'Paper Saver' Update: How We've Grown 30% YoY

Michelle Lee
Founder, Paper Saver
Paper Saver
from Melbourne VIC, Australia
started March 2015
alexa rank
market size
avg revenue (monthly)
starting costs
gross margin
time to build
210 days
growth channels
Advertising on social media
business model
best tools
Google Drive, Instagram, Shopify
time investment
Side project
pros & cons
35 Pros & Cons
13 Tips
Discover what tools Michelle reccommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Michelle reccommends to grow your business!
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Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

The Paper Saver started in Melbourne, Australia, in 2015 with the simple goal to reduce paper waste. Designed by my co-founder and partner, Jon, who is an architect by trade, as he became aspirated with how much paper he was wasting printing draft designs that quickly became obsolete, he created a simple notebook with the paper, writing notes on the perfectly pristine back blank sides of his designs. Drawing attention whenever he brought out his self-made eco-friendly notebook, it gradually became a sustainable business idea; the Paper Saver aims to promote environmental awareness and sustainable living by demonstrating how easy it is to reduce waste in everyday tasks.

The Paper Saver repurposes your paper as pages of its notebook, reducing paper waste and helping the environment. Encasing a functionally designed spring steel binder inside, your discarded paper is inserted and folded so you can conveniently write on the back blank sides - no more unnecessary new notebooks as you will have an endless supply of used paper as pages of your Paper Saver! Available in three different designs - the Classic Paper Saver (made of faux leather), the Leather Paper Saver (made of genuine leather), and the Sparkle Paper Saver (made of canvas). Since launching in 2015, we have grown YOY on an average of 30%.



Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?

Covid-19 has impacted our business as events have played a large part in our marketing calendar and sales. 2020 was the year that we had locked in even more events than usual, but everything was obviously either canceled or postponed. Marketing budgets were cut across many businesses, which impacted us as corporate orders for customized Paper Savers contribute to a large part of our sales as well. Hence we focused our energies on paid social media advertising, creating new ads that were tailored to the ‘new norm’ of consumers working from home, much managing online learning, and of course - printing!

There is never a right or wrong, but only an opportunity to try or not try. If you try and find out it wasn’t right, take it as a learning, not a failure. It is simply an issue of your mindset in how you define success.

There was uncertainty like there had been for any business at the beginning of Covid-19, about how marketing messages would be viewed and accepted. So it was a trial first with a small budget, and ensuring we were targeting our audience as best as we could - and what happened? It delivered well over 300% in ROI. So this was a great win for us, and through 2020, it continued this way - trial and error until we saw the successful returns.


What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

One lesson learned from last year was, off the success of our paid social media campaign as per the above, we let it keep running without refreshing it for a while - this was a mistake as, after a while, it wore off. Facebook likes to see fresh campaigns, and so the success almost scared us from doing what we knew should have been done - to keep the ads fresh.

We also utilized the downtime to finally make a bigger dent in the US market by tapping into the Amazon network. Many people around us had been telling us that we need to get onto Amazon US, but it never made the top of our priority list. Shipping costs from Australia to the US always hindered our customers from purchasing from our website, so now that Amazon US ships directly for us, it has been great so far!

2020 also was a year of change for us at Paper Saver, as I decided to return to a corporate job while continuing to maintain Paper Saver as a side business. Times in lockdown make you evaluate everything in your life and I came to the conclusion that I wanted to put my energies into helping make more of a difference in the world and contributing to social good, and so I have moved into the for-purpose space :) Paper Saver is continuing to run, as we still have a distributor managing our wholesale business in Australia, online and custom orders are still managed by my partner; I just have less time obviously to manage the marketing side of things, but we are still active and running!

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

In the short term, we would love to see the return of our local events - design markets and events that we had signed up for in 2019 are all due to happen later this year. It is going to be super exciting just to be face-to-face with our consumers again! Many of our events made an online version, which we also supported - as we are all small businesses supporting each other, we have wanted to continue the relationship with these event organizers. We are planning several different, new initiatives in how we execute our events this year.

There are also plans to update the Leather Paper Saver. There are ways we can refresh the design, the card and document pockets inside, and even the material itself as we would love to source an even more sustainable option so that we continue to walk our sustainable talk. Watch this space!

On a more long-term scale, we would love to continue to expand more into the US market - Amazon has shown us that there is room to grow there. As we return more to a pre-Covid life, we would love to become involved in the trade shows in the US and enlist stockists for the Paper Saver in the US market. As mentioned, shipping costs have always hindered our customers in North America, so this would make a bigger difference in our US sales.

Have you read any good books in the last year?

Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder, by Arianna Huffington. This was a good read for me as a mum and wife, a business owner, and my decision to return to corporate work. If anyone is in a similar position, juggling the many tasks of numerous roles and hats, this affirms for you that you just need to find the right balance as your measure of success.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

My partner had wanted to start the Paper Saver for a few years and I had been the one pushing back. In the end, he became so determined he had completed designs and had started sourcing suppliers. I saw through his determination and gave in, concluding that the worst-case scenario would be that we would have 500 Paper Savers sitting around (the minimum order quantity from the supplier he found, who is still our supplier today) and a few thousand dollars down the drain. To date, I can proudly say that we turned around a profit from day one and the Paper Saver continues to be a great side hustle for us!

There is never a right or wrong, but only an opportunity to try or not try. If you try and find out it wasn’t right, take it as a learning, not a failure. It is simply an issue of your mindset in how you define success.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

Michelle Lee, Founder of Paper Saver

Paper Saver has provided an update on their business!

Over 2 years ago, we followed up with Paper Saver to see how they've been doing since we published this article.

7 months ago, we followed up with Paper Saver to see how they've been doing since we published this article.

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