From time to time we write about things you might find useful such as what we're working on and thinking about.

A picture of Mark
Design Director

2 min read

Our first year in business

The three founders of Paper

We’re one. Wow that was a challenge. Looking back on our first year in business is one of fondness, and expostulation. I use the former because it’s impossible to look back on our first 12 months without pride of how far we’ve come as a business. While the latter has shaped our business in an extremely positive way.

We’re a business which thrives off challenging assumptions with the people we work with, and to help those people become part of our team and form empathy for the people we try to understand and design for. To do that you have to be able to balance reason with disagreement so finely they create a constructive conversation. It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve tried to learn this past year, and I’m happy to admit I’ll never turn it into a fine art.

I think that’s why Paper is such a forward thinking business. We haven’t built a business on comfort, we’ve built a business on asking the question “what if?”.

Times when we’ve asked “what if”:

  1. What if we avoided the easy work?
  2. What if we put ourselves in a position which challenges us?
  3. What if we approached this work from an unobvious angle?
  4. What if we were a more diverse business?
  5. What if we do free work?
  6. What if we founded a new event?
  7. What if we designed an empathetic business?

I want to talk a bit about putting ourselves in a position which challenges the business. We’d be stubborn if we thought our ideas from 12 months ago would still be completely relevant today, and if we thought our skills would not need to develop to keep up with a startup. I’ve found as one of three directors, that there’s actually a fourth director. Paper. If we just pushed Paper in the direction we want it to go it would fail. It wouldn’t be flexible enough, and that’s why I’ve learnt that it’s the business that directs us. By creating something flexible, and open minded it’s ended up shaping us as people.

At times that’s been a huge challenge and we’re not afraid to say it’s caused tension and tears which have brought the whole thing into question. But it’s those difficult moments which really separate us from other businesses, and has pushed us to evolve.