How the startup DoNotPay got their first 35,000 customers in just 7 days from launch!

🧐What an unusual name...

The DoNotPay app is the home of the world's first robot lawyer. Their tagline is "Fight corporations, beat bureaucracy, and sue anyone at the press of a button." DoNotPay helped users get out of parking tickets, get compensated for delayed flights, cancel subscriptions, and jump the line with customer service representatives... all without having to break a sweat. They charge a subscription fee of 3$/month that only starts once customers save some money!

🏗Build for yourself...build for yourself..build for yourself

Getting your very first customer is a milestone to celebrate, and if you are building a product for yourself, then congrats, you made it past the first stop in this long, lonely and dreadful journey of being a founder. DoNotPay, as many other great companies, started by a founder frustration. Joshua Browder, 18 at the time, had just gotten his driving license and racked up a portfolio of 30 or so parking tickets within nine months. He didn't have the money to pay for these $100-$200 tickets and so he had to find creative ways to get out of them. After 10 hours of researching how to get tickets dismissed, Joshua figured out that it was easier than anticipated. All he had to do was draft legal letters to the concerned authorities. These letters often had grounds because the government did not follow its own rules when issuing tickets (they didn't have a sign to indicate how to park, the parking spot was too small for a car to fit in..etc). He managed to get 50% of his tickets dismissed, and boy was he onto something.

👭👫So you build a product for yourself, now what?

Then it would be helpful if you found a handful of people just like you, start with your friends, family, and extended network. This is what Joshua did, for the next ten users, he showed his solution to a few friends at Stanford and told them they too could get out of parking tickets if they use DoNotPay. Given that there was no revenue at the time, it must have been worth at least a try! And for him, he managed to get some valuable feedback to incorporate into the product for the big launch.

🚀Going from a handful to many many thousands

Unlike other stories we have covered in this newsletter, DoNotPay went from 1 user(Joshua) to 10 Users(Stanford Friends) to 35,000 users in just one week. So let's dive into how Joshua created one of the best go to market strategies in the past decade or so.

  • Relentless focus on his channels.

 DoNotPay focused all their energy and effort on two key channels. Media Exposure and Reddit. They did not A/B test a bunch of experiments or try out a plethora of channels. They knew it was hard enough to get picked up by any major publication, and any article published they could then post on subreddits to increase their reach even further. They didn't have giveaways. They didn't have referral programs; they just went relentlessly after reporters for coverage.

  • Drafting a good story.

It all came down to clicks. How can Joshua craft a pitch that reporters would know it can generate clicks? If you took storytelling 101 in middle school, you know that for any story, you need a hero and villain + a few buzzwords won't hurt. 

- Villian: Government Buearacy, gov bill their citizen unjustly to hit their budget

- Hero: 19-year old created a free solution to help you fight government Buearacy

- Buzzwords: Stanford, 19 years, World's First Robot Lawyer, 'daylight robbery'..etc

  • The Good Old Hustle.

Lots and lots and lots of these.

Every time Joshua managed to get featured in a publication, he would use that and show it to other reporters and ask them if they too would want to run a piece on his company.

During their first week's launch, they got featured in This is Money, Telegraph UK, Mirror UK, Mashable, Huffington Post and many others. These articles would soon (in a couple of days) start showing up across some of the largest subreddits like r/technology. It is unclear whether they have been picked up organically by hardcore Reddit users or whether the team at DoNotPay had something to do with it. Either way, they pulled off 35,000 users in launch week and 50,000 in the first couple of weeks, and ohhh btw..they were only accepting customers in the UK at the time!

That's it for today! See you next Saturday 😉,

Ali Abouelatta