December 22, 2022

Paperbox 2022 Wrapped-up: Three lessons

Dear reader,

As I’m writing this, we are closing 2022, the first full Paperbox year since we launched in April 2021. How exciting!

I couldn’t be more proud of what our team has achieved over the last twelve months. With this message, I want to highlight three crucial lessons.

Lesson number one. Look inside. 👀

There’s a lot to learn from other businesses. From the world of SaaS. PMF, LTV, CAC, ACV, ARR, you know the buzzwords! What we learned is that we will build Paperbox in our own way. There is no template. And that’s okay. We don’t need to copy what others do. We can and should be confident that our way will work.

Lesson number two. PMF, you sure about that? 🙋🏻‍♀️

If you believe you have product-market-fit, it’s good to take a step back and examine what that means. Beyond the buzzword. It’s not because you have a few early customers in a segment, that you are ready to scale. When multiple similar customers with the same use case and implementation say they can’t live without Paperbox, then we will invest in scaling. We’re starting to really understand what market research means. Why they buy. How they buy. Why they stay.

Lesson number three. To raise or not to raise. 💸

We overturned our decision to raise. We could probably pull it off if we wanted to. But it’s not the right thing to do today, so we delayed it for now. We need to focus. Keep our team lean and efficient, while we build a strong foundation. Because we went live with our first enterprise insurer pretty much on day one, we were able to grow revenue and team size organically. We bootstrap and manage profitability. Not being dependent on external capital allows us to build the way we like it, at a pace that we like.

It doesn’t mean that we’ve been idle. Quite the opposite! 🏃🏻

We grew our team to 10 beautiful and smart people. Every single one of them has an impact on where we are today and where we go from here. We acquired our first 10 customers. When I say customer, I mean real clients that have signed a long term contract because they understand how Paperbox makes a difference. It doesn’t include the countless experiments we develop with prospects. New use cases and industries explored. Product R&D. Learning about Demand Gen. Our podcast. All the events attended. Phew!

Nobody said it was easy. 🚫

Deciding to build bootstrapped is admirable. Pulling it off is something else! There’s the financial stress every time something unexpected happens. You might be building a great company, but if you suddenly run out of cash, it’s game over.

Then there’s the pressure on the team to deliver consistently. To think strategically while executing efficiently. We’re lucky with our team!

We believe. 💫

It’s amazing to be in this position. We have the opportunity to build a company culture aligned with our values. We believe it is crucial for people to be challenged. To be made accountable for the impact they deliver. We also believe it’s crucial for people to feel safe and understood. To work in an environment that puts the human first and caters for where and how they work best. Sparking curiosity and creativity. And above all, be honest and fun. That is why we decided to add “Make 2023 a fun year” to our team OKRs. Disclaimer: The answer is not “adding a ping-pong table”.

Fasten your seatbelt, we’ve got more to come in 2023.

Festive greetings from the Paperbox team! 🍾

Frederic Stallaert
Co-Founder and CEO