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About me

Hello, I'm Paul. I'm a software developer from Brisbane, Australia.

This site is my personal blog, where I write mostly about software development, and my journey with Octopus Deploy, the software company where I'm the founder & CEO. I try to write longer essays at least once a month.

I started working on Octopus Deploy in 2010 as a "nights and weekends" project. In 2012 it became a full-time job, and now employs a team of 70 great people. Octopus is bootstrapped, not VC-funded, profitable, and focussed on doing a handful of things really well. I like to think of us as a classic "Independent Software Vendor".

Prior to Octopus Deploy I used this blog to write about other personal projects - I did a bunch of open source .NET projects back then - but when I went full time on Octopus I moved most of my blogging to the Octopus Deploy blog.

I’m married to Sonia Stovell, and she works as Octopus Deploy's CFO. We started Octopus as a full time business together. We have three children.


Can I email you?

Of course. You can contact me at: paul@paulstovell.com

What did you do before Octopus Deploy?

Prior to founding Octopus Deploy, I worked for an investment bank in London building WPF applications. It paid well, but made me realize there's more to life than money. It gave me the motivation to turn Octopus from a spare time project to something real.

Before that I worked for Readify, an Australian .NET consulting firm (now acquired by Telstra). I joined when the team was about 18 people and it was a fantastic company to work for. Many of my client enagements were short-term, which meant delivering value quickly. That's where my focus on DevOps and automation came from.

I also worked on a number of open source projects and was an active user group presenter. I was a Microsoft MVP for WPF from 2006 to 2013.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love to build things - both detailed carpentry and construction jobs (amazing what you can learn on YouTube). Here's some things I'm proud of.

Other stuff

Here’s a few other facts about me:

I grew up in Whyalla, South Australia, the oldest of 5 kids. Whyalla’s a bit of a depressing place, not somewhere to put on your bucket list. I goofed around a lot in school, until I discovered programming. Suddenly I knew what I wanted to do, and started to apply myself.

I’m a self-taught developer - I started programming when I was about 15 at school when I learned some basic Javascript and was fascinated with the idea that you can make a computer do things through code. I wrote some games with C++ - the local university allowed community members to borrow books, so I picked up a book on “Networking” which included a chapter with some C code for a basic TCP/IP client/server. In Year 12, I wrote a C++ web server (called the Stovell Web Server) which could load the PHP ISAPI module, something many other open source web servers couldn’t do at the time.

I started listening to .NET Rocks, and hanging out on programming forums. I also got fascinated by software companies. Joel on Software, Eric Sink, these guys were writing about their small software companies, and I dreamed of starting something like that. In a steel town where half the adults you know all work in the same industry, it seemed like a crazy dream.

In 2004 as I finished high school I decided to move to Sydney. I was doing a number of open source projects, so I announced on a mailing list I’d be moving and would love to find a job there. The open-source work impressed someone enough to land me an interview, and I was extremely lucky to get a job at a software company in Sydney which started in 2005 (it paid $25,000 a year!). Thank you to Stephen Krauklis for taking a chance on me.

While I was accepted into Sydney University to study software engineering, I wasn't able to study and work full time in a new city, so eventually dropped out. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this path to others, but it worked out for me.