Jusbrasil — Founders Fund’s new investment that happened by accident

Jusbrasil’s founding engineers and founders, from left to right: Osvaldo Matos Jr., Gustavo Maia, Luiz Paulo Pinho, Rodrigo Barreto, Daniel Murta and Rafael Costa.

Strikingly to most, Founders Fund has recently led an investment round in our company Jusbrasil, a startup that is not even close to the São Paulo / Rio area but right next to the warm beaches of the northeast of Brazil.

Very few people know Jusbrasil in the tech scene, even in Brazil. PR is not really our thing, as we are more of the Jan Koum style and rather focus all the energy on the product, but since every single person we talked to about this investment said we had to announce it, here we are :-)

We’re based in Salvador and here is where this huge marketplace is emerging, fueled by what’s an inspiring mission to us: connect people to justice.

Jusbrasil connects people & lawyers through legal information for better access to justice.

Jusbrasil works in two fronts towards this mission:

  1. user generated content to make legal information easily accessible and understandable to all;
  2. a marketplace to provide everyone with easy access to the right lawyer.

Simply put, it’s like Medium / Quora meets Thumbtack in the legal space.

The gap

The underlying problem is that very few people facing relevant legal situations are aware of their rights, due to lack of information and the legalese, and only a subset of those actually enforce their rights when needed, given the enormous friction to find the right attorney.

This problem is known as the justice gap.

Michael Mansfield stresses the importance of bridging this gap asserting the obvious but apparently forgotten idea that “at the heart of any notion of a decent society is not only that we have rights and protections under the law but that we can enforce those rights and rely upon those protections if needed.”

The justice gap is even a bigger problem to lower income people, as the Brennan Center for Justice points out:

“…our courts face a crisis of access. Eighty percent of low income people have trouble obtaining legal representation or otherwise accessing the civil court system to protect their property, family, and livelihood.”

Jusbrasil’s numbers point in the same direction. 44% of surveyed users who hired lawyers through the platform reported they didn’t think they could hire one; they perceived legal services as extremely expensive and unaccessible until getting service offers through Jusbrasil.

It seems like a trivial task but finding the right lawyer requires finding someone who 1) has had experiences solving problems very similar to yours, 2) is close to you, 3) fits your budget and 4) is available when you need him/her.

Matching these four criteria is not an easy task at all. Our work is to remove most of the friction in this process.

Impact

We believe that just by informing people about their rights we already bring them a lot closer to justice as they get better at preventing and solving conflicts themselves. However, when this is not enough and additional enforcement is needed, a lawyer is necessary and easily finding the right one makes a big difference.

Both approaches, legal education and a great client-lawyer matchmaking, are powerful contributions to closing the justice gap.

On top of this, lawyers also benefit a lot. Jusbrasil provides a great source of knowledge to them, amplifies the legal market, increases their efficiency and brings autonomy back to them. They can, thus, focus again on becoming the best lawyer rather than the best marketer or seller.

Summing up

Jusbrasil is all about explaining people’s rights and eliminating information asymmetry when matching clients and lawyers.

Numbers

Some interesting numbers we’ve reached so far:

  • 20MM MAUs — #1 legal website worldwide, according to Similarweb
  • 750k attorneys or 75% of Brazilian attorneys have created their profiles in Jusbrasil
  • 10k new publications / questions answered a day
  • $20M+ monthly GMV, growing 400% YOY

Investors

We bootstrapped from 2008 to 2013 and during that time we became the leading legal website in Brazil.

In 2013 we were glad to have some funds approaching us, including Monashees, which ended up leading our first investment round — with the participation of Bertelsmann. We have since received amazing support from them and understood the meaning of smart money. Their backing enabled us to grow at a faster pace, consolidate our online community and kickstart Jusbrasil as a legal marketplace.

We are now very happy to welcome Founders Fund aboard and open up a whole new and powerful knowledge network to us.

What's a particularly funny story about the Founders Fund investment is that it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for a happy mistake.

Just so you to get the picture, Jusbrasil faces an extra challenge, when raising money, for being a truly innovative business in an emerging market. Many investors don’t like to take on both risks. This is, for instance, what Fabrice Grinda clearly states as part of his investment strategy: “We invest in new innovative ideas in the US or copies of established ideas in large foreign markets, especially Brazil, Germany, Russia and Turkey.” Add that to the fact that we wanted a Silicon Valley world-class fund for this second round, in order to extend our network and get international validation.

So there we were, trying to find a great new investor for Jusbrasil, generating a lot of interest and having great conversations with investors, sometimes clearly impressing them, but getting no-go after no-go… "we don't invest in Brazil", "we have never invested in Brazil and it would take us time to figure out how to do it", "we are not investing in legal" and so on… That's when we decided to change course a little bit and narrow our contact efforts down to funds which had invested in legal tech.

Founders Fund had never invested in legal tech, so they were out of our contact list… Or at least they were supposed to be, if we hadn’t mistakenly included a Founders Fund’s member email on it; someone we barely knew. Ooooops. 😂

Turns out we were a fit for Founders Fund’s investment thesis of potentially monopolistic businesses and they replied positively. After four calls I got a term sheet from Geoff without even meeting in person.

We ended up with even more offers, but Founders Fund was a perfect fit: a world-class fund we have always admired for its amazing team and contrarian ideas proved right.

As the comedian Tina Fey once said: “there are no mistakes, only opportunities.”

Future

We see an exciting future ahead of Jusbrasil as we’ve been able to bring together incredibly talented people who couldn’t be prouder of working on an exceptionally meaningful mission and having found a strong business model to support it.

Motivation is at peak and keeps going up. Feels like the game has just begun. 👊

Team selfie by Gabriel Azevedo. Happiness is not a scarce resource in Jusbrasil.

More about Jusbrasil

If you want to know more about Jusbrasil or work with us, leave me a private note here or drop me a line in Twitter — DM is open.

We are looking for humble people, who identify with our mission, learns fast, get things done and want to have a lot of fun and a rather unique experience in Salvador. Front / Back / Full-stack Engineer, Machine Learning Applied Scientist / Engineer, Product Manager and Head of Product are a few examples of open positions. Fun is guaranteed.