This is a guest post from Richard Mabey, CEO and co-founder of Juro, the contact automation platform. He was previously a corporate and M&A lawyer at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. In 2019, FT Intelligent Business name Richard as one of the top ten legal technologists globally.
It might feel like the pandemic has been with us forever, but when it first arrived in early 2020, it escalated remarkably quickly. We knew things were getting dicey, but one Thursday we were having a welcome lunch for new joiners, and the next Monday I had to tell my staff to work from home indefinitely.
Juro is a B2B SaaS solution - a contract automation platform that helps businesses create and agree contracts at scale within the browser. We anticipated that demand would be affected by coronavirus somehow - but we weren’t sure how. We looked nervously at our OKRs and growth targets, and braced ourselves.
Once lockdown became universal and we looked at user data, the patterns were quite stark. One customer - a food delivery marketplace - saw their contract volume managed in Juro increase 300% week on week as restaurants scrambled to join the platform. Another customer brought their entire HR department into the platform, so they could handle the painful furlough letters or, in some cases, redundancy letters.
We realized that getting legal documents agreed remotely was suddenly front of mind for thousands of people who’d never considered using anything other than a wet signature . Inbound demand from healthcare and delivery-related businesses surged. We didn’t know much about COVID at this point, but we knew we could help.
My co-founder Pavel and I decided that we should launch a free version of Juro to meet that unmet need, and to make sure those affected by the COVID pandemic would still be able to agree contracts remotely.
We’d already planned a freemium launch as part of the roadmap. The problem was that we were a couple of quarters away from being actually ready to do it. We had neither the in-product functionality nor the experience and resources to set up a self-serve onboarding flow for new users.
But no matter - now was the time. We set ourselves a target of one week, briefed the team (at this point, 20 people across two offices in London and Riga), and came up with a plan.
Letting people use the product for free, in theory, was pretty simple - we’d just let them access the product but not issue contracts to recognize revenue. The problems as we saw them were really:
How would we address much bigger demand, and customer support, with a small team?
How would we politely screen out the people that the product couldn’t yet serve?
How would we prioritize COVID-affected businesses?
How would we make sure our existing customers didn’t see any dip in service levels?
And how would we make sure that site visitors who’d usually go on to become fee-paying customers weren’t lost into the free version, cannibalizing our revenue?
It seemed like all these questions had the same answer: we needed as much information as possible about new signups. That way we could funnel them properly to customer success for priority businesses, to sales for BAU prospects, to light-touch onboarding for regular free users, or through a polite rejection flow if we knew we couldn’t help them.
The Minimum Viable Product
We switched our main demo request call-to-action to ‘Get free access’, and had it link through to a Typeform. The form was much longer than our normal demo form - instead of stopping at name, company, email and phone number, we needed to know much more. What industry did they work in? What integrations might they need? Were they looking to automate simple NDAs , or complex, highly negotiated agreements?
Version 1.0 of freemium sent this data to a Google sheet where leads were triaged and enriched. Businesses on the front lines of COVID were sent to customer success for onboarding; would-be sales prospects were sent to sales for the ordinary follow-up that comes after a demo request; people we couldn’t help, like law firms, received a polite rejection; and the rest were put in an email cadence that showed them around the product, with little input from Juro.
We launched with a quick and dirty PR plan in the legal tech press, and within the first 24 hours we had 200 new users to work with.
When we crunched the data the following week, we found that:
Around 10% were disqualified
Around 25% were passed to sales
Around 40% were given low-touch access
And 25% were manually onboarded, becoming active users.
Monthly active users tripled in the first month of lockdown, and by 2021, the increase is more like 5x. It’s hard to overstate how useful this influx of users was when it came to improving and building out the product - there’s no better way to stress-test B2B SaaS then to throw hundreds of users at it, and the insights we gathered are still being implemented in our roadmap today.
Perhaps more gratifying were the businesses we were able to help. There were restaurant groups partnering with delivery platforms, healthcare providers automating their contract bundles for FDA approvals, and ride-sharing apps partnering with local businesses to keep goods moving.
As time wore on, the overhead of triaging and assigning the leads started to wear on the team. It became clear that unfortunately COVID wasn’t going anywhere, and we’d be in some form of lockdown for quite some time.
That being the case, for the second iteration of freemium, we decided to remove the Typeform entirely and just take people directly from the ‘Get free access’ button to the product itself. Instead of the long form up front, we use automation and enrichment software to gather information about users after they’ve signed up, offering support from sales or CS as appropriate depending on their behavior.
We also gradually introduced volume limits on the contracts people can bring into Juro to make sure that if a business has a genuine use case for the product, and a viable business that’s likely to grow, they can access the advanced features and support that come with a paid implementation.
Looking back now, it was a huge project that we somehow achieved in a really short period of time - but I’m confident that it was the right thing to do. And as a CEO trying to lead colleagues through an uncertain time, it felt great to be uniting the team behind a desire to do something - anything - to help our little corner of the internet adapt to the new reality. Many of those freemium users are still with us, getting deals done, almost a year later.
This is a guest post from Richard Mabey, CEO and co-founder of Juro.