Me: "It shouldn't be this way."
Sheng: "I agree. Let's fix it."
And that's how the idea for Logik Systems, Inc. began—13 years ago over a $7 plate of hunan chicken (extra-spicy) at a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant in Falls Church, Virginia.
This was 2004. The tech community was still recovering from the dot-com-bust. In Northern Virginia, the technology job prospects were bleak at best. You had the choice of working for the government, like the GSA job I "almost" took where I would've been the youngest programmer in the GSA cube-farm, or working for a consulting company like Bearingpoint, Navigant, Deloitte, etc. who was working on behalf of the government.
Live free or die… working for the government.
Freedom FTW! So naturally Sheng and I chose to work in the most cutting edge industry: legal. :)
Actually, we fell into this space entirely randomly. Other than my juvenile delinquent past, we had ZERO background with the law. But once we stepped into the wild, wonderful world of legal we were hooked. Next to the healthcare industry, the legal industry is among the most ripe for technological disruption.
Sure, we may not be curing cancer or going to Mars. But the issues and problems in the legal industry are deep, and deeply troubling. Access to information has become an access to justice issue—an access to justice problem —so much so that prominent judges have told us that the insane cost of eDiscovery is among the greatest challenges our legal system has ever faced. And if this issue isn’t addressed, then our beloved democracy is at risk, which affects everything from cancer research to privately funded aerospace engineering. It's all connected and we're helping to play our part in fixing the "system."
"The right to a fair trial is one of the most important safeguards of justice and the rule of law." - Ana Bostan
A few weeks ago I spoke with one of our newest and smallest customers, a solo practitioner out of New York City. Mark said, "Logikcull is a game-changer for the solo practitioner. The playing field has been leveled and now we can fight against the big guys! I've already told over a dozen other lawyers about Logikcull and am happy to continue spreading the word for you. It's important."
Let's go back to 2004.
Sheng and I didn't start Logikcull in 2004. We started Logik Systems, Inc.—www.lksi.com was (and still is) our website—and we had no freaking clue what we were doing. The problem we saw in 2004 wasn't access to justice. We didn't even know how many law firms there were in the U.S. (about 50,000) let alone the massive unfairness building in the judicial system. All we knew at the time was that printing emails to paper so that highly educated and highly paid people (lawyers) could read them… was stupid.
Logik Systems, Inc. was created to make the process of eDiscovery more efficient and less paper-based (old website screenshot here). At the time, the price of a printed email was $0.25/page. Sounds insane, right? It was. From 2002-2004, Sheng and I worked at a litigation support company that would routinely print millions and millions of emails every month. 1GB of email would produce 3,000 documents and ~30,000 pages. That's $7,500/GB.
We left that company in 2004 to start Logik Systems, which we shortened to just Logik a few years after launch. Our business model was simple: no printing—keep everything electronic/digital and charge a flat per-gigabyte price (sound familiar?) at a fraction of the market price (we charged a one-time fee of ~$2k/GB, or 75% off market).
We got our first client in 2005 and we hit the jackpot! The first project they gave us fully paid for our startup costs. On that day Sheng and I went to the movies while GridLogik (our first product, which had no user interface) churned through the data, which was done in < 24 hours. Our client was thrilled with the turnaround time and the quality of the output. The business took off.
In 2009, Logik landed on the Inc 500 at #181. We were the fastest growing legal services company on the list with 1,200% growth over four years. Here's Sheng and I in our Washington D.C. (Chinatown) office at our Inc 500 celebration party. Happy guys:
And then something unexpected happened…
The economy collapsed.
Yep. Just as we were flying high, the outside world brought us to our knees. Revenue took a big hit when our largest and most dependable clients didn’t send us any new work—because they didn’t have any—for a year.
But… this correction was the BEST thing to ever happen to us. We had an epiphany!
In the midst of our depression we stopped and looked around at what we had become—and we thought deeply about where we were going. We didn't like what we saw. The place we were heading was a nightmare laying in wait.
Working on large scale eDiscovery projects was a thankless job that we were sick of. We actually thought of quitting or selling the company. We were that sick of it. Sure, there were millions to be made. But it was a soul-crushing job. Not something Sheng or I wanted as our lasting legal legacy. So we wondered…
"What if everything we are doing as a vendor could be automated? What would that look like? What if eDiscovery were Amazon-easy? What if this product were available to the entire legal industry and not just the BIG rich law firms?"
These questions were the spark that ignited the idea of Logikcull. This was 2009.
Our minds were racing with the possibilities. We had goosebumps—like you get when you know you're onto something BIG. We got to work. Our team of No eDiscovery pirates figured out that if were going to democratize discovery, we needed to automate the F*&K out of it. Logikcull needed to be drag-drop-done. So we counted…1 step, 2 steps… 3,000 steps! Holy crap. It was taking us 3,000 steps to do one eDiscovery project. One "upload" = 3,000 steps (mostly manual).
But we needed to do it one step, not 3,000.
We spent the next four years learning and building—all the while being 100% bootstrapped.
Was it worth it? Hell yes it was.
FAST FORWARD TO TODAY:
The idea we had in 2009 has now become the leader in cloud-based discovery. Today, Logikcull is used by thousands of people in over 34 countries around the world. We crossed a billion pages hosted a few weeks ago and are on pace to double our customer base by the end of the year. And we're just getting started. There are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people that could use Logikcull to help solve their access to information challenges.
Happy birthday Logik Systems, Inc. Thank you for helping us realize our true mission and vision with Logikcull. May you rest in peace. And thank you to everyone for helping to make this dream become a reality.
Viva la Logikcull!!!