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Lessons From a Patent Attorney

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Lessons From a Patent Attorney
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What does your Business do?

Shah IP Law, PLLC primarily works with startup tech companies and helps protect their innovations.  They use a data-driven approach to create strategic portfolios that improve valuations, generate investor interest, and improve business outcomes.  

What did you learn early on?

“About six months into my startup journey, I learned that there is a vast difference between generating customer demand and generating customer love,” said Samar Shah, Founder at Shah IP Law, PLLC, a patent strategy law firm that primarily works with startups.

“There are hundreds of ways to ‘hack’ your way towards growth, especially when you are a new market entrant. But not all growth is equal. I learned very quickly that all of the ‘growth hack’ strategies that we were using to grow our customer base were becoming less effective literally by the day.”

However, Shah notes that his firm was able to enjoy sustained growth when he “finally got the product and service offering dialed-in just right.” He notes that “in addition to serving clients as a traditional legal service provider, [the firm] offers data-driven insights to clients to help them make better business decisions. For example, the firm uses data analytics to figure out which patents startups should pursue based on historic valuations and deal activity in particular verticals. Moreover, the firm uses data analytics to carve out large swaths of white spaces that clients can strategically occupy in a patent landscape to generate investor demand. By doing this, we not only fulfill a core customer need, but we also delight our clients by going way above and beyond a traditional legal service provider’s offering.” Shah concludes that once his firm “got this part just right, the firm’s clients couldn’t help but share our approach and our solutions with others. We were able to grow through customer love at a much more sustained level than we ever could by simply generating customer demand.”

What do you wish you’d known sooner or before you got started?

“I wish I had known the value and the importance of differentiation before I got started,” said Shah. “When I started the law firm, I had a vague notion of how the firm would be different than other law firms out there. But we didn’t make a ton of headway until we figured out our single most important advantage as a law firm.” Shah defines an advantage as something that is “important to the customer, measurable, and own-able.” “For us, we wanted to be a data-driven law firm that helps clients make smarter IP decisions. We weren’t able to stand out until we got that down, both in our marketing, but also in our service offering.”

What would you say to others starting out?

“If you are starting out, I recommend that you do a ton of experimentation, and start using data as your north star,” Shah notes that he received a lot of advice when he started out, but quickly realized that most of it were not very helpful or relevant to his business. “I had to learn to conduct mini-experiments on the cheap to test various offerings and their merits. If you are going to succeed, you have to learn how to test ideas and figure out whether they work for your specific business.”

Have worked as a writer and/or editor at Forbes Magazine, Newsweek International, US News & World Report, Lear's Magazine. Free-lanced for New York magazine, The New York Times, Smart Money, Parents, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Cosmopolitan.

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