In the summer of 2015, Stanford-bound high school grad Josh Browder spent his nights coding and developing an automated program that would help people contest parking tickets. The native Londoner had recently gotten his driver’s license, and had himself assembled a respectable collection of fines, some of which he felt were unjustly rewarded.
About three weeks later, Browder already had a product called DoNotPay which he shared with his friends. A blogger from Reddit picked up on it, and almost overnight, DoNotPay went from meager 10 people using it to whopping 50,000 users.
Today, the company announced it closed a $12 million Series A at an $80 million valuation. Coatue led the round, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund and Felicis Ventures. All had previously invested in the company’s $4.6 million seed round.
DoNotPay, which Browder likes to call the “world’s first robot lawyer,” has gone from helping people with their parking tickets to assisting with over 100 different areas of consumer rights. “In the crisis times that we live in, lots of big companies are using consumers as a lifeline,” Browder, who’s the company’s founder and CEO, says. “You see this with airlines as they refuse to refund people and instead they issue them a travel credit, just because they know they can get away with it.”
The platform offers automated legal help with customer service disputes like airline flight compensation or cancelling subscriptions (during Covid-19 the usage of this category has increased by over 30 times), suing companies in small claims courts, jumping customer service phone queues, or analyzing accounts and finding hidden money (such as bank or overdraft fees).
For example, after fitness chain 24 Hour Fitness filed for bankruptcy, over 1,000 users had sent cancellation requests through DoNotPay in just one day. Bowder says that DoNotPay hit its millionth filed case last month, the number of subscribers is in the high five figures, and the company is break even. It operates in the United States and the United Kingdom, with 90% of the users located in the U.S.
The way the platform makes money is by charging users $3 per month. Browder says that the company doesn’t take a percentage of what they save and has no ads or selling data business. Though Browder isn’t a lawyer by trait, he says that the platform works with lawyers and specifically with the American Bar Association, which in January honored DoNotPay with its ABA Award Brown Award for its “commitment to increasing legal services to those of modest means.”
Browder says that the money that DoNotPay helps users save would otherwise end up lost in government bureaucracy or in the pockets of Fortune 500 corporations, which according to him “have a business strategy of being as tough as possible to the consumer.” “What we try to do is give the ordinary people the same power in the legal system as large companies,” Browder says.
In 2017, Browder, the age of 21 made the Forbes’ European 30 Under 30 law and policy list. Today, his San Francisco-based company, which hires eight people, has raised a total of $16.6 million.
by Igor Bosilkovski courtsey Forbes.
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