Lauren identifies a painful problem for attorneys
Imagine, for a second, you’re a top-performing personal injury (PI) attorney.
Do you think you could juggle 50 cases at a time? How about 100...or 150? What about 200 cases?
This was the problem Lauren Sturdivant faced at one of the top PI firms in Charleston. She was constantly fielding client calls and updating them on the status of their case. She said, “Every morning, I walked into my office and I had 30-plus emails and 25-plus voicemails. And more often than not, I was answering the same questions from clients.”
This cut into how much Lauren could earn and led to 60+ hour workweeks. She was stressed, exhausted, and frankly “tired of drowning.”
This environment was toxic, but Lauren knew it wasn’t unusual. Thousands of other attorneys face similar scenarios. And, to make matters worse, their clients also suffer.
Lack of communication is the top complaint clients have regarding their attorneys.
— Lauren Sturdivant, founder of Case Status
“In general, clients are going through an incredibly tough time in their lives,” Lauren explains, “and they want consistent updates on their cases...Lack of communication is the top complaint clients have regarding their attorneys. This disconnect creates distrust with the person that the client should trust more than almost every other person in their life.”
A clear solution...and no way to build it
Lauren knew there was a better way to keep clients in the loop about their case. She imagined a tech tool that would decrease the time attorneys spent on the phone while improving their relationship with clients.
At this point, Lauren knew what would help...but not how to realize it.
She spent months doing research and testing her idea with attorneys in the area. She read everything she could find and looked into accelerators, but she needed a hand with tech to get her idea off the ground.
That’s where we came in.
Two Kritters, a founder, and a whiteboard
We kicked off Lauren’s exciting project with our battle-tested Roadmapping Session.
We started with two Kritters (that’s what we call our team members 😁), Lauren, and a whiteboard. We locked ourselves in the Krit office one Saturday and didn’t come out until we learned as much as possible about the Personal Injury space.
From there, we worked with Lauren to sketch out a roadmap—a detailed plan that would take her from idea to minimum loveable product (MLP).
Minimum Loveable Product (MLP) Goals
(1) Prove the Case Status concept; (2) monetize the product as soon as possible; (3) collect feedback from customers. The MLP did all these things...and still makes up the core of Case Status's product today!
But we faced a familiar challenge—we needed to launch fast and keep costs down...while still designing a beautiful product that would stand out from the competition.
To address this challenge, we looked at what processes had to be in the initial MLP and what processes could be added in later. For example, building a custom signup flow and a payments infrastructure to charge customers automatically is expensive. It’s also something many companies don’t need automated at first.
So, Case Status decided to handle both processes manually, saving roughly $10,000 on the initial build.
👉 Figuring out what to build is a difficult process, but it’s absolutely essential. Read more about how we routinely save founders thousands of dollars with our roadmapping process.
Once we had a roadmap in place, it was time to put our heads down and make Lauren’s vision a reality.
Bringing a brand to life in just 2 weeks
Within two weeks, we created the brand foundation for a powerful and simple legal tech product:
Case Status would be everything the incumbents weren’t: friendly, approachable, modern. It would also walk a fine line; the brand needed to stand out to attorneys (who’d purchase Case Status) while making sense to clients (who’d download Case Status).
These visuals were also an important part of how Lauren planned to raise initial funding.
Raising a friends and family round with a clickable prototype
To bring friends and family onboard, Lauren needed a way to show them her idea.
So we crafted a clickable Invision prototype, four weeks in. It showcased the branding work we did and the value Lauren hoped to deliver to attorneys and their clients.
When I showed the Case Status prototype to friends and family, their eyes lit up.
— Lauren Sturdivant, founder of Case Status
This prototype was instrumental in helping Lauren persuade her friends and family. Lauren said, “When I showed the Case Status prototype to friends and family, their eyes lit up. I explained the problems, and they saw and understood how Case Status solves those problems.” That understanding (and trust in Lauren) helped her secure initial funding.
Curious? Check it out yourself 👇
The prototype also helped Lauren gather crucial customer feedback. That feedback and funding opened the doors for Lauren’s next step.
Launching beta and closing the first deal 4 days in
Bringing a new product to market is never easy, and Case Status was no different. But Lauren’s thorough understanding of the problem and a lean roadmap helped us move quickly.
