Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sonja Ebron, Co-Founder of Courtroom5, located in Durham, NC, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Courtroom5 is an end-to-end legal toolbox for people handling civil litigation without a lawyer. The toolbox includes just-in-time legal training designed for laypeople, along with all the tools lawyers use to manage cases, like claims analysis, legal research, and document assembly.

In some instances, there are lawyers available to provide on-demand legal services, such as document review, court appearances, and other narrowly-defined tasks. Most people in court without a lawyer lose, but those completing their cases using Courtroom5 win or settle more than 70% of the time.

Tell us about yourself

I'm a Ph.D. electrical engineer with a background in utilities and machine learning. When I found myself in court without a lawyer, I was able to muddle through. But I saw lots of people who, like me, couldn't afford a lawyer but who also had no hope of getting justice without one. We have a first amendment right to petition our government, and it shouldn't take tons of money to pay a lawyer to exercise that right. The success of our customers and the consequences for those we don't serve to keep me motivated each day.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I'm most proud of recruiting the Courtroom5 team, starting with my cofounder, Dr. Debra Slone, a librarian and information scientist who's an expert at curating complex information and making it accessible to laypeople. We have A players in the product, business development, operations, and quality assurance that ensure we deliver the best solution available in the market.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Some days require me to be a good manager. On other days, I'm called to be a good leader. But ownership is 24/7. You have to see around corners, and you never get to turn it off.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Don't quit your day job until revenue or investment grows to replace the personal income. All early-stage plans are laughable. Things will take five times as long as you think.
  2. Fall in love with your market, not your product. You don't know what the product is until you've learned your customers well. So use your early product versions to learn about your customers.
  3. Don't start a business for the money. There are easier, less stressful ways to make money. Start a business to change the world in a way only you can change it. It'll take that level of passion and purpose to succeed.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Everyone can be an entrepreneur. People sell their skills and ideas every day. Starting a business is no different. What distinguishes entrepreneurs from everyone else is the mindset and the degree to which we own our skills and ideas. Want to be an entrepreneur? Change your mind.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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