By Taryn Skees for Amplify — February 12, 2021
Hishem Alsalman and Carlos Acevedo, Co-Founder’s of Legal Gantt, take their partnership very seriously. When it comes to working on their business, Hishem says, “Having the right team is the most important thing of all,” and Carlos could not agree more. Friends since undergrad, the pair finds it “essential that you have someone that can complement you and balance each other out.”
Born in Mexico, Carlos came to the United States at 12-years-old. His immigration has inspired him to create equity for the underrepresented. Hishem, a first generation Iraqi-American and first-generation student, became interested in the legal field after his own family had trouble with the law. “My goal was to try to help them as much as possible – and so I set my sights on becoming an attorney.”
Both men had entrepreneurial families, although the experiences were much different. “My mom’s side of the family has a couple restaurants in Kentucky and when I used to live in Mexico they would come back and have stories of what they have accomplished,” says Carlos, “so I was inspired by their success.”
Carlos had his first taste of entrepreneurship in school, when a teacher did not want to DJ the school dance. He took it on out of obligation but began to host a lot of events as a result. After learning English in middle school and going on to high school, a teacher recommended Carlos for an opportunity to join a program that allowed him to attend colleges to talk to entrepreneurs and see real-life experience. “She had a lot of impact – she believed in me. Motivated me.”
Hishem’s first attempt at entrepreneurship was as a 4th grader. “I used to collect Yu-Gi-OH cards and me and a friend would sell them. We sold an entire stash to a kid on the bus for $100.” His father had started a few businesses that were not successful and even cautioned him against becoming an entrepreneur, but that did not stop Hishem. “I realized I didn’t want to just work for someone. I wanted to be the boss. I wanted my voice to be heard.”
Both men had a desire to use their collective experience and education to create something that would help people. However, Hishem explains, “You’ve got to find the right idea. You have to have a passion behind it.”
Together, they created Legal Gantt out of a desire to help people have transparency in the legal field. Legal Gantt gives clients the ability to track the legal process while reducing phone calls and eliminating risk of bar complaints. This helps to bridge the communication barrier between the attorney and client. Says Carlos, “We want to improve the relationship there and bring the legal and tech industry together.”
The entrepreneurship journey for both men has not come without challenges. “The language barrier was hard – in Mexico I was really talkative, and it was really frustrating not being able to communicate with people well,” says Carlos. “The biggest challenge so far though, has been to raise the kind of money we need to keep going.”
When it comes to raising the funds needed to sustain their business, they know you must build trust. “One of the things we are learning – you can’t expect someone to invest in you right from the get-go,” says Hishem. “We are building connections and relationships now and then showing them what we are capable of so when it is time to invest, they will be comfortable.”
As they continue to focus on building Legal Gantt together, they reiterate that when it comes to business partnerships the 3 most valuable things are loyalty, trust, and respect. “Be open to feedback, don’t take things too personally, and always try to improve,” advises Carlos.
In the end, the satisfaction that comes with starting something new makes the journey worth it. Hishem reflects, “Being an entrepreneur has given me the chance to take control of my life.”
In May, Hishem Alsalman will receive his Juris Doctor from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law. Hishem is an alumnus of the business accelerator at Northern Kentucky University, INKUbator. Hishem’s legal background consists of corporate, personal injury, insurance defense, criminal defense, and immigration issues across the Ohio River Valley. As the CEO of Legal Gantt, Hishem will revolutionize the legal industry and improve communication between attorneys and their clients.
Carlos Acevedo is a Co-Founder and CTO of Legal Gantt. He has a long-standing reputation as an ambassador for the Hispanic/Latinx community at organizations like the University of Louisville and LG&E where he currently works as a programmer and analyst. As CTO of Legal Gantt, Carlos will leverage his technical skills to solidify simplicity and support for the legal industry.
Beta test launch of Legal Gantt will be Feb 15, 2021. Fifteen law firms have pre-subscribed. For more information visit www.legalgantt.com.