Paperform is a Sydney based startup co-founded by husband and wife team Dean and Diony McPherson that makes it easy for non-techy people to build versatile and beautiful forms with ease.
Unlike other form builders on the market, Paperform stands out with its flexibility and focus on design. It allows users to go well beyond capturing just simple data in a stock-standard interface and allows you to create a compelling design for surveys, event registration, client on-boarding, lead capture, collecting simple payments, subscriptions and more.
Startup Soda recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dean and Diony after their successful launch of Paperform V2 on Product Hunt. To kick things off we wanted to know more about the approach Paperform takes when it comes to positioning themselves in what is a very competitive market.
As Dean outlined, “at Paperform we like to think of our forms as landing forms, as they are more than just data capture tools; they’re simple landing pages with a powerful form builder built right in”. As Dean went onto explain combining data capture with a well laid out design is critically important as “research shows that visual engagement compels a response from people”.
Since launching Paperform has gone from strength to strength. They are proudly bootstrapped and profitable with Monthly Recurring Revenue sitting at $25,000. Reflecting back on the journey to date and what got all of this started Dean shared where the initial idea came from stating that “as a Developer I’d been asked several times over the years to build a simple payment form for things like events or standalone products. These forms were more complicated than something like Eventbrite, but still needed to be beautiful and customer friendly.”
Furthermore, every time Dean was asked this question he would search the internet to see if a new tool had been created to solve this issue he faced. Time and time again he came up empty when searching for a solution he would be happy to recommend for these needs. This ultimately sparked the idea for creating a form builder that allowed people to create forms that captured the complexity and depth of their requirements, but still looked “sexy” (Dean’s words, not mine 🙂 ).
As Dean outlined, he started building Paperform in July 2016. By December they were ready to launch and did so with a deal on AppSumo. The response and feedback was overwhelming and Paperform ran a very successful campaign that provided the very first paying customers for the service. The response was so good in fact that by March 2017 Dean and Diony has seen enough traction in the market and were able to quit their day jobs and go full time with Paperform.
With a startup that is growing fast and seeing a strong response from the market this may seem easy to do, but as Dean mentioned this was actually one of the biggest challenges: “I’m all for some risk taking, but with a mortgage in Sydney, we really needed the business to support us sooner rather than later. I don’t think there is any magic answer for this, but we delayed leaving work until it was extremely obvious that Paperform was viable.”
Since then, and despite hitting $25,000 in MRR, Dean says that the biggest challenge has been new user acquisition. With Dean’s background as a developer and Diony coming into the business with a background in project management, arts and culture, neither of them had deep experience in marketing. Fortunately however the initial campaign they ran on AppSumo continues to drive results with the organic traffic and word of mouth marketing continuing to see user numbers head up and to the right.
In addition to AppSumo, Product Hunt has been a key driver for Paperform, both at the time of their launch and more recently the announcement of Paperfrom V2. As Dean mentions, “it is trivially easy to get listed on Product Hunt.” He recommends that you do your research on the best practices when launching to make the most of the experience. “It really can generate a whole lot of interest in new startups and also be used as a trust indicator.” For example, Paperform is the most upvoted form builder on Product Hunt.
Looking to the future Dean says that “at the heart of Paperform is our desire to democratize technology. Before we existed, the level of complexity and customization available within our forms could not have been achieved by people unless they had strong technical skills”. As a result Dean and Diony want to continue with this mission and continue to make the depth of functionality available even easier to understand and use.
Over the next twelve months they are focused on generating more content; tutorials, templates, best practices and more. They also plan on developing new and exciting integrations and of course rolling out more features.