Lawyer Tianpeng Wang has had a lengthy career, working with multiple international firms and spending 15 years advising more than 100 clients about how to do business in China.
A qualified lawyer in both China and New York, Wang made Ottawa his permanent home in 2016. “I never thought about moving to Canada before my wife came to Ottawa for her graduate degree,” Wang says. But after a few visits, “I fell in love with the city.”
In Ottawa, Wang became a partner at Mistral Venture Partners, helping the firm’s portfolio companies expand into Asian markets. Before long, he spotted a gap in the market.
“I noticed that when (businesses) go to another country, like China, they have no clue how to differentiate between good and bad legal services,” he says.
That’s what sparked the idea for Trustiics: an online platform serving small and medium-sized businesses by connecting them with overseas legal services through a pay-as-you-go model. By 2020, Wang had taken a leap, striking out on his own as the co-founder and CEO of Trustiics.
In explaining how the platform works, Wang says, “You choose a legal service by yourself based on your specific (needs) and place an order, just like how you buy stuff on Amazon.” All payments are made through the system using a credit card, with security deposits going to an escrow account at a Canadian bank.
Trustiics’ first priority is security: the platform itself is built using Amazon Web Services in North America. Every one of the platform’s 300 lawyers have been vetted through a three-step process, starting with a referral to Trustiics from a registered lawyer.
Trustiics’ services currently cover China, Canada, the U.S. and Brazil, with its legal network expanding to a number of other countries. Currently, Trustiics has over 6,000 individual members using its platform, as well as 350 registered businesses. Its services are recommended by organizations such as the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, and the Canada China Business Council.
One client is a Philadelphia-based e-commerce company that designs, manufactures and sells sports bikes and parts. “They tried to protect their IP in China because they manufacture their products over there,” Wang explains. However, the company had no legal service contacts in China. “They were recommended by their lawyer in the U.S. to use our platform,” Wang says — and the rest is history.
Just as Wang launched Trustiics in 2020, the pandemic hit. “You want to run,” he says. “You get ready, you start to run — boom! — you bump into a wall.”
But, Wang adds, there’s an opportunity in every challenge. Seeing the overall shift to online services, Wang’s team became even more convinced that Trustiics’ model was spot-on, allowing people to “solve their overseas legal problems without leaving their home,” Wang says.
With an eye to the future, Trustiics is exploring using big data, blockchain, cloud security and fintech to improve its security and efficiency when serving businesses remotely.
As well as increasing its offerings in China, Canada and the U.S., Wang wants to increase Trustiics’ presence in countries like Brazil, Vietnam and Malaysia — on top of finishing another round of VC financing and hiring more people from local markets.
“We have a very ambitious plan,” Wang says.
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