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Aidia Legal “accidentally” graduated from Silicon Valley-based Founder Institute

Aidia Legal “accidentally” graduated from Silicon Valley-based Founder Institute

A retrospective on the Montreal chapter, Winter 2020/2021.  #FIworldwide

I took the road less travelled. A few years ago, I was a senior I.T. consultant and the contracts kept coming. Already well into my early retirement plan, I decided to go back to school and start a new career. I know I am not the only person who has done this, but most of my engineering peers advised me against “throwing away a line of well-paying gigs”. With a bit of fate and lots of free will, I got my law degree. Now what? Everyone who graduated with me has become a lawyer.

I took the road less travelled, again. I noticed how law firms were so 1990’s and showed everyone my software proof of concept (POC) to improve the status quo. Most lawyers told me it was a good idea but none of them would pay for it. A normal person would have moved on. But I continued to build the POC into a failed minimal viable product (MVP). Meanwhile, I got interested in AI and Law and kept on studying. Note that a master’s in law is for interest only; it will not in any way advance a career in law unless maybe I also do a Ph.D.

Fast-forward to three MVPs and three pre-seed accelerators later, and thanks to the advice of many mentors, we now have paying customers and a dedicated team to support them. Our platform is not yet complete, and revenue is modest, but we have a blueprint to ride a long runway. And “just like that”, my company Aidia Legal graduated from FI Montreal. It is almost pretentious to call it mine as many individuals have helped shape and build it.

My experience at FI has been humbling and rewarding. Allow me to share with you what I learned. Disclaimer: my view is relevant to my reality and does not mean it will apply to anyone else.

Sell before we build. This one seems obvious; we have heard much about Eric Ries’ Lean Startup. But to learn it first-hand is costly and makes a long-lasting impression. I have spent endless effort and time on features that did not sell! They did not sell because they were not what the customers needed! How do I know what they need? No wonder software start-ups should do only two things: code and talk to customers.

Keep the big vision a secret. Don’t get me wrong: have a gigantic vision. But refrain from advertising it because others do not have access to the mental dots that take us there. Not only will they not understand, but they will also think that we are crazy, unrealistic, or stupid. Instead, walk the immediate steps like an ant.

Avoid insanity. The best way to do so is to let the world run around while we stand still. We live in a fast-paced and distracting world already; though it is true that entrepreneurs must “hustle and bustle”, standing still to look inward provides clarity while the rest of the world can get lost.

Clarity is key. Because words are not what they mean. We will receive all kinds of advice from people having all sorts of experiences.  The ability to decipher what they mean and where they come from not only benefits the company but also prevents us from acting defensively. The opinion of an individual is entirely a function of their experience. Therefore, developing an analytical mind is paramount.  A great way to become an independent thinker is to read a lot on a variety of subjects. Leaders and Readers.

In hindsight, pursuing entrepreneurship is a lot like pursuing art. Having moonlighted as a visual performance artist for more than 10 years and almost quit my day job, I can equate art with entrepreneurship in a handful of ways.

  1. Pitching is a performance. We must conquer stage fright.
  2. We will be lonely because not everyone understands Key Performance Index (KPI), just like not everyone understands harmonics.
  3. Self-doubt is an everyday struggle.
  4. Scarcity makes us resourceful, and we must improvise.
  5. Over 90% of the population doesn’t “make” it. So it’s best to do it for the process.

The entrepreneurial journey continues after graduation. From now on, I would like to approach entrepreneurship with the same qualities I have developed in artistic pursuits: perseverance, resilience, and patience. I look forward to meeting fellow “artists” out there on roads less travelled.

In conclusion, I would have to agree with the poet:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

   – Excerpt of “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

 

 

Canada’s New Immigration Measures

Canada’s New Immigration Measures

Canada’s new immigration measures have special meaning to Aidia Legal’s founder

“I came to Canada with my parents at the peak of Hong Kong’s emigration wave in the 90’s.”

Hong Kong –> Canada

Canada and Hong Kong have deep historical ties. I came to Canada with my parents at the peak of Hong Kong’s emigration wave in the 1990’s. It was not the first time that masses of Hong Kong residents fled the Pearl of the Orient. The 1967 Hong Kong riot triggered the first wave after WWII, but during this time, Canada was not one of the popular destinations.

When it became eminent that Hong Kong was going to be given back to China in 1997, Hong Kong residents started making plans to move abroad, to primary destinations such as the United States, Canada, and Australia. Those who swore that the Beijing government would hinder their exercise of freedom left in the 1980’s. But the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 in Beijing convinced many who were undecided. In my personal story, I was already on my way out when Tiananmen happened. And my father was one of the “Astronauts” (flying back and forth, and play on word: men without wives) – husbands remain in Hong Kong for work, while the rest of the family were abroad.

Fast-forward to 1998, just one year after the British handover, some Hong Kong-born emigrants returned to Hong Kong with foreign citizenship. The phenomenon was coined the “returning tide”. Indeed, many of my Hong Kong-born friends in Canada began returning to Hong Kong one by one. It was a sad time for me. Many of them preferred the fast pace lifestyle and vibrant nightlife in Hong Kong, despite the long working hours and expensive real estate. For a long while, it has been the returning tide.

But the recent pro-Beijing expedition bill (suspended and withdrawn) and national security law triggered widespread criticism from all over the world. The expedition bill, if passed, could expedite fugitives to Beijing, making it prone to abuse by political foul play. The national security law criminalizes any activity that is not to Central government’s delight, threatening the basic human rights of Hong Kong people, including non-residents.

These events have direct impacts on Aidia Legal’s B2B clients, as new waves of applications could be flocking from Hong Kong. Aidia Legal just announced the inclusion of open work permit application in our next release. For more information, visit the latest Aidia Legal Press page.

Immigration has always been affected by political or other world events. As a separate example, the current pandemic brought Cirque du soleil’s world tour to a halt; as a result, many couples met on tour must decide whose home to return to. Canada seems to be the destination of choice. Aidia Legal has been helping immigration consultants process some of these spousal sponsorship applications. Aidia Legal pays close attention to world events and stay agile to support our B2B clients by delivering timely features.