OnBoard’s Paroon Chadha on Starting a Software Company


When Paroon Chadha co-founded OnBoard, he couldn’t write a single line of code, but that didn’t stop him from following his vision to establish the global software company.

Find inspiration with Yahoo! While studying for a Masters of Business Administration at Purdue University in the United States in the early 2000s, Chadha and his co-founder began to develop a collaboration engine that could be used with any business.

“At the time, Purdue was trying to create a web portal for its 10,000 employees,” says Chadha. The CEO magazine. “This was at a time when finding information on Google was much easier than finding the same information within your company behind a firewall – so this was a big enough opportunity to fill a gap. “

“There is also a lot of information that was actually available but it was not organized.”

Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs in India, the CEO’s mindset is ingrained in him from an early age, propelling him to the seed of an idea – a personalized, collaborative way to effectively access the market. information. The solution he and his co-founder designed was OnSemble, an intranet collaboration tool for employees that they launched in 2003 through parent company Passageways. OnSemble clients then requested a similar collaboration platform specifically for board meetings, which inspired the creation of OnBoard.

“Find your own frame. I couldn’t write a single line of code, but I’m the CEO of a software company. – Paroon Chadha

Launched in 2011, OnBoard serves as a board intelligence platform accessible by more than 2,300 organizations across 12,000 boards and committees in 32 countries. Over the past decade, the company secured a US $ 5 million investment from Five Oaks, secured a US $ 100 million investment from JMI Equity, acquired a Canada-based town hall management software called eSCRIBE, and underwent a rebranding in 2021, where Passageways became the silent parent company and OnBoard became the flagship brand.

Offer seamless reunion Readiness, unified collaboration, easy-to-use interface, and platform security, OnBoard takes the C suite to new heights quickly.

“A board meeting is the most precious moment in any organization,” says Chadha. “The boardroom is where the leaders of organizations come together and make decisions about the future success of that organization.

“If you can make this meeting more informed, more efficient and less complicated, by default you allow the board to be more efficient and informed, which in turn makes the organization more efficient and successful. “

As the first board intelligence platform, OnBoard has evolved traditional board management to show what visionary leadership can offer. The digital transformation has largely remained intact on boards of directors around the world, setting the company on its own path to forge the future of board meetings.

“The way board meetings are conducted is very much steeped in tradition,” says the CEO. “Many councils still use Robert’s Order Rules for their parliamentary work – a book that was published in the late 1800s.

“Typically, a board is headed by the more senior leaders in the organization who, demographically, tend to be a bit older than the general population, which makes product design extremely important usability-focused.

“As boards around the world went through the uncomfortable process of adapting to remote working, virtual meetings and fully digital formats [during the pandemic], they also realized all the perks they had unknowingly missed.

As leaders and board members realized the potential of OnBoard early on, it was the key to sustainable overall profit.

“As a business, we were profitable in the first year and we started with an investment of $ 100,000 – not a lot of capital – so it was really a bootstrap mentality,” says Chadha. “We stayed in our lane initially and remained profitable – we were able to assess adjacent opportunities at the right time. “

This constant growth has led Passageways to be named as one of the Inc’s 500 Fastest Growing Companies in the United States in 2008. In 2018, business investment was US $ 5 million, a figure that has climbed to US $ 100 million this year.

“You need to establish a strong, disciplined fiscal foundation and continue to adhere to this principle as you grow,” advises Chadha. “A lot of companies that raise a lot of money early do so without having a good foundation of fundamentals.

“It may not be as sustainable as having successfully managed and developed a fast growing business, and doing it profitably before taking capital.”

However, despite the significant success of OnBoard, there has been a major challenge in Chadha’s journey – and it’s one that most executives can relate to.

“One of the biggest challenges of my career has been finding the right talent,” he shares. “There are some super talented people I’ve worked with, but sometimes a misalignment appears that you didn’t anticipate, so it’s always a challenge.”

Add to that the COVID-19 pandemic and it further amplifies the difficulties already encountered.

“The biggest challenge over the past two or three years has been having to do all of these great businesses simultaneously, even as we grow and strengthen our leadership team.

“This is where our culture of collaboration – what we call sahyog in Sanskrit meaning “unity” – really paid off the most. “

While Chadha’s professional journey began when the internet was still very new and mysterious, there are still opportunities for budding entrepreneurs, especially as the global software industry is expected to grow. 11.3% between 2021 and 2028.

The CEO and co-founder of OnBoard has some tried and true words of wisdom for innovators and executives looking to give the industry a boost.

“Find your own frame,” he shares. “I couldn’t write a single line of code, but I’m the CEO of a software company. There is a quote from George Bernard Shaw that really fits here: “The reasonable man adapts to the world; the unreasonable persists in trying to adapt the world to itself. So all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

“You can be successful in different areas, even if you are not experienced or talented in those areas, if you can find a way to collaborate with others. “


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