Paul has been engaged with entrepreneurial activity on and off for 16 years. In 1995, whilst on a rapidly ascending career at Motorola, Paul started one of the first Web-design companies in the UK, which also started building mobile apps, making it the first mobile apps company in Europe. It was called Magic E Company (when the letter “E” was in vogue, pre “i” days).
Magic E Company built apps for the likes of Motorola, NTT DoCoMo and Lucent Technologies, plus a range of products under the Xsonic brand that were the world’s first wireless enterprise products designed for Microsoft Exchange, as used by Credit Suisse bank, Compaq, Dell, Gold Fax and a number of leading brands.
During this early dot.com era, Paul was approached repeatedly by various entrepreneurs and investors interested in capitalizing on the dot.com boom, but he stayed focussed on trying to build Magic E Company into a successful wireless enterprise products company. Magic E was approached by Glenayre Inc. to be acquired in 2000, after approaching 50 other companies to find a wireless email solution, saying that “only Magic E has a true vision for mobile.” Soon after, Glenayre announced a withdrawl from the wireless applications market due to the decline of their 2-way paging revenues.
In 2001, Paul became the CTO of a Hong Kong start-up – MetroWalker – co-founded by Jansen Leung, an aspiring Asian entrepreneur – to build what was the world’s first location-based platform (pre-smartphone). Paul designed and pioneered a number of the “location tagging” services and applications that are now commonplace in services like Four Square and Twitter.
in 2005, Paul boot-strapped a service called ThumbCrowd, which enabled text-messaging users to create “pin-boards” in order to share text updates with followers. It was a pioneer of the “follow-me” model before Twitter arrived a year later (2006). Similar to Twitter, it was also an early example of a Ruby on Rails application and — unlike Twitter — an example of how a UK-based start-up, back then, could barely compete with a well-funded silicon valley companies. Returning to his earlier work in productivity apps, Paul converted the service to become ThumbJot, using the same “pin-board” approach to share notes with family, friend and colleagues (pre Ever Note). After the iPhone launch, ThumbJot was positioned as an ‘iPhone Web App” and was one of the first productivity apps to get an Apple Staff Pick. Again, as a boot-strapped (self-funded) venture, TJ could not compete with well-funded apps from the US. It remained in service for nearly 2 years without ever going down and was eventually withdrawn from service.
Throughout the entire period (post Magic E), Paul has been involved with assisting and advising various start-ups, and has been invited many times to co-found or join early stage start-ups. Examples include advising Ajit Jaokar’s Sknow start-up, which was one of the earliest location-based shopping apps (in the ZagMe era, as founded by fellow mobile legends Russell Buckley and Helen Keegan, all part of the “mobilists” entourage that came out of the UK – Russell went on to catalyse Admob, acquired by Google).
In 2009, with the backing of renowed entrepreneur and O2′s SME Director, Simon Devonshire, and the O2 CTO (Ramon Ros) Paul founded the “O2 Incubator,” which was one of the first examples of a telco trying to accelerate small software start-ups. One of the successful funding recipients – Backchat.io – went on to sign a licensing deal to provide technology for Telefonica’s pioneering connFu platform (also led by Paul).
In 2009, Paul was also invited to be on the board of another Asian start-up (this time in Singapore) which attempted (and failed) to “re-invent” forums by combining them with social networks.
In 2011, Paul was invited to be on the board of the Adhearsion non-profit foundation, an example of open-source entrepreneurialism aimed at disrupting the telecom industry by providing a free cloud-telephony platform for building innovative communications services. Ironically, and a sign of the times, Paul pioneered a partnership between Adhearsion and one of the large telcos it sought to “disrupt” when he presented at Adhearsion Conf the intention for Telefonica to support Adhearsion apps on its network. (Note: After departing from the connFu project, Paul declined the Adhearsion board position.)
In 2011, Paul was invited to be a mentor in the UK’s leading software incubator program – Springboard. In addition to providing advice to 5 start-ups in the program, Paul went on to become an advisory board member of Spontly, a social-events application. This position is ongoing.
In 2011, Paul co-founded AlphaPunk, initially a corporate film production company focussed on technical and software markets. It has since expanded to become a creative technology company, including mobile app design.