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The PandaDoc origin story with Sergey Barysiuk [Audio 25:31]

Megan Holmes

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Opening of PandaDoc’s East Coast Headquarters in St. Petersburg Florida

Sergey Barysiuk, co-founder of PandaDoc, sits down in the Catalyst studio with publisher Joe Hamilton. Click the arrow above to listen.

In 2017, the City of St. Pete welcomed PandaDoc’s east coast headquarters to the city’s thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. A major win for the St. Pete Economic Development Corporation and a marker of the city’s appeal to outside business, news and social media outlets were buzzing. 

But the story focused mainly on the move – how a Silicon Valley company chose St. Pete to make its home. Before PandaDoc was a Silicon Valley company, it was a seedling of an idea halfway across the world. Well before PandaDoc made its home in St. Petersburg, Florida, it was founded much closer to its namesake in Russia.

PandaDoc started with a jam band at a university in Belarus, the home of co-founders Sergey Barysiuk and Mikita Mikado. The pair comprised the rhythm section, with Barysiuk (who goes by Serge) on drums and Mikado on bass.

Later on, the two went into business together, starting a company designing websites and building modules for a content management system (CMS) similar to WordPress. They began selling them online, and realized that the sales and quote process for those modules was both wasteful and time consuming.

Barysiuk recalls the very moment that PandaDoc’s first offering was born. At that time, it was called Quoteroller – rolling out quotes, fast. “All our PMs and sales team were on vacation, so I was doing proposals, and obviously I’m an engineer,” laughed Barysiuk. “That’s the last thing I want to do.

“I was trying to pull all of the things together, like prices – what are we quoting them, what are we even writing in these quotes?” Barysiuk realized there had to be a better way – an automated way. He and Mikado started Quoteroller as a side product. It quickly became the main focus of their time.

Eventually, Quoteroller ramped up to full-workflow business solutions, and became PandaDoc, named in the same ilk as giants MailChimp and SurveyMonkey.

The company moved to Silicon Valley, where they sought angel investors. They knew PandaDoc wasn’t a “sexy” start-up, but that didn’t deter investors. “To solve a real problem is way sexier than to create something sexy just because it is,” says Barysiuk.

After a few years in Silicon Valley and ten angel investors, the company was established enough to make change. The time difference between Europe and the West Coast was becoming too much. Mikado began looking for a new East Coast headquarters in Florida. Tampa Bay and Miami made the short list – and St. Pete became home. 

To hear more about PandaDoc and the full origin story in Barysiuk’s own words, check out the full conversation with Catalyst publisher Joe Hamilton. Click the arrow above to listen. 

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