PwrSwitch: Good evidence makes a difference.
Imagine the following scenario… Friends of yours are going through a divorce. Initially the separation goes well, but as the couple begins to discuss parental rights and assets, the situation escalates with email and texts playing a key role in their communications. What role do those messages play in the divorce, and how do they show patterns of behavior?
As it turns out, those messages represent evidence that, if not properly documented or reviewed by counsel or by judges, can lead to poor outcomes. A screenshot of a threat doesn’t mean as much without the background messages that led to the threat. Patterns of behaviour when spoken of can be very ‘he said/she said’, but when you can show that pattern in black and white, it becomes much harder to deny that it happened.
I admit, I never thought about how people approach keeping track of these communications. It turns out that the primary way of tracking the messages is via screenshot… essentially a picture, not searchable, not auditable, and not easily reviewed. According to Carrie Gour, CEO of PwrSwitch, it would take the average individual five hours a week to put this kind of information together. If that person were to ask a legal team to handle that work, you can imagine the costs that would be associated.
“What would help me in this situation?”
That is the question Carrie asked herself after pouring through her electronic communications with her ex. Carrie and her co-founder, Beth Thompson, who had also been in a high-conflict divorce, went from asking themselves that question to realizing that it was a huge issue with the legal community and with people involved in similar situations. That is where the story of PwrSwitch begins.
The first big leap Carrie and Beth took was validating their idea with Platform Calgary. By speaking with the legal community and with people who had been through high-conflict separations, they were able to confirm this was a pain point that they could address with a tool that automated capturing and securely saving emails, texts and phone log details. Beyond this, they identified that the data needed to be stored in two formats—a Word document for easy searching, highlighting and redacting, and a raw format for record purposes—both of which include audit data.
During our call, Carrie shared a recent example of the impact that this level of availability provides. One of her clients was scheduled for a court date. As part of the preparation, the client provided the full communications to opposing counsel. Once the opposing counsel had the opportunity to review the evidence, they chose to settle, rather than going to court. Access to better mobile evidence accelerated access to justice.
Carrie’s team is now working towards expanded capability and is looking at other message platforms as a next step. For a product only one year into development, PwrSwitch is on the right track to becoming the leading mobile discovery tool.
Now as always with this blog, one of the questions is: Why Alberta? Carrie and Beth both love Alberta. Carrie mentioned that it can be frustrating getting a start up moving here as the investment ecosystem for tech startups is still in its infancy. On the other hand, Carrie says being in Calgary has allowed her team to fly below the radar as they built out their technology and they have a strong base product to work with.
PwrSwitch is available for free while people are social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As more people stay home to stop the spread of the virus, there is increased risk for conflict escalation. Offering the tool at no cost was a way for Carrie and Beth to help during the crisis. Check out the details on PwrSwitch on their site: www.pwrswitch.com/
Want to learn more? Tune into my full interview with Carrie Gour: