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Welcome to our blog series, ‘People of PA’. With each post, we’ll feature one-on-one interviews with the talented individuals on our global team. You’ll get to know the people inside the company, their story of hyper growth and what it’s really like working at Particular Audience.
Next up in our blog series, meet a few friends who have helped build the UK office to what it is today. Introducing Josh, Tom, Arbs and Paul.
During this conversation, the team reflects on the last few years to Series A and what they’ve learnt along the way.
Q: First off, how does this story begin? What made you join PA?
Josh: Whilst traveling in Australia, I was introduced to James. Honestly, the excitement of joining an early stage startup had me hooked from the start.
Right after our seed round, James asked me if I knew any ambitious/talented people to help us build out our presence in EMEA. That’s when I thought of Arbs.
Arbs and I met on the first day of university and lived together for a few years after that. James and Arbs met a month after I started, and we haven’t looked back since.
Arbs: When I first met Josh at university, I was convinced I wanted to go into investment banking. After completing an economics degree, I started working in retail and spent some time deciding what I wanted to do next.
This is where I started to see and feel the true impact of online retail. That’s when I met James.
At this point, Lindsay, Josh and James were building out the Australian office. And I couldn’t turn down the offer to go to Australia and start to grow the team.
For a while, Josh and I were living together in an apartment in Bondi. Really living up to the UK stereotype.
Paul: I was finishing my third year at uni and running a property business. At the time, I was thinking about getting an internship at a big property company.
Arbs was actually my mentor at university. That’s how we got to know each other, and how I knew Josh. Then, one day, I got a call from Arbs asking if I would be interested in selling tech to help retailers.
That’s when I met with James and agreed to come to Australia after I finished university. That’s where it all began.
Tom: Before I was working at PA, I was working at Google. I became really interested in AI, which was how I became interested in PA - the focus on privacy first AI tech.
Q: What were your first couple of months like?
Tom: They were scrappy. When I joined, PA had just committed to opening a UK office and there was a week's overlap with Beth starting and James in the office.
Joining as the first sales person in the UK, much of my training was listening to James pitch. I remember writing down USPs from his pitch, and proof points to take with me. Weeks after that I was pitching myself.
I think that worked really well for me. I’ve always appreciated a work it out yourself approach.
It was a lot of fun.
Arbs: It was the same in the Sydney office. We were learning by doing. We were trying to work with the Sydney market during the day, UK at night and then US early morning.
Josh: We’d bounce ideas off each other in a meeting, then make it happen. Everything from marketing to how we engage customers, to how we write a cold email.
Paul: There was a massive learning curve for me in the first few months. SaaS, tech and startup life were all somewhat new to me.
It felt like starting University all over again in the sense that every day was a new challenge but the excitement grew the more and more I learned.
Q: What were some of the craziest things that have happened along the way?
Arbs: Josh and I went to Splendor in the Grass together - sharing a one man tent.
We also went to a Dealmaker Europe in Paris with Lindsay and Beth. This was being a BD at its finest. We would organize the agenda for the day on the fly, get ourselves into meetings and pitch our way into a deal.
In one instance, we went into a meeting room and left our suitcases in the corner.
Q: What’s changed at PA over the years? How has the company evolved?
Tom: Over the past couple of years, we’ve put so much more structure in place. Along with that, the technology we’re providing retailers has changed dramatically. We’ve developed from providing collaborative filtering recommendations systems to computer vision, natural language processing, search and merchandising tech.
The UK office has grown from one UK client to contributing over 50% of company revenue across multiple industries.
Paul: After focusing solely on the UK, we quickly saw our approach to personalization resonated in mainland Europe too. Especially our focus on privacy first personalization. This has led to an equal split between our clients in the UK & Mainland Europe, 3 years on.
Even though the team has grown, the diversity in the team hasn’t changed. We have people representing all walks of life which makes it a truly well rounded group of people.
Q: What was it like working in a company focused on hyper growth (especially from seed to series A)?
Tom: It’s extremely rewarding. Every day is different and unique. It definitely teaches you to adapt quickly (similar to the Adapt or Die mindset).
There’s always something to be done, and everyone truly wants to succeed in what they do. It's really inspiring.
I love knowing that everything I do will have a direct impact on the business.
Paul: I’ve always loved how success at PA operates on meritocracy.
PA is perfect for those who want to be permanently challenged.
You constantly find yourself in conversations outside of your remit, which helps you level up quickly and really understand the mechanics of a startup.
Q: What’s one lesson/tip you’d give to someone if you started at PA tomorrow?
Paul: Have a goal and run with it. Use PA as a vehicle to propel yourself towards personal/professional growth and success.
Tom: Adaptability is key, think about what you can do to deliver business impact and adapt accordingly.
A tip for new starters - get as involved as possible, your opinions and input help shape the business.
Q: What does the future hold for you at PA?
Paul: I want to increase the exposure of the tech world to those less fortunate or lacking the understanding of privacy led personalization.
Also, I want to ensure the Amsterdam office (coming soon) generates the most revenue for the business.
Let the games begin !