Expectation vs reality: how does PaperCut build stuff?
We’ve been engineering print management solutions for 20 years and counting. PaperCut started with our founders Chris Dance and Matt Doran coding in their garage. In those two decades, our company has grown from a humble workforce to hundreds across the world.
Both our founders still work at the company, and when I say work, I literally mean, you’ll find them coding and testing alongside the team, five days a week. That startup energy is part of our lifeblood as a business. It also informs our “100-year-vision”. To continue thriving in technology we approach all our product engineering with a long game mentality.
What’s so special about the way we build stuff? I spoke to a handful of folks much brainier than I to find out the answer.
“Why look somewhere else?”
“I come from a background of consulting companies, I worked in product for insurance. I was mainly involved in development testing.
“When I first discovered PaperCut I expected it to be a product company where I would be involved in development. I quickly realized that we are not mere developers here. We’re involved in product from end to end – we are true engineers.
“I learned that PaperCut has a great technical stack and the hiring process made me want to be part of the team. I felt so comfortable during the initial interview, I thought to myself, why look somewhere else?
“When I joined, the one thing I realized was how much you’re involved from the start of development. You’re not just a developer, you’re an engineer, you’re involved from the inception of the product to when it goes to market.
“The end-to-end experience I’ve gotten at PaperCut, I didn’t get anywhere else. It’s been a really unique experience as a developer.”
– Shalini Sharma, Senior Product Engineer
“Our CEO knows the ins and outs of everything.”
“I came in to lead the PaperCut Views project, my role was part engineer and part project manager.
“One of the first things I noticed at PaperCut is as a product engineer, you’re not just a developer. You’re not just filling out code that someone else has specified, you’ve got engineering discipline, and you’re thinking about the customer-aspect of the product.”
“There are not many other companies where you could be working with the founder/CEO in a technical manner.”
– James Percy, Principal Product Engineer
“Something incredibly unique about how we build stuff is the fact that our CEO knows the ins and outs of everything.
“In my previous experience, I’d always worked for product companies. When I joined PaperCut I was new to the print industry, and I’d always been on teams that were multi-discipline, where you contribute to design, product, etc.
“PaperCut was different because coming into a project like our cloud-native platform, you played an active part in getting it to Version 1, then bringing your product to the first users.
“You got to take ownership. That was refreshingly different for me.”
– Thejana Satanarachchi, Product Engineer
“In the year I’ve been at PaperCut, things have really evolved quickly. Initially, we built stuff that was reactive to what partners want, now we’re asking product people to be more refined about what we should create. There’s been an evolution to move product engineering around to be more customer needs-driven.” – Gino Severin, Senior Product Manager
“That evolution speaks to why I joined PaperCut. Part of the reason I started was, at the time, it was a young startup and needed help.”
“And because of that, the company was more focused on engineering than practices. I could see the potential of how to help and make an impact.” – James Percy, Principal Product Engineer
“The main thing that attracted me to product engineering/technology is that it’s a changing space. Technology is constantly changing, you can’t stay stagnant or you’ll fall behind.
“That sounds scary but brings me a lot of satisfaction. There’s always something new to try out, that really encourages me and keeps me entertained.
“With engineering in the span of a year, there might be something new you need to adapt to. I really enjoy that challenge.”
– Jonathon Yong, Associate Product Engineer
“We can build things in a different way”
“The majority of our work needs to be focused on what relates to bigger parts of the market. We need to make things that provide a larger impact, but we also need a balance of providing current customers with their bespoke needs as well.
“We have great relationships with our customers which means we get close to the action. By giving and gaining insights into how customers operate, it helps us to help them become better at what they do.”
– Gino Severin, Senior Product Manager
“Edge Mesh for our cloud-native platform was an example of how we approach product engineering. If all we wanted was a cloud connecting printing system, we could have just built a server on-prem connected to the cloud.
“But we thought of it in a different way with new technology. We took that risk that we embraced challenges to create something perfect, over just building the same thing we know about. That’s a unique part of how PaperCut builds stuff.” – Thejana Satanarachchi, Product Engineer
“We’re a founder-owned business. We don’t owe anybody anything, it means we can build things in a different way because we’re not beholden to shareholders. Thanks to our 100-year vision, we can invest in core technologies and core products.
“In my time at PaperCut, I’ve seen a variety of projects, all sorts of interesting things popping up, from Multiverse, to PaperCut Views, our cloud-native platform. And seeing some of those things go from inception at a hackathon to entering the market is really quite special.” – James Percy, Principal Product Engineer