Even better, Lauren continued building relationships with potential customers. The insights she gathered helped us constantly improve the platform based on customer needs.
Takeaway: don't underestimate customer research
Lauren was very familiar with the problem she was trying to solve. After all, she had 7+ years of experience as an attorney. But that didn't stop her from involving potential customers from the very beginning. At every turn, Lauren put a strong emphasis on understanding her customers and the outcomes they're trying to achieve. It paid off.
The beta was finished three weeks ahead of schedule and launched the first day of a Charleston accelerator program, in August 2017.
The initial numbers painted a compelling picture: attorneys were excited about Case Status.
Within four days, Lauren closed her first deal.
Lauren goes all-in on Growing Case Status
Around the time beta launched, Lauren left her job as an attorney to run Case Status full time. She said, “I am an all or nothing kind of person and I knew that I could never build a company if I was committed to another job. So after doing some financial math, cutting down on expenses, talking to other loved ones who supported me in this journey, I also decided to quit my job.”
She put all her focus on Case Status, capitalized on early traction, and raised another small investment while maintaining close to 90% ownership.
Supporting Lauren’s growing company in a unique way
A third notable thing that happened in this timeframe: the Charleston accelerator program. Lauren began that program the same day beta launched and the same month she went all-in. (Talk about a big month!)
Toward the end of the program, she got an incredible opportunity—a chance to go out to San Francisco, hone her pitch, and get in front of a network of valley investors. The only catch? She’d have to be in San Francisco on Demo Day.
Demo Day is the peak event for most accelerator programs, and founders work toward it over three months. It’s a chance to pitch in front of investors and potential partners, and that makes it a huge deal. Since Lauren couldn’t make it, we stepped in with just 3 weeks to prepare. We know that, in startups, every team member has to be willing to wear a lot of hats. This is true of us as well. When you work with Krit, we’re a part of your team.
Next steps: finding a technical co-founder for scale
The Charleston accelerator was just the beginning of Lauren and Case Status’s quick growth. In mid-2018, Lauren interviewed for another renowned program, Techstars Atlanta accelerator. To strengthen her chances, she began searching for a technical co-founder.
Up until then, Krit had filled this gap. But now, Lauren needed the full-time support a technical cofounder would offer.
So, we connected her with another like-minded entrepreneur, Andy Seavers, who has a strong technical background. It was a good fit. Together, Seavers and Sturdivant continued interviewing for Techstars Atlanta and were ultimately accepted. From there, they leveraged the funding the program provided, and continued improving the product.
Krit steps into a supportive role
Since then, Andy (Case Status’s CTO and co-founder) has led the charge on product development and management, while three Kritters have slid into a more supportive role. Kevin reviews pull requests, provides some app development, and has vetted some hires. Austin provides interface design, and Garrett assists with frontend development as needed.
I feel confident that any time I give Austin a design, it'll come back better than I expect. In my experience, a good designer does that.
— Andy Seavers, CTO and co-founder
Case Status now has a robust team we have the privilege of partnering with. And they’ve made some incredible strides.
Case Status gains more traction in the wild
As more customers used Case Status, Lauren and Andy kept listening to feedback and continued improving the product. The Firm Insights page is a good example.
Many attorneys work for firms managed by partners. While Case Status was extremely useful on the attorney level, it had room to improve on the firm level. Case Status saw this opportunity and created the Firm Insights page, which helps partners see and measure the effectiveness of their staff.
In a glance, partners can track how their attorneys perform across communication, client satisfaction, and other metrics. They can also see how the organization is performing overall. Plus, the activity log demonstrates how often Case Status is being used, and that reinforces the value it provides.
Improvements like this helped Case Status earn even more traction and customers.
Redefining customer experience for the legal industry
Originally, Case Status described itself as the “Domino’s pizza tracker” of your legal case. Instead of following your pizza order from oven to doorstep, you follow your case from accident to settlement. But over time, this analogy proved too narrow for what Case Status was actually doing.
Case Status wasn’t just tracking the legal process for clients (though it does that incredibly well); it was redefining the entire legal customer experience.
