The firm has offices in UK and USA, apart from India, and provides services to clients based in India, US, UK, Europe, Middle East and Asia. SupportBiz talked to Ritambhara Agarwal, founder and managing partner of Intelligere. Edited excerpts from the interview:
What are the different kinds of services that you provide?
Our practice areas include general corporate commercial, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, IPR, private equity, project financing, dispute resolution, infrastructure projects and corporate legal advisory.
The firms' practice is aimed at providing clients responsive advice to assist them in achieving their business objectives.
To which industrial sectors do you offer services?
Intelligere's practice extends across diverse sectors of industry, such as IT, infrastructure, financial services and banking, FMCG, airports, media and entertainment, oil and energy, pharmaceutical and insurance.
What is your background?
I am an LL.B. from CLC, DU, post which I completed my Masters’ in Intellectual Property law and a management program from IIM Lucknow. Prior to starting Intelligere, I was associated with a Delhi-based law firm, where I was handling their IPR and general corporate commercial law practice.
Tell us about the initial investment that was needed to start Intelligere...
Intelligere is a completely bootstrapped venture. I invested my own earnings and savings in the venture. I started as a sole practitioner, and today, we are two equity partners, managing a team of 15 members.
What is your business model?
Intelligere is a service-oriented firm. We work on clients on a need basis, and provide legal services as may be best suitable for the clients’ requirements. Our team of lawyers understand and analyse facts and circumstances of each individual case/ requirement of the clients, and provide customized solutions in accordance with the provisions of law. Our team strongly believes in delivering quality service in a time-bound manner.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
We strongly believe in delivering quality services to our clients, and that is why we have been able to retain our clients. They believe in us, and we implement the principle of hand-holding the client to sail through every phase of his/her business and provide customized solutions to his/her requirements. I think the personal touch given by our lawyers, while maintaining a professional approach to provide solutions to client queries, sets us apart from our competitors. We provide services at very competitive prices, without compromising on the quality.
How do you market yourself? How do you get most of your customers?
We get most of our business through client referrals. In addition, we are very active in attending international conferences, seminars etc. on current and future challenges in relation to varied verticals of law. Our firm partners, including me, have been attending these conferences/ seminars as speakers/ delegates. This has been a very effective way of getting new clients.
What is your revenue model?
Our revenue model is not fixed. We charge our clients as per their requirements. It really depends on whether the client requires a lump-sum fee quotation for any particular project/matter or is willing to go for hourly-rate charges. We are flexible in our fee schedule, and customize our model on a case-to-case basis or as per clients’ requirements.
What are your expansion plans?
Intelligere is looking to increase its workforce and plans to open offices in Mumbai, Singapore and few other locations across various continents. We are collaborating with law firms overseas and establishing ourselves as industry experts in the legal field.
What would you say have been your biggest learnings as an entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur, a person should be ready to experiment, take risks, perform each and every task, and get out of his/her comfort zone. Entrepreneurship is not an easy ride. An entrepreneur should be ready to take on the challenges posed by the ride. Persistence and the zeal to perform are the keys to entrepreneurship.
Could you tell us about the awareness of intellectual property rights among firms in India?
IPR laws are still at a nascent stage in India. Firms do not possess much knowledge about the legal implications of IP. There is a need to make companies aware of their IP rights, in terms of protection, enforcement, commercialization, and deriving the maximum value out of IP.
How is this set to change in the near future?
I must acknowledge that in recent times, many companies in India have started understanding the requirement of protecting their IP, and value it. Globalisation of business ventures and cross-border transactions have influenced the awareness about the importance of IPR. We get many queries regarding the process to safeguard the IPR of Indian firms and valuation of the same as and when there is any proposed investment in the company by a foreign venture.
How can Indian SMEs benefit from intellectual property protection?
SMEs are often the driving force behind innovations. However, sadly, due to lack of awareness of the IP system, SMEs often lack the ability to derive maximum value out of their IP assets.
SMEs can benefit significantly by protecting their IP and devising an effective IP management strategy, which enables them to use their IP assets to improve their competitiveness and strategic advantage. SMEs should focus on creating an effective IP management system, which includes not only protecting an enterprise's inventions, trademarks, designs or copyrights, but also a company's ability to commercialize such inventions, market its brands, licensing, exploiting the value of IP during joint ventures and other contractual agreements, and they should effectively monitor and enforce their intellectual property rights. In today’s era, a company's portfolio is valued as a collection of key assets, including IP, which adds significant value to the enterprise.