Life in Tech: The AI-first document editor on a quest to disrupt Google Docs

By Rajveer Oberoi, MEng ’24 (ME)


The following essay won the “Life in Tech” category in this year’s Berkeley MEng op-ed contest. In this contest, Master of Engineering students were challenged to communicate an Engineering-related topic they found interesting to a broad audience of technical and non-technical readers.

Note: As opinion pieces, the views shared here are neither an expression of nor endorsed by UC Berkeley or the Fung Institute.

Cal is awesome. Not because of the Consulting Clubs, Yoghurt Park, or even Memorial Glade on a sunny Friday afternoon. It’s awesome because of the people. I met two Cal students who are younger than me but are killing it so hard that it gives me anxiety about my own career aspirations.

I’m talking about Declan and Derek from JotBot. These kids (I don’t know how old they are and I’m too afraid to ask) are building an AI-First document editor to disrupt Google Docs and Notion. With 500k users and $25k in monthly recurring revenue, their product has gained significant traction. This semester, they took the leap of faith and are taking time off school to work on their startup full time.

What is JotBot? How does it work?

JotBot integrates AI text generation, with industry standard document editing features, to empower users with enhanced writing capabilities. The document editor utilizes machine learning to analyze your writing style and subsequently generate stylized text.

This entire article was written using the platform, blending AI and Human writing. The feature I like most is the ability to weave my written words with AI generated snippets. If I hit the ‘++’ keys the editor will generate a sentence based on my prior writing. Instead of having to prompt ChatGPT, which has no context on what I’ve written so far, and copy paste the output into my document editor, I can use JotBot to bring AI text generation to my fingertips. The product offers a range of features, which the founders are refining into its core functionality. Rather than me explaining everything, I recommend trying it out for yourself.

In addition to building a great product, the two have done a fantastic job at bringing users to the platform. Their viral TikToks have reached 100 million people; my favorite one is a video targeted at students with an impending essay deadline. Directing the desperate viewers to their newly minted domain “I have an essay due at midnight that I really don’t want to do .com” Declan and Derek drove massive traffic to JotBot. However, this spike in growth hasn’t converted to as many paying customers as they’d like. They’ve subsequently shifted their focus to building a product that not only attracts users, but is so good that people are willing to pay.

You might be wondering, how do I know so much about their company? Do I get constant updates from these dudes? No. I just follow them on X. Where the pair are building in public. They share highs and lows with their followers, and at this point I’m invested in their journey.

Derek tweeted about working on a product feature for 12 hours with little to nothing to show for it. He ended the passage on a positive note, implying that work without reward is a part of the entrepreneurial process.

Declan posted about how they suck at ads, specifically, that they aren’t doing a great job of converting TikTok clicks into paying customers. The unfiltered nature of this tweet is something I particularly admire, especially in a social media landscape shaped by glamorization.

I finally reached out to Declan and had a conversation with him about his background. A serial entrepreneur, his first business venture was back in middle school where he bought Rubik’s cubes in bulk and sold them at a markup out of his locker. When the Vice Principal shut down his suburban Temu, he shifted his focus to building virtual community of sneaker resellers.

Next, Declan met his co-founder Derek here at Cal and they built a social alarm clock, which allowed people to wake up to the voice of their friends. Through their prior entrepreneurial ventures, the pair have learned about resilience, product development, and marketing. Finding a balance seems key to building a lasting business.

Currently, they are stationed at Build Space, an SF based incubator for early-stage startups. Marching toward their goal of 100k MRR by June, they’ve added a third to help attack this mission.

Declan and Derek had an itch to make a useful product, and they are chasing this goal with laser focus. They’ve learned to overcome hurdles related both to business and technology, while managing to document their journey along the way. The pair are emblematic of what makes Cal special, ambitious students who mold their own future. They’ve done a great job of showing us what’s possible; being courageous and building unique products is withing arm’s reach, it’s just a matter of getting started.

Remember, if you have an essay due at midnight, is the place to go.



Berkeley Master of Engineering
Berkeley Master of Engineering

Master of Engineering at UC Berkeley with a focus on leadership. Learn more about the program through our publication.