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How DoNotPay chatbot got over 35k users within 7 days after launch (10 min read)

DoNotPay – a law chatbot that generates documents to avoid parking tickets, cancel subscriptions, fight spam, and in general „fight corporations” and „beat bureaucracy”. Or sue anyone. It became a hit in the UK and US.

?Strategy & Tools

DoNotPay History Timeline


  • End of Aug 2015 – Joshua Browden, a 18-year-old student from North London who later got on to Stanford University, launches DoNotPay
  • Aug 27, 2015 – the first coverage from HuffPost
  • Aug 28, 2015 – speaking opportunity on BBC Radio
  • Sep 2, 2015 – the first news sites such as ThisIsMoney, Daily Mail, Business Insider, and more pick up the story and share it with their users. The number of sign-ups causes the website to crash just days after the launch.
  • Sep 4, 2015 – 15 registrations per minute
  • Sep 5, 2015 – the platform reaches 35,000 users
  • Sep 17, 2015 – another 50,000 users in a week
  • Dec 2015 – DoNotPay has already served over 86,000 people with over 40% success rate.
  • Jul 30, 2021 – a $10M investment from Andreessen Horowitz, Lux Capital, Tribe Capital, Day One Ventures and Felicis Ventures–at a valuation of $210M and with 250,000 users.

Who is the founder of DoNotPay app?

DoNotPay app was founded and created by Joshua Browden when he was an 18-year-old student from North London. Now he is a British-American entrepreneur.

Solving a real issue

The problem with most startups is that they don’t solve real problems. With DoNotPay, the problem was rather vivid as the founder got over 30 tickets for parking. He was unable to cover them for $100-200 each, so he went through the appeal process and found out that it’s very easy. He then wrote a program that scanned thousands of pages of documents released on Freedom of Information request and used that to generate appeals. It turned out most of them were successful, so the time invested has quickly paid off.

DoNotPay robot lawyer marketing – Hitting the right market niche

No one likes to get a parking ticket, especially when most fines are issued for trivial reasons. DoNotPay robot lawyer marketing strategy focused on addressing that problem. Over 10 million parking tickets are issued in Britain each year, so it’s a massive market to serve.

How does DoNotPay make money?

DoNotPay offers its services for a subscription fee of $36 every three months. As of July 2021, DoNotPay robot lawyer app was charging $144 annual fee, and it had about 250 thousand customers.

DoNotPay robot lawyer marketing – Getting media’s attention

Media’s mission might be to inform, but most of them are also selling viewers’ attention to their advertisers. This means they’re on the lookout for stories that are likely to go viral, as that boosts their viewership. At the same time, competing media are often carefully following each other and if there’s a story that goes viral, they’ll copy it just for the sake of getting a fraction of the traffic for that.

In such settings, it’s quite easy to sell a story about a teenager who wrote an app to fight parking tickets. It has everything for the end user to click and read it. And once it has been picked up by the first mainstream title, The Huff Post, then it was followed by other big media outlets and this created massive buzz.

Media outreach

Of course, the story didn’t get to media on its own. You can see Browder’s tweet to Unilad’s journalist asking for a feature, and this exposes that the media outreach was the strategy here. Joshua must have contacted various media and some of them picked up the story naturally. Once the relation has been made, later stories about product updates were more likely to get featured and create buzz quicker.

Product messaging

The product messaging is really consistent across the media, and it always showcases the benefit – you might’ve received a parking ticket but with this app, you have about 40% of chances (initially 60% in the case of Browder and his friends and family) to win the appeal. That’s enough to register and use the platform.

DoNotPay robot lawyer marketing – Product Hunt

The platform has been added to Product Hunt, where it became top #3 startup of the day at that time.

Word of Mouth

The initial growth has been driven by word of mouth too. The platform has been shared with Joshua Browden’s friends and family first to test and with over 30 tickets collected from them, over 60% were cancelled after an appeal. That really was something, wasn’t it.

The other aspect is that when media informed that the user base had reached 86,000, over 51,000 were coming from London. That means that almost 2/3 of the users came from one city, and it must’ve been referred to friends.

Adding features, getting features

After solving the initial problem, Browder quickly began to add more and more features that followed the platform’s mission to fight bureaucracy and corporations. Among those, you could find a virtual credit card that allowed to securely participate in free trials or learn the details of robo consultants to sue them.

DoNotPay quickly became a favorite tech story for the likes of Business Insider, and they’ve  covered it many times later, after new feature releases. They all can be seen on the Google Trends chart, contributing to making the site even more popular. 

Delivering on promises

A quick way to make people hate your product is to overpromise. The promises are big and hit the right nerve, as most people  want to either save time or make money. This app promises to save you some costs or even „find hidden money” with a doze of certainty. The data shared by the platform – over 40% success rate – shows that there are many customers that were successful when using the app, while they were also informed that the success is not guaranteed. 

Positive reviews

DoNotPay robot lawyer marketing was heavily based on SEO. Once the platform took off, it relies much on SEO, getting 84% of the 2.9M traffic from search. The rule is simple–the solutions to certain cases are describe on the page, getting search traffic, while the CTA button with „Solve the problem for me” text is easily visible. Many people who read about solutions actually want somebody to do it for them – that’s the perfect customer journey.

DoNotPay robot lawyer marketing – SEO

DoNotPay robot lawyer marketing was heavily based on SEO. Once the platform took off, it relies much on SEO, getting 84% of the 2.9M traffic from search. The rule is simple–the solutions to certain cases are describe on the page, getting search traffic, while the CTA button with „Solve the problem for me” text is easily visible. Many people who read about solutions actually want somebody to do it for them – that’s the perfect customer journey.

How much is DoNotPay worth?

In the third quarter of 2021, DoNotPay app doubled its valuation at $210 million. Joshua tweeted about it on his Twitter profile, too. The company has a bunch of high-tier investors from whom DoNotPay gets most of the funds.

?Psychology

Reciprocity

In a way, DoNotPay appeals to the reciprocity effect – people’s urge to give back. With the website, they can get much more for than $3/month subscription – they can avoid a ticket worth a few hundreds of dollars or cancel an expensive subscription and get a refund.

People whose appeals were successful are likely to share the app with the world, as they feel they received much more than they paid.

Social Proof

Those who were successful often go to Twitter to spread the love for the app. There are numerous people like them as even with 86,000 users and 40% success rate, that’s still a good 34,400 of happy customers, which was boosting the DoNotPay robot lawyer marketing even more.

New users are encouraged to try the app when reading positive reviews, as when in doubt, we tend to look at what others are doing and recommend.

Framing

People’s decisions are based on how the choices are presented. It also works for how a story is told, and the journalists picked it up because it was sold to them in an attractive format.

Storytelling

Stories are far more remembered than facts. A simple message about launching a new app that can cancel you a parking ticket would be dull. But if it’s been written by a 17-year-old who got many tickets and avoided many of them with machine learning – that’s what the readers will engage more with.

?Window of Opportunity

You often don’t have to have a massive budget to launch an app successfully. Although the story happened a few years from now, the mechanism is likely to still work – sell a good story to the journalists and work on making them write about it in multiple media simultaneously. You’ll then create a buzz that can take your app to becoming a viral. 

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