On October 11, DigitalTown (OTC PINK:DGTW), a GovTech 100 company that builds city-specific Web portals to serve as directories and marketplaces, announced their agreement to purchase certain assets from Congo Ltd., including the technology powering Congo Ltd’s flagship brand JustLegal. Willy Ogorzaly and Frank Robles, JustLegal’s CEO and CTO, attributed the company’s success to its talented and diverse team, which included two Mexico-based engineers that the company discovered through Austin’s own CodersLink.
JustLegal has been working to solve the gap to accessing justice between the public seeking legal help and lawyers providing it. This substantial problem has been described by many including the American Bar Association last summer in an article titled “Can the access-to-justice gap be closed?”. Congo has built a solution makes it easy for people seeking such help to find an attorney and schedule a free initial consultation. They can choose to meet in person, over the phone, or via JustLegal’s secure video conferencing technology.
The company also supports lawyers existing business practices through the utilization of its intake, scheduling, and video conferencing solutions to help them better engage with more clients leveraging their own legal practice website.
In 2013, the idea for JustLegal began as a class project at the University of Colorado Boulder. After relocating to Austin, Texas in 2016, Willy and his co-founders took full advantage of the many local resources that Austin offers to startups, including the Capital Factory accelerator program. Through Capital Factory, Willy and his co-founders, Joe Burchard and Victor Rojas, brought on seasoned entrepreneurs, Frank Robles, R.C. Mosier, and Frank Burns to the executive team.
Robles, who is of Scottish and Spanish descent, is a highly effective technology executive with an extensive portfolio of successes. DigitalTown recognized the experience of the Congo Ltd. team, the technology and the extremely robust and scalable infrastructure they had created. DigitalTown is now leveraging Robles’ skillset by placing him in the key position of VP of Global Operations and President of the Business Services Division. Rob Monster, CEO of DigitalTown, explained his logic behind this acquisition by saying,
“The Congo team has built a robust platform for managing online services procurement. Service platforms like Angie’s List, Houzz, Porch, ServiceMaster, and Thumbtack attempt to lump all service provider discovery in one bucket. Niche platforms like Avvo and ZocDoc cater to specific niches. DigitalTown is using the new web extensions such as .LAW, .SHOP,.CITY and more to put the consumer at the center of the experience in a way that is intuitive, personalized, real-time and secure through an integrated network of digital portals that cater to specific geo-targeted verticals…”
DigitalTown’s platform connects buyers and sellers seamlessly online via web and mobile devices. The strategy is to bring in people who are searching for goods and services to use their locally-focused websites rather than go to geographically unbounded tools like Amazon and Google.
As for DigitalTown’s asset acquisition of Austin-based Congo Ltd’s platform, JustLegal, this represents another win for the City of Austin, the Capital Factory, and the Austin startup ecosystem. This also makes a strong case for the ongoing conversation about how diversity in tech really adds to the success of companies. The diversity of Congo Ltd’s team helped build a robust platform in JustLegal that the publicly held Seattle based, DigitalTown found to be a perfect fit, allowing them to increase their company’s operational efficiency, scalability, and profits.