you're a small business you can either come directly to us and subscribe through the platform or you'll find this wrapped up in packages you can buy from a provider. We test, test and test in terms of how we help the best clients. We’re a small business ourselves, so we know the frustrations that we ourselves have faced. One of the great things about going through the process yourself means that as you learn, you share out. So lot our materials are literally based on some things that our advisors have shared with us and we've created materials from that we. Obviously the more we talk to our own community that we've built, which is full of startups, freelancers, businesses, people starting out or just started out, so taking all of that knowledge and putting it all over knowledge together. Testing it is a really great way to ensure what you’ve launched is really relevant and valuable.
What are some of the major challenges facing small businesses? Do you have any advice for overcoming such challenges?
Aside from the general anxiety about Brexit, there are multiple. I think there is a never-ending spiral of paperwork, admin, the bureaucracy that businesses have to manage on top of running a business generally. I think the challenges are about being paid on time, being paid a fair price, not going down the rabbit hole with late payers and running into debt. I think a lot of businesses who rely on people to pay on time struggle with cash flow and liquidity. I think one of the biggest things challenges for me as a small business owner is feeling like I’m a mere traffic controller. The second-guessing the experts, beating myself up about something that I should know but I don't know and not finding out about it easily enough and being caught in the crossfire of Chinese whispers about different experts and what they're saying and not being able to report the right way. Law is a big challenge and a big obstacle for some businesses and they know that they need it. To simplify it is the thing that we're trying to do and it's really important. I think the best advice I can give to every business owner is to make sure you don't spend a lot of time in the business and instead, standing back and looking at where the goals are, measure your goals on a regular basis. It is a chore, it isn't a pleasant task, but looking at your numbers and seeing if you're reaching your targets is really important if you want to succeed.
What is your professional background? Do you have any advice for young professionals working in the legal world who want to branch out into entrepreneurship?
So I've been a lawyer for over 20 years, it's been terrific fun. I’ve sat on both sides of the fence as a client of lawyers in law firms and as a private practice myself. Most of my career has been in the industry as a lawyer, both in directorship and board level roles but also advising too. I have spanned the drugs, drink, music and diamond industries to name but a few. The last five years have been much more focused on small businesses and startups which is been exciting. Even more dynamic than the luxury brands in the consumer goods businesses that I worked with before. My advice for anyone working in the legal world today that's got an interest entrepreneurship is you’re incredibly well placed in many ways, you’ve got great skill sets, plus lawyers are terrific connectors, build a great network, talk to as many people as you can before you consider doing this. Go into it with your eyes wide open, it’s a very different word to how you work in law firms. In many ways, that's great because there are no rules and that you're not judged by how many times you’ve done the same thing but there is a lack of comfort in that too. It can be quite daunting and intimidating environment to be in. Build a network, have confidence in yourself, plan well, reach out to people who you can rely on to support you. Whether that's in giving you the tools that you need to get started or in helping you to get Investments to open the doors to sales opportunities. That network is really a lot of what makes the magic happen. If you are going to do this then I've never regretted it and very best of luck to you too.
How many people currently work for Farillio? Is the team predominantly comprised of legal, technology, or business experts?
So in true start-up style, we are very lean, there aren't that many of us in the team today. There are 6 of us full time, and a couple part-time, and we borrow time from a fellow startup for some needs as well. We are very flexible. In that case, we are a perfect blend of law, technology, sales, marketing, content writing. Everybody rolls up their sleeves. Everyone on the team has either run a business before, been working with startups for a long time, and most people have very significant experience at what they do. That's really important for us as we didn't want to mess about with this product. So it’s a great team. Amazing brands as backgrounds I find myself truly privileged to work with them every day, they're great fun. It's hugely challenging because they all have terrific ideas but it strengthens our product as a result.
Could you please introduce Farillio and what led to your founding the company?
Farillio is amazing. It is a digital legal account that makes law faster, simpler and much more accessible. Cheaper and better for small businesses from startups to sole traders, all the way up to those who have remained running for a while and looking to grow. It is a 20 year in the making obsession for me. So my love affair with technology began as a lawyer in the music industry and Napster emerged. It was the first time that you could see what technology could do. The power was in the hands of consumers and the little guys, and the big music publishers had not lost control completely but certainly felt like at the time. It was amazing and suddenly everyone was connected in a way that we just never been connected before. This is before social media, this is before Facebook and Twitter. We were only just starting to advise as professionals using email. So it was before a lot of what we take for granted today. I had a very drunk conversation with somebody at the music publisher where I was working as a very young and a very green lawyer at the time and I said “Oh my gosh wouldn't it be amazing if you could stream law” but Farillio is not at the streaming law phase but there's something that I've been working towards for a very long time. It's super exciting as a start-up founder and as a young business owner myself I think it's incredible to have something that really empowers people to do what they need and access something that's truly difficult right now.