Maker Hunt’s AMA with Christian Owens from Paddle.com

Christian Owens is the 20 year old founder of Paddle.com, a London based startup with over $1m in funding. Paddle’s range of developer tools make it easy for app developers to set up & manage trial versions, take payments and even track in-app analytics across desktop & mobile — all from a single dashboard.

Having started out arranging app bundles & promotions in his early teens, Christian noticed that developers had a common problem: they wanted to build & sell cool apps, but didn’t want the headaches involved with distributing them. That’s where Paddle comes in and handles all the ‘boring stuff’ so that developers can do what they love.

Christian. You can take the floor and intro yourself and we’ll get started.

Hey Everyone! Eric pretty much hit the nail with the description. I’m currently the founder/ CEO at Paddle.com, where we build tools to help make developers lives easier. I’ve been involved in the internet and building startups/ projects for the last 5–6 years or so.

Q. How are you finding managing a startup in London? In terms of facilities available, cost to live, startup community in general? (ignoring weather!!)— Ben Tossell

(ignoring the weather ;)) London is great. Facilities are awesome, and we have a really great community of startups and entrepreneurs with Silicon Roundabout, TechCity etc… Access to capital right now in London is insane. Lots of investors flooding lots of money into early stage companies which creates a really interesting startup dynamic. Cost of living does suck however, being one of the more expensive places in the world to live, and we have a little ways to go with our talent pool. Currently there are too many startups vs. engineers and so on (which is the case in most tech hubs).

Q. What’s the big pitch with your solution? How is it better than other solutions out there? — Eric Willis

I’d say its a matter of priorities when you’re a developer, or a business that sells any type of digital content (SaaS etc…)

Speaking as a developer, I don’t want to have to spend time dealing with payments, figuring out how to pay taxes and VAT (or what tax and VAT to charge based on where the customer is). I don’t have time to deal will billing issues from customers. There are a few things I’m really passionate about when it comes to building apps: creating an awesome product and selling that awesome product.

Paddle aims to take all of these things (payments, taxes, analytics, customer support, and many more…) away from these developers so they can focus on the things they love. Building awesome apps and software.

Q. What are some of the tools your team uses to manage day to day ops? — Jonas Daniels

That’s a good one! On a daily basis we all use Intercom.io for keeping up with our users, and our sales team loves Close.io as their CRM and sales platform. Our customer support team, having tried dozens of different support platforms is really loving HelpScout.net.
I’d say those are the core few tools we use. Specific teams will use different things (engineering/product loves Github, Trello, ProjectPlace and ScrutinizerCI for example).
We also make a lot of use of internal tools and dashboards we’ve put together.

Q. Can you tell us about some of the content in A Developer’s Guide to App Marketing and why did you decide to do an ebook in the first place? — Eric Willis

The ebook was very much a team effort, but the main reason we decided on pushing it out in that format was that ebooks are still the easiest to consume format for long-form written content online. In terms of the ‘why’, we were hearing from hundreds of developers that we work with that taking all of this burden (in terms of payments, taxes etc…) of their hands wasn’t enough, they wanted us to *grow their sales* not just *save their time*. This is our first step toward that.

Did you check out Sujan Patel ‘s post on marketing his ebook? — Ben Tossell

I hadn’t seen that! I’ll definitely give it a read… I can share the stats on how our ebook launch is doing, if you like?

So far on the ebook we have 1,130 total downloaders and 1,035 email subscribers to our email list from the ebook campaign. That’s within the last ~10 hours or so.

Just from PH or other platforms too? —Ben Tossell

ProductHunt, social shares and an intercom message to ~50 or so of our customers who we knew would love it.

Q. Would you mind telling a bit at what stage was Paddle at when you raised funds? — Idan

So, we’ve raised about $1.25M to date, over 2 rounds. Pre-launch we raised £150k ($234k) followed by a $1m round late last year.

To give some context of timeframe the first round was August 2012.

Q. Are your investors based in London or US? And any challenges that have come from that? — Ben Tossell

Our investors are UK based, we’ve taken money from 2 angel investors and 2 VC funds.

Q. How long did it take you to from beginning to end to close your rounds? Did you have a lead investor? If so, how did you find that lead? — Eric Willis

We closed our initial seed from one investor, the whole process (from meeting him on twitter) to the cash in our bank account took about a week.

Our $1m round was closed from another investor, a fund and our initial investor. That round took about 3 weeks from start to finish.

(It should be noted that my experiences raising money so far aren’t typical — right place, right time has a lot to do with it I believe).

Q. What’s the story behind you leaving school at 16? — Eric Willis

I actually had a bet with my parents…When I was 14/15 I came home from school one day, telling my parents how much I hated it.

I wanted to drop out at the legal age (in the UK — 16) and not go to college, or continue with school.

They obviously hated this idea — wanted me to continue, and go to college, concerned about my ability to get a job etc…They bet me (foolishly) that if I could earn $100k/yr by the time I was 16, I could leave school and continue with my business(es).

A couple of days later, I started a website that sold software in bundles, and did daily deals and discounts on Mac apps. Within 4 months I’d made ~$100k, within the year it was about $300k.

Safe to say — I won that bet.

Q. How did you start Branchr Advertising? — Eric Willis

With a friend of mine Mark Bao (who later went onto co-found OnSwipe, who have raised $6M+ to date) we decided to create the first behaviourally targeted ad network. Mostly as a hobby (but partially because we hated paying for ads to get traction on our projects). We grew that business to 3.5bn monthly ad impressions, and clients including Pepsi, BMW, JetBlue, Virgin etc…

It was a fun ride.

Q. Before we finish up, is there anything we didn’t ask you that you wish we had that? — Eric Willis

Not really — I think we covered some good stuff. I would say that anyone who thinks of some questions later, or has something they want to ask privately (or about Paddle) hit me up on Twitter (twitter.com/heychristian). Email: christian@paddle.com … ooor! DM me here in the MakerHunt Slack! :☺


Next AMA is with:

Ryan Paugh — Boston entrepreneur. Co-Founder of @CmtyCo. Building community for ambitious people: @YEC, @FounderSociety, @CoachesForum and more.— 3pm EST 26th May


If you liked this AMA please Recommend ☺. Keep an eye out on our Twitter — @MakerHunt for details/updates.

Special thanks to Christian and everyone who participated. If you’re a maker with a product on ProductHunt, be sure to sign up to participate in the AMAs and connect with others.

Already a member? Get your questions ready for the next AMAs! For any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to: Eric, Jonas, Remco, Cat or Ben.

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