Raad Ahmed
April 29, 2022

How we found product market fit

A Conversation with Bryan Pham for the Asian Hustle Network podcast

Bryan: At what point did you realize that you had product market fit and how did you

advertise this product?

Raad: It started out with my co founder and I knocking door to door with a square

reader and going on Yelp. We started charging people $300 to join the platform and

promising them clients, even though we had no idea how we would get any. Then, we

realized that actually getting lawyers to pay for your services is a harder problem

to solve for.

It started off as this SAS subscription model and we allowed lawyers to upload

their real time availability. It was similar to a Zocdoc for lawyers where people with

clients can go in, click a slot, get a consultation, get the lead and they would pay us

in exchange for that. That wasn't really good at product market fit, It wasn't

sustainable. We were going after so many different practice areas from divorce lawyers,

to personal injury lawyers and we were spread too thin. Eventually we focused around

startups and small businesses.

We thought that we had product market fit at that time, but it really wasn't. Yet, it was

enough for us to get the attention of 500 startups because we were growing. We were

doing a few thousand dollars in revenue a month and it was picking up.

In terms of social network and how we marketed, I utilized Quora which is a Q&A site to

filter by all the legal questions that people were asking. I cracked open my old law

school textbooks and began answering hundreds and thousands of them for free

and I would link Lawtrades at the bottom for people to check it out. It resulted in a lot

of people visiting the website.

What's cool about Quora is it also picks up with SEO. So if its a really

popular question, people can type it on Google and then Quora will usually

be the first answer there. So not only do you get Quora's traffic, you get

Google SEO traffic as well. That jump started a lot of our early growth

and a lot of our early users.

Bryan: I know that you initially mentioned that you thought you had a product

market fit, but what was a real pivot that caused the product market fit?

Raad: It's tricky because you can grow your company, get paying customers

and just assume that you have product market fit. Fundamentally, if your

underlying unit economics is not sustainable and your customers aren't

constantly coming back to the platform using it more and more, it becomes

really hard and expensive to grow your product.

We were selling to startups and small businesses and eventually got into 500

startups, which invested around 125K at the time. Then, we eventually raised

a seed round shortly after doing demo, which resulted in raising a little over 3

million dollars. It was led byDraper Associates which is a big VC fund. At that

point,we switched away from just posting on Quora because it wasn't scalable

to continue running more ads on Google and Adwords.

At a certain point, we were spending close to 100 grand a month on Google Ads.

We were acquiring lots of customers and focused on growing the top line revenue

in the business, even though we were actually losing a good amount of money.

The problem with the early stage startup small business segmen, is the vast

majority of them go out of business within the first year.

If you think about when you're starting a company, the last thing you want to

spend a lot of money on frequently is a lawyer. You're trying to hire for engineering,

you're trying to market and spend money on a customer acquisition. When you're

building a marketplace start up, if your demand side usage isn't predictable and

recurring, then that doesn't provide a lot of incentive for your supply side to stay

on board.

So at this time we were losing lots of cash, but we're growing top line revenue.

We were doing anywhere from 100 to 250k in monthly top line gross revenue.

We knew we were going to raise a series A and we were going to figure out this

losing of money thing later on. What ended up happening is we failed to raise our

series A.

At the time, we didn't know why, but then we realized that there was a

competitor that came out that took our idea and raised around 70 million dollars.

It just so happened that he was a famous founder named Justin Kan who launched

his company called Atrium. He raised from every single VC that we spoke with and

we realized why everybody stopped answering our calls. Justin had close to a billion

dollar exit doing a legal tech company, so why would you trust a bunch of nobodies

from Queens to be able to compete with him?

This goes into the second phase of it, we were forced to get profitable. At that time,

it was a travesty me and my co founder stopped taking salaries. We laid off 80% of

our team, and we just had to get profitable. At this point we were all in on Lawtrades,

failure wasn't an option.

It was a blessing in disguise because it forced us to make this pivot into selling to

our true product market fit, which is legal departments in bigger companies. We

now work with companies like DoorDash, Pinterest, Opendoor and Angelist. We sell

to the general counsels within those companies who have a daily legal need. It went

from startups that might have an annual or quarterly legal need, to companies that use

this every single hour because their legal teams are small, but their companies are

growing and scaling.

It seemed we were doomed for failure, but it all made sense. We rebuilt the product

but we used pieces of it that worked for the small business side and tweaked it for

more longer term enterprise level engagement. Finally it all clicked and our LTVs went

from $1,000 to, basically close to a million dollars. We attracted an even better supply

and the revenue was predictable. Then we kept getting more customers which attracted

more supply and allowed us to become cash flow positive based off that pivot.

Atrium and another competitor then ended up going out of business and we survived.

A few weeks ago, we raised our series A.