This is good news since, in every industry, customer’s expectations are sky-high. Lauren explains, “Clients today want information at the tip of their fingers and are quick to jump ship when things aren't going their way.”
And no wonder. At best, legal proceedings are stressful for clients. At worst, they’re a nightmare.
But with Case Status, firms and attorneys can seriously alleviate the angst clients feel. Attorneys can provide clear, helpful, and routine communication that meets customers right where they are—on their phone.
Meaning, Case Status is more like a robust customer relationship manager (CRM) than a “where’s my order?” app.
Reaching the elusive Product Market Fit
In January 2019, about a year and a half after Lauren went all-in on Case Status, the company started to hit an inflection point that feels mythical for many startups—product-market fit. Sales jumped, customers raved, and the pushback was more about pricing than the product.
Lauren explains, “When we started obtaining amazing use cases from law firm customers about how Case Status was saving them time, reducing phone calls, making happier clients, accelerating firm growth, and gathering data points on improved client satisfaction, we knew we had hit product-market fit.”
Andy Seavers adds, “It was a combination of customers saying the product is life-changing, and then we saw the objections customers had to moving forward were not product-related...they were price or timing related.”
Lauren, Andy, and the rest of the Case Status team’s work was paying off. Instead of wading through the market to find their place, the market started pulling Case Status along.
At the end of the day, we have a strong pulse on the wants and the needs of our customers. And our mission is to serve our customers in the best way possible.
—Lauren Sturdivant, via Attorney at Law Magazine
10,000 cases and $725k with Alabama Futures Fund
As of March 2019, Case Status was being used by 27 firms for more than 10,000 cases. And many of these firms were seeing incredible results. One attorney saved 10 hrs per week and saw higher customer satisfaction rates. Another law firm saw an incredible 85% reduction in calls from current clients.
In short, Case Status was doing exactly what it was designed to do—save attorneys time and save clients anxiety.
Firms weren’t the only ones talking about Case Status, either. Investors were taking note of their success, too.
Raising additional investment for over $2 million in total funding
In early March 2019, Lauren secured $725k in seed funding from Alabama Futures Fund (AFF) and relocated from Atlanta and Charleston to Birmingham AL.
Roughly one year later, Case Status raised a second round of seed funding from BIP Capital. This amount, $1.5 million, brought Case Status’ total funding to over $2 million to date. And it means big things for the Case Status team. The additional funding will help Lauren’s team reach ambitious goals for the future, including additional partnerships and revenue streams.
Lauren says, “We’ve already been experiencing significant growth in the past year. With this new round of funding, we’ll be able to accelerate our growth at a rapid pace into multiple practice areas across the industry. We’re also planning on growing the company with industry veterans so we can better serve law firms.”
The foundation Case Status still relies on today
Lauren has built an incredible foundation for her company with her background, dedication to customer understanding, and passion for creating a better experience. Andy, too, has built a remarkable technical foundation that’s helped scale the company and direct product growth. We take no credit for these things—or for the fundraising success Case Status has had.
But one thing we are proud of is the groundwork we laid over two and a half years ago—groundwork Case Status still relies on today. Andy says he’s worked with a lot of contractors over the past 7 or so years, and the way Krit approached the initial MLP is different. In fact, Andy didn’t really like development agencies...until he met us.
In Andy’s words, “The groundwork that was laid by Krit is different from a lot of contract firms. A lot of firms just get something done, and it doesn’t matter if it’s good code or scaleable.” That approach can work for some startups, Andy says, but it’s bad for longevity. The concept needs to be scrapped and rebuilt pretty quickly. Case Status merited a different approach.
While we worked quickly, we were also careful to write stable code and thorough tests. If we hit a corner, we didn’t cut it—and that’s paid off for Case Status. Despite numerous improvements, Andy says Case Status has “the same core product that we had 2.5 years ago...and that’s somewhat rare.”
We’re proud to have built a foundation Case Status continues to trust and proud to support their incredibly talented team years later.
To learn more, visit casestatus.com or follow them on Twitter at @CaseStatus to say in the loop.
“Krit brought my vision to life, and in the end I not only consider the Krit team to be colleagues, I consider them to be my trusted friends.”
-Lauren Sturdivant, Founder of Case Status