Every software company will need to connect to other software to deliver value to the end user, but building robust, reliable integrations is time consuming and expensive. Founded by Forbes 30 Under 30 awards in 2021, Brandon Foo and Ishmael Samuel in August 2019, Paragon is an “embedded integration platform” that provides software integrations-as-a-service to B2B software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies.
The Los Angeles-based startup has raised $13 million in a Series A round led by Inspired Capital, with the participation of existing investors FundersClub and Garuda Ventures.
Paragon has 26 full-time employees and contractors. The startup faces potential competition from Tray and Workato. Paragon generates revenue per task from every integration it builds for its clients.
Foo and Samuel state, “With our Series A funding, we will continue to invest to make Paragon the best solution for developers building product integrations. We strive to provide the most powerful, flexible developer experience through our SDK and APIs, and we’re working on some exciting updates that we’re excited to announce soon.”
Frederick Dasoz: What are the challenges for Paragon development and distribution in the larger B2B SaaS ecosystem?
Brandon Foo and Ishmael Samuel: The concept of an Embedded Integration Platform is still relatively new to the market – most companies still spend millions of dollars building and maintaining their own integrations. This creates such a huge opportunity for us. Yet it also means informing the market about the benefits of using Paragon rather than building integrations ourselves.
daso: When did the Paragon team redefined itself as the “Plaid for SaaS”? What led to this narrative evolution of the company?
foo: Almost three years ago, Ishmael Samuel and I were trying to solve a never-ending problem that we experienced firsthand as software developers. Building my previous company, Polymail, my team and I spent months developing experts in vendor-specific authentication methods, APIs, and documentation for every integration we’ve built. And every time we went through the process, it felt like we were reinventing the wheel. Regardless, our customers kept asking for more integrations. It was impossible to keep up, let alone keep all the integrations we’ve built.
Later we realized that every SaaS company faces the same challenge. Over the past five years, the software ecosystem has grown nearly 10x
At Paragon, we believe in providing a simple, product-centric solution that abstracts the complexity of SaaS integrations into a single SDK that can be natively embedded into any product. In addition, our solution provides a seamless user experience, while allowing developers to build deep integrations for production use cases. Our vision was to do for SaaS integrations what Plaid had done for bank integrations.
As the software ecosystem grows, our vision is for Paragon to become the connecting layer for all software. Just as Plaid has made it virtually unthinkable for a company to build their banking integrations, we believe that no company will ever have to develop or maintain its own SaaS integrations because of Paragon.
daso: What factors are driving the overall growth of the SaaS ecosystem and how has Paragon positioned itself to take advantage of such growth?
Foo and Samuel: In recent years, the SaaS ecosystem has grown exponentially: As of 2021, the average company was using more than 100 SaaS apps, a 38% increase from 2020. SaaS buyers are increasingly demanding that the solutions they buy are well integrated with their existing technology and operations. To avoid market disadvantages, software companies have traditionally spent millions on technical resources to build, maintain, and improve their product integrations indefinitely. Paragon streamlines this process by providing a single software development kit (SDK) and integration infrastructure that enables SaaS companies to build and maintain integrations almost instantly, such as Salesforce, Slack, or Netsuite.
daso: How do you determine which software integrations should be prioritized and the productivity impacts of saving Paragon customers “70% of development time and resources” as claimed?
Foo and Samuel: We work closely with all our customers to understand what they want to achieve with Paragon. Through this process, we have been able to develop our product and integration roadmap based on which integrations and features we know will meet the needs of our customers and the market at large.
We currently support approximately 45 pre-built integrations across the CRM, Marketing, Product Management, Messaging, and Productivity categories. We are expecting new categories such as Advertising Platforms, ERP, HRIS and others soon to be announced soon. For apps that we don’t currently have pre-built integrations with, we also offer a Custom Integration Builder that allows our customers to easily create their own integration with any SaaS API.
daso: At Paragon’s stage as a Series A company, how will your go-to-market strategy evolve to meet current and potential customer needs?
Foo and Samuel: We are constantly improving how our customers discover, evaluate and interact with Paragon. We want to make it as easy as possible for developers to understand how Paragon can solve their integration challenges. For us, this means it should be hassle-free for anyone to sign up for a free developer account, provide a robust documentation center where they can learn how to use Paragon, and hands-on support from our team to help them get started quickly to go with Paragon. Our Series A financing allows us to increase our commitment and investment in every area to provide the best possible experience for new and existing Paragon customers.
daso: From a technical point of view, how will Paragon systematically organize and expand its technical talent and resources to develop and maintain the current and new integrations that customers demand?
Foo and Samuel: Becoming number one in the market in integrations offered is one of the many ways Paragon will dominate the market. As our engineering team has grown, we’ve broken it down into smaller pods that can be built and replicated quickly, ranging from dev-ops to the workflow engine. Among them is a dedicated integration team and product manager who work to deliver integrations on our roadmap.