Paperform was founded with a vision: to facilitate a world where small business owners spend less time on work and more time on the things that matter.Dean and Diony with the things that matter: their two eldest boys, Sterling and Freddie, in 2020. (They’ve since added two more beautiful boys.)
Every idea starts with a problem. For our founders, Dean and Diony, it was simple: they loved their work, but were sick of it being replaced by tedious, boring, busywork. Spending hours sitting in meetings, responding to emails, filling in spreadsheets. Diony ran into her fair share of this as a Manager at Google, and as a web dev for a startup, Dean was no stranger to this kind of thing either.
Now, maybe it was Dean’s degree in philosophy, which made him particularly aware of the futility of it all. Maybe it was that, like most of us, the mere sight of the Excel icon made him break out in hives. Either way, he knew there must be a better way to do things—which is when he realised he could set up forms to automate these processes, and cut down on all this so-called ‘work’.
As it turned out he was good at it. Really good at it. And his bosses loved him, because these forms let computers do the heavy lifting and freed up time for them to do other things. Things that mattered. That meant something. Playing with their kids. Taking their dogs to the beach. Going to salsa lessons. Avoiding the office. Watching The Office. For Dean and Diony, it meant they could spend more time together.Dean and Diony celebrating their 10-year anniversary in 2021, ready for a night out on the town.
Then one day, a mate, let’s call him Chris, asked Dean to recommend a form builder for his business. He couldn’t. Not in good conscience at least. See, all of the existing solutions were needlessly complex, frustrating to use, limited in their functionality, and just plain ugly. So, being (1) a good mate, and (2) a huge nerd, Dean built the form himself. It was for a school holiday camp, and it went off without a hitch. We like to picture kids roasting marshmallows by the campfire, and singing ballads about how well this was all running thanks to Dean’s form. Did it happen? Probably not, but we can dream. We’re good at that at Paperform.
In the movie version this would be the ‘aha!’ moment, but life’s rarely so clean. It took a few years of building forms for mates like Chris for the business idea to blossom. Over time, Dean and Diony started to think that if they could have such an impact on their mates' businesses, there was a fair chance they could help other small businesses too. Plus, they lived in Sydney, the land of $5 lattes and million dollar houses—a side gig seemed like a good way to bring in more cash, and might even give them a shot at buying a home to raise their kids in.
And with that, Paperform was formed. Cue the montage: five months of building and beta testing the product, filling out paperwork (ironic, right?), scribbling on whiteboards, making life-changing decisions from their kitchen table while devouring Vegemite toast. The usual. Once they had an MVP, Dean and Diony launched their new digital baby with hopeful, albeit modest expectations…Dean and his eldest son, Sterling, at the kitchen table.
… It didn’t quite work that way. They were overwhelmed by an avalanche of customers. As it turned out, a lot of people were looking for smarter, prettier forms. People were relieved to feel in control of their own solutions, inspired by the flexibility of the product, and proud to share what they’d built. Plus, boy was it beautiful. There wasn’t anything on the market that offered that combination of beauty and brains.
Paperform grew. Fast. Within two months it had 3,000 paying users. Within three, Dean and Diony quit their jobs to work on it full-time. By month six they had moved from the kitchen table to a new place with a dedicated home office. Five years on, this rapid growth has only increased, as Paperform has grown from a side hustle into a multi-million dollar company with a global community and over 20 incredible employees from around the world.
That’s not where the story ends. Paperform started as a form builder, but our customers were constantly looking for ways to to use the platform wherever they could (like how some people want to put Nutella on everything). Likewise, Dean and Diony were searching for ways to better enable small businesses to solve their problems, their way. That led to us launching a slew of functionalities: payments, subscriptions, bookings, calculators, native integrations, and lots, lots more.
With each new feature we strayed further from being a form builder, but edged closer to our mission of empowering small business owners to concentrate on the bits of their business they love, while freeing up more time to enjoy life. We’re no longer just a form building tool. We’re much more. We’re the way you stay on schedule. The way you sell products. The way you keep organised, get paid, understand customers, and entertain your audience. We’re the way you tip the work/life balance back toward life. We just happen to be a form builder too.
At Paperform we strive to empower our customers and our team to live fulfilling lives at work and at home. We reckon folks do their best work when they’re happy and autonomous. That being productive doesn’t mean sitting at a computer for 12 hours a day. That actions speak louder than words, and that your digital tools should help make work easier, smarter and more beautiful. We believe in going above and beyond, and being there for you, not just your business.
We distil all this into five core values that we work by. These influence us each day—whether we’re pushing back on design changes, striving for high quality work, or arguing about whether pineapple belongs on pizza. (It does). We want to share them to show what we stand for as a company, and how we think about serving you better every day.
By upholding these values we can do our best work and be proud of the company, our teams, and the contribution we make to the lives of our customers and the wider world. It’s a lofty dream, but what fun are dreams if they aren’t a bit lofty?
Our team is made up of a wonderful, eclectic assortment of personalities from all around the world. We’ve got introverts and extroverts; gamers and surfers; a former podiatrist, two former chefs and multiple fans of trashy reality TV. We’ve also got Danny, who can’t quite be summed up with a pithy one-liner, except to say he’s basically what it’d be like if Bruce Wayne got into code instead of becoming a superhero.
“Family” is way overused in tech, but that’s what we are—we fight and argue, party and make fun of each other, celebrate successes and commiserate our losses. We’re there for each other on good days and bad. If that doesn’t make us family, well, what does?
Meet the team below:
Hopefully, you’ve gotten a good idea of why we started Paperform and where we’re headed as a company. Helping build a world with less work won’t happen overnight. So, try the product! Chat with our support crew! Join the team! We’re all in this together—and we’ll need people like you to make our vision a reality.