Paperstone celebrates its fifth birthday today. Those five years have seen Paperstone rise from lowly, pub conversation beginnings to office products industry renown and here we take the opportunity to provide a potted sketch of the inaugural days and subsequent years of the company.
Founders Jim Brown and Max Trotter-Landry had been chewing over the idea of setting up an online office supplies company for some months before Paperstone was formally incorporated as a private limited company on 25th August 2004. Jim, returning from a stint of exotic travelling, and Max, a researcher for a consultancy, shared a keen interest in e-commerce and wanted to set up a business together. In particular they wanted to explore the potential of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), or producing web pages that appear high up in search engine results. As Max puts it, “we realised the value of appearing in search engines and wanted to sell products that companies would buy and buy again.” Since Jim already had a background in supplying printer cartridges, office supplies seemed an obvious fit.
The following February, Max and Jim – now officially Paperstone – moved to a proper office in Whitfield Street, London, and set about building the company. To begin with, they embarked upon creating the company’s first website, engaging with IT and design companies in the process. In April 2005, a fully functional, “shopable” website went live. In the meantime, they worked on optimising web content to get noticed by Google et al and established relationships with key clients that continue to this day. Within a year of the website going live, Paperstone was starting to become profitable.
The upward trajectory in sales and profits continued and all the while Paperstone was gaining a reputation for personable customer service and the best office deals in town. The company consolidated its position and gained further autonomy by taking IT in-house in the form of computer whizz Henry Barker in November 2007. More business meant more work and additions Alex Brignall (April 2008) and Emma Kay (April 2009) complete the Paperstone team – at least for the time being.
As well as enjoying ever-growing commercial success over its first five years, Paperstone has received formal industry recognition. Max won the British Office Supplies & Services (BOSS) Federation’s Young Professional of the Year last October while the company as a whole recently (July) picked up the Independent Dealer Success (IDS) League Web Dealer of the Year award.
And what of the future? For Paperstone, 2010 is to be the Year of Customer Experience. There will be a focus on improving the website to make it easier and more enjoyable to use. For the past six months the company has been working with University College London’s (UCL) Enzian Baur to improve the customer experience and usability of its website and this successful partnership will continue for another year.
“Our ambition is to have the best and most usable website in the office products industry allied with unrivalled customer experience,” says Max.
Like the Queen, Paperstone has two birthdays – today and 4th April, the anniversary of the website launch. Between now and then we’ll be offering great deals and promotions to celebrate our first five years – so watch this space.
Here’s to the next five years!