IIT Chicago-Kent student Richard Komaiko wins at USF International Business Plan Competition

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Richard Komaiko, a second-year student at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, won first-place among Web technology companies at the 2010 University of San Francisco International Business Plan Competition held March 25 and 26 at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco. Komaiko's company, The Lawyer Market, helps lawyers find more work by connecting them directly with consumers in their area.

The competition, sponsored by the University of San Francisco School of Business, is open to startup companies run by graduate students. University teams are selected through a rigorous screening process to compete for cash prizes and the opportunity to present their business plans to a panel of judges composed of Silicon Valley venture capitalists.

Komaiko's company received guidance and support from IIT's Jules F. Knapp Entrepreneurship Center. Nik Rokop, the center's managing director, said, "Richard is following in a great tradition of IIT entrepreneurs. It is a pleasure to work with and support such smart, driven leaders."

Launched in March of 2010 by Komaiko and three business partners, The Lawyer Market is the world's first online marketplace for legal services. On The Lawyer Market, people seeking a lawyer can anonymously describe their legal needs and specify how much they are willing to pay for legal services. The Lawyer Market will then find lawyers in the person's area who can do the job within budget. This service costs nothing for consumers, and membership is free for lawyers as well.

The Lawyer Market uses crowdsourcing and collaboration to reduce the lawyer's cost of customer acquisition by up to 95 percent, said Komaiko. "Much of those savings are passed along to the consumer," he said. "As a result, the Lawyer Market can effectively meet the needs of lawyers and potential clients."

"Richard's innovative site permits consumers to access a wide range of attorneys while helping attorneys build their practices with fewer upfront costs," said Harold J. Krent, dean of Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Prior to starting law school, Komaiko was a research fellow at the U.S-China Economic and Security Review Commission in Washington, DC. He has published both popular and scholarly pieces on strategy, economics, and law. Komaiko holds a degree in economics and Chinese from the University of Illinois, and has studied Chinese language and culture at the University of Chicago and the Beijing Institute of Education.

The IIT Knapp Entrepreneurship Center, a part of IIT Stuart School of Business, is a collaborative community of supporters of early stage ventures. The Knapp Center was established in 2004 with a $1 million gift from Chicago entrepreneur, philanthropist and IIT life trustee Jules F. Knapp. The center serves to strengthen existing and foster new IIT technology-focused entrepreneurship programs.

IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law is the law school of Illinois Institute of Technology, a private, Ph.D.-granting institution with programs in engineering, science, psychology, architecture, business, design and law.