Michelle Craig founder of Transcendent Legal, grew up all over the region, “My father is retired Military. I graduated from Covington High School, attend NSU Scholar’s College in Natchitoches and attended LSU Law School.
Transcendent Legal is a law firm that offers a new and innovative model for the practice of law in the Gulf South Region. Established in 2014, it is the first law firm in the region to combine legal services with technology for the benefit of the client, making Transcendent the first legal-tech startup in the area. Transcendent represents a new level of providing efficiency, quality, and collaboration between client and attorney.
Q: How long has your business been in operation? Is this business your main source of income or do you have other jobs or ventures you also participate in?
A: October 2014; Transcendent Legal is my main source of income. I started Transcendent Legal while simultaneously creating Prosquire, a legal project management software for small to medium-sized firms. Prosquire is the vehicle by which efficient, transparent and effective legal services are delivered to our clients.
Q: How did you get started? Tell us your motivation for starting this business.
A: As a young partner, I had contacts who had legal work that they wanted to give me, but they couldn’t pay my rates. I began to see that the ability to be flexible was necessary if I wanted to help the people that I wanted to service the most… small businesses, start-ups and charter schools. Now, having the flexibility to offer alternative fee arrangements allows me to work with some amazing entrepreneurs. Alternative fees, alternative ways of providing services and offering a streamlined approach to services allows me to give my charter school clients the excellent legal services that they need while respecting their budgets and their goals of servicing our city’s most important asset, our children.
Q: As an African American/Black entrepreneur, what were some of the biggest challenges and/or surprised you faced when starting your business?
A: Black Entrepreneurs have a harder time obtaining venture capital and finding people who have done what they are trying to do. Both of those things are necessary to succeed in any environment. Capital and access to capital are so important when starting a business. Additionally, it is critical to know and work with people who have succeeded at what you are trying to do. It motivates you to keep going and provides a sounding board for some of the challenges that you might face. I’m excited that so many people are starting businesses and making great strides in their area. Hopefully, we will continue to build a pipeline of mentors and professionals who can pass their knowledge on to those who are new to the entrepreneurship game.
Q: New Orleans is such a “robust” entrepreneurial ecosystem. What are the resources (people, networks, organizations, programs, books, articles, etc.) that you have found most useful in starting and/or growing your business?
A: The organizations dedicated to entrepreneurship are plentiful in New Orleans, and there are so many people who are willing to help. I found organizations such as PowerMoves, Idea Village, Collision and others extremely helpful to fill in the gaps about business ownership that I did not know. I also try to incorporate reading about business ownership and growth from authors who have been successful at it.
Q: What advice do you have to fellow African American/Black entrepreneurs starting a business?
A: Be smart. Be methodical, but at the end of the day, just start. It will work out how it should… sometimes that means it won’t work out at all for that particular venture, but that does not mean that the next one won’t work. I read somewhere that the average entrepreneur goes through three business ventures before they have success. Sometimes the whole point of the venture is the lesson. Sometimes the end of it will look very different from the beginning. That’s ok. Just start anyway and let the path lead you wherever you go.
Q: Is there anything you know now that you wished you had known earlier in terms of starting or operating your business?
A: So much. Things change..alot… That’s fine. Understand your business and understand your mission, but also do not be so rigid that you cannot go where the opportunities take you. Preparation is everything. Hindsight is 20/20, of course. There will always be some way that you could have prepared for more, but there are some universals that never change. Find out what those are and do everything you can to set yourself up for success.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share about your business or your personal story?
A: I say this all of the time, but Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, for sure, but it has taught me so much about how resilient I am and about how bad I want it. At the end of the day, talent matters, but resilience matters more.
Want to know more about Michelle Craig…learn more about where she came from when we interviewed her in 2013!
1441 Canal Street, Suite 317, New Orleans, LA 70112