Day 33: Law and Code

It's funny how I now already knew who my next mentor would be just because he stumbled into the wrong room a little early for his first session. And now he was a familiar face too. With a striking Wild West beard and piercing steely cobalt eyes, you could have expected some gruff tough-talk. But he turned out to be very kind and accommodating. An economist-turned-lawyer who provided a number of useful suggestions about the overall idea and different model options. But he stayed away from serious legal advice, as he felt that was only possible under a client- attorney relationship, which we did not share.

After short introductions, where I spoke about my background in linguistics and behaviour change, he spoke about he had himself spoken French and Japanese back in the day. We then switched over to the latter-but noted there were diverse aspects to it. We may need to choose which ones to focus on. He mentioned; 1) Social connectivity 2) Time Management

I'd by now showed him the makeshift Dollar Shave Kit box with its cut-up egg carton container and mousebook inside. So he too brought up the same issue that had been on my mind for a while too- a subscription model for the business- beyond the initial survival kit. He brought up wine boxes (which I'd never heard of), then tried to address the underlying human needs for various parts of social media. He touched on the human need for staying informed- and suggested some kind of shortened newspaper with just the highlights. Then, zooming out a bit, he came up with a rather elevating idea. We could be the ‘curator of products for more productive life’. Just as Amazon doesnt give out its data to resellers, but centrally collects all relevant information, we too could become a one-stop shop with higher insight than the individual businesses themselves. So users would need only one password to buy from a lot of people. He added some icing to the description- ‘Richer, more connected, more productive and more fruitful life'- So it starts with the first survival kit, but then we become the curator of those products

He went into details of excess capacity of the curated items- much like buying froxen turkey off season. He also suggested different kinds of boxes- graduation, college, career doldrums box. We'd need an internal system to track who gets which boxes- so that you didnt repeat boxes to the same people. I then noticed the time and the fact that we hadn't touched on ANY of the 4 topics I'd sent him. So I twisted this curation discussion back to the idea of legal dimensions. Specifically, what would be needed on paper for hassle-free partnerships in the long run? He touched on license or co-sale of products.

When I brought up Jane's concern from last week- phone breakage, he said a disclaimer liability would be needed. These were serious questions with important implications- which we could't deal with in a 45 min session. I was surprised with this dynamic. I thought the whole point of meeting with a lawyer was to discuss the law. He told me everything was hypothetical and being offered out of good will. I shrugged and said I was new to mentor meetings (which by this time, I clearly was not). Hence my confusion. Anyway, this was just further evidence of what I'd gathered in previous visits- your research and hard work can only prepare you to know and better communicate whatever it is you want. They can't prepare you for what the mentor will ultimately offer. I'd hoped for legal advice, but got advice all the same. He gave me his card and suggested I contact him later. I didn't know on what terms- since I seriously cannot afford a hotshot lawyer at this point. I concede I don't fully understand the incentive structures for this mentorship programme.

Anyway, I had learnt a great deal from Greg- with a lot technical information to process. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise that I didn't have to scratch my head on obscure legalese with these guy using my depleted grey cells. I headed out and tinkered around on my laptop. The pairing of meetings had worked well.

Laurence Warner