A four-time founder with the altruistic goal of creating companies to make the world a better place, Dan is well-versed in the ups and downs of startup life. While past ventures have ranged from investment (Allwell) to gaming (Playhem) to personal and professional workshops (Cojourneo), Dan is now leading product development at Reboot, an entrepreneur coaching company.
What is your most important bit of advice for entrepreneurs regarding tools?
Ask your colleagues what they use, and trust what their favorite services are. Also, you should always negotiate with salespeople. Even non-enterprise-level services are all open to negotiations. Never be afraid to ask for a better price.
How important is cost as you’re shopping for tools and services?
It depends on the service, but it's a fairly big consideration. For tools where comparable products exist (like Blue Jeans versus Zoom), we’ll definitely go with the cheaper option. But for a product like Salesforce, budget wasn’t an issue. I just wanted the best tool we could grow into.
Are there any products you strongly recommend for entrepreneurs?
I love Zapier, which integrates your apps together to automate a lot of your workflows. The enterprise version is great for companies. It may not be necessary for a really tech-heavy startup, but my cutting skills are not particularly strong, so it lets me do some of my own integrations without needing a lot of programming skills.
We love Typeform for contact forms, applications and reviews. It's really simple to use, robust and has a great integration with Zapier.
Yesware is another great one for CRM purposes. It allows you to track your emails to prospects, and it syncs conversations between Salesforce and Google Apps. It’s probably more expensive than it should be, but overall I think it does a nice job of syncing data to Salesforce.
Anything else you’re looking to bring on in the near future?
I’m exploring enterprise-level video conferencing that’s within our budget. Google Hangouts has been giving us problems, and we do a lot of 4-6-person video calls. Blue Jeans is way out of our budget, so I’ve been looking at Zoom, which seems to have the same features at a much lower cost. The audio/video quality is much better than Hangouts, and it connects to enterprise-level products. You can have up to 25 people on a video call with Zoom.
Reboot is still in its very early stages. Are there any categories of tools you haven’t started using yet?
We’re still not using a BI/analytics tool because a lot of our data is still straightforward and easy to track. As we evolve, I would probably use Kissmetrics--I’ve used it in the past and really liked it. Once you get over the initial setup, which 80% of people don't do, it’s a really powerful tool.
What’s one of the biggest challenges that all entrepreneurs face?
A lot of people think that, as an entrepreneur, you know everything, you're in charge and you should be able to find the answers. People also get thrown off by the publicity and the success of being an entrepreneur, and they get overwhelmed by the pressures of living up to that vision of themselves. I think that pressure can really overburden people. So it’s important to take care of your inner self: Exercise, meditate, give yourself space.
What do you tell entrepreneurs about balancing their work and personal life?
Don't be afraid to ask for help, in the form of a coach or mentor--someone you can really open up to and trust. This is really important for addressing challenges that affect you daily, like dynamics at home, relationships with your co-founder, etc. These all affect your startup, so dont be afraid to address those challenges.