Easy Expunctions, an online platform to help people clear their criminal records, received a $100,000 investment from Austin’s Capital Factory — a tech entrepreneurship accelerator that is increasing its statewide presence.
The seed funding award was part of Capital Factory’s San Antonio Startup Challenge that began in December when the organization put out a call to local tech startups. After receiving more than 100 applications, Capital Factory’s investors settled on six finalists.
Easy Expunctions stood out for its clear value proposition and advanced traction in its space, said Joshua Baer, Capital Factory’s founder and executive director.
“It’s really easy to understand why people would care about that [service] and be motivated about it,” Baer said. “They’ve got traction. They’ve proven people want it [and] that they can execute and make it work on a small scale. And, yet, you can easily see how this easily scales across the whole country – why this would work everywhere.”
Baer said Easy Expunctions is ready to raise its first institutional round of funding – venture capital financing rather than funding from deep-pocketed individuals and so-called angel investment firms.
Winning the challenge also places the startup in Capital Factory’s standard accelerator program, which gives them access to investors and mentors that will aim to help propel Easy Expunctions forward.
Easy Expunctions CEO Yousef Kassim said that account creation on the company’s platform has grown 500 percent in the past three months. Operating out of the Vogue Building on Houston Street, the startup employs 16 full-time employees
Kassim, 32, is a licensed attorney and graduate of St. Mary’s Law School. He said he was arrested for “something stupid” while he was attending Trinity University as an undergraduate. The case was dismissed, but with an eye toward becoming an attorney, he went through the expunction process, in which all information is legally removed from the criminal record as though the infraction never occurred.
“I couldn’t afford an attorney at the time, so I learned how to do it on my own,” he said. “I was able to get it done, and I thought this would be a wonderful service.
“We are finding that this a very empowering experience. We’re finding that getting your record expunged reduces recidivism. It gives you a reputation to be able to manage. A lot of people talk about reputation management as a buzzword, but we think this is a prerequisite to having that.”
Criminal record-clearing through an online service is one aspect of Easy Expunctions’ model that can make it more accessible. The other aspect is cost, Kassim said.
According to two Texas law firms’ websites, it can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 in legal fees to clear one’s record. Easy Expunctions’ record-clearing packages range in price from $249 to $499.
Baer said all six of the finalist companies were poised to continue on upward trajectories. The San Antonio startup challenge follows similar contests in Dallas and Houston.
The other five finalists were:
- Cityflag, an online civic engagement tool that uses apps and other web services to connect government and citizens.
- Dearduck, a member of the long-term accelerator RealCo that uses online quizzes and data linkages to tailor advertising and shopping experiences to customers’ personal networks.
- eLumicor, which automates the redaction of names and other identifying information from sensitive materials, such as medical records, government documents, and financial information, during the data-sharing process.
- Medspoke, which has developed what it calls a streamlined process for credentialing medical groups and professionals.
- Neuscience, which manages a data platform composed of images of cancer cells to increase research efficiency, collaboration, and transparency.
Baer said the finalists all had strong connections to San Antonio. That Kassim attended two local higher education institutions is a bonus, he said.
“It’s something others can celebrate as being a win,” he said.