Stanford Grad Who Created The World’s First ‘Robot Lawyer’ Raises $12 Million In Series A
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.”
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.
According to Business Insider, DoNotPay recently raised $4.6 million in seed funding led by Felicis Ventures. Index Ventures, Founders Fund, Highland Capital, Tuesday, and Coatue Asset Management also participated in the round.
In 2017, DoNotPay had raised $1.1 million in seed funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. And Browder was named as a Thiel Fellow by his senior year in 2018 — which is a program set up by investor Peter Thiel that pays students to drop out of college in order to work on ideas full-time.
Browder told Business Insider that he did not want to work at companies like Facebook and Google as a lot of his other classmates are doing. “I want to work on something that gives justice to people and encourages it,” said Browder in the interview.
With this round of funding, Browder is aiming to automate other areas of consumer law. Currently, DoNotPay operates in 100 different areas of local and municipal law. And it is planning to expand to areas like landlord complaints, various types of traffic tickets, and general consumer rights issues.
DoNotPay already expanded into an area that helps consumers sue companies that got hacked and leak personal data. This service launched around the same time as the Equifax data breach. And some of his customers were able to win up to $9,000 in small claims courts against the credit bureau by using DoNotPay’s services.
Essentially, DoNotPay works with paralegals for identifying municipal codes and other hyper-localized laws such as parking limits. And these codes are integrated into the app’s model using machine learning.
And if someone uses the app and the issue matches an existing code, a letter and complaint can be automatically generated for free. DoNotPay generates revenue through a subscription service a user can opt into if they want the company to file the complaint for them.
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