Christian Owens, CEO at Paddle: Helping SaaS Companies Grow

Paddle is a SaaS company that helps other SaaS companies to sell and scale internationally. From taking payments in multiple currencies to issuing invoices and managing tax and compliance, there are dozens of really complicated problems that limit software companies’ ability to grow quickly and prevent them from reaching their potential.

Paddle was created to take care of all of those problems and, as the SaaS market has grown, we’ve found there’s a huge need for what we do. The business has grown rapidly and we now have a team of over 140 people, serving more than 2,000 software businesses across 238 countries.

Paddle - Sell Software & Digital Products Online from 170+ Countries

How did you come up with the idea for the company?


We set up Paddle in London in 2012 after my co-founder Harrison and I realised how many operational challenges we were facing in growing our own software company. We were teenage entrepreneurs and I had left school to focus full time on the business, but I found that more and more of my time was being taken up with stuff like payments and tax, rather than actually building and selling products.

We created Paddle to ‘scratch our own itch’ and build something that would solve our own problems. And that is still the inspiration for everything we do at Paddle: we believe that software companies should succeed or fail on the strength of the products they build, rather than on their ability to tackle all the complex operational problems that come with running a software business.



What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?


Find a peer group. Having a network of like-minded founders who will be there for you and will understand the incredible highs and lows that you experience when you are trying to create and grow a business is so important. I don’t believe that much in formal mentoring relationships, but having a group of people that will understand the pressures of entrepreneurship and will be there to offer ideas and support – whether it is over a beer in the pub or via a zoom call – is really invaluable.

As a founder, you have to be prepared to learn and grow as an individual as fast or faster than the business itself is growing. Harrison and I started Paddle when we were young, and we didn’t have much formal education or prior experience. That meant that in order to succeed we had no choice but to learn and develop at a pace that kept us ahead of the company’s growth. Whatever your experience or level of education, I think having the willingness to learn and grow as a person at the same rate as your company is absolutely critical to succeeding as an entrepreneur.

Lastly, never compromise on hiring. We found out this one the hard way, when to hit our targets we needed to hire 100 people in a year. That was incredibly tough and it had a real impact on both our team’s productivity and culture. More than anything, that experience taught us the importance of values and cultural fit and we learnt that it’s nearly always better not to hire anyone for a role than to make the wrong hire.


What can we hope to see from Paddle in the future?


A lot! We have big ambitions as a business and we’re entering a really exciting period. If you look at how Coronavirus changed all of our lives in 2020, it’s clear that – for both businesses and consumers – software has never been more important. That’s reflected in the wider SaaS market and many of our sellers are seeing rapid growth as the pandemic accelerates digital transformation across industries. There is enormous opportunity for us in the market and we have big plans for how we want to grow the business and help even more sellers to continue to scale and thrive.