Interview with Dan Latendre (Igloo Software)
Igloo develops social software that builds online communities for business.
I interviewed Dan Latendre, Igloo Software CEO to find out more. This is the hundred and sixty first in a series of DW startup interviews. Big thank you to Dan!
Describe Igloo in under 50 words.
Igloo Software is an intranet your employees will use and actually like. We’re a start-up company, truly Canadian, & we do everything in the cloud. We bring content and conversation in one unified environment, so you can share files, find answers, exchange ideas, manage projects and work better together.
Describe yourself in one sentence.
I’m a leader, energetic and I try to give people enough information and leeway in order to get their jobs done.
You recently launched the latest version of the collaboration suite that offers an instant translation feature and enhanced social metrics. How long has this been in development? How was it funded?
We’ve been working on our multilingual feature for about 8 months and we’re very proud of it. We realize most organizations are global with different regional offices; you have to cater to the language that they work in; similar to the tools that they use such as email, mobile phones, web browser, iPad etc. You have to suit the way in which people work and I feel language is a big part of that.
Having a great intranet is one thing but you have to be able to report on what is working, what isn’t working, what projects are on time etc. Analytics are important as a company is about the people. That is why Igloo has partnered with MicroStrategy – a leading worldwide provider of business intelligence (BI) software that integrates reporting and analytics into Igloo’s social business suite. With this new functionality, it allows Igloo customers to track user participation, influence, activity and engagement in a corporate intranet or customer community. With this, you can make your company more innovative, more competitive and more productive.
Entrepreneurship and the web are your passions. You were instrumental in launching the first wireless internet access package, first commercial search engine for the web and the first web-based intranet application. How did your passion develop?
I’ve always been an entrepreneur, I’ve always liked to build things. If it was easy then everyone would be doing it but ever since I was young, I’ve always had some form of business going on. After I graduated from University, I set up a software company and it became pretty clear that I don’t like to work for other people.
What led you to join Igloo as CEO?
I saw the transformation happening around the world within the technology sector as we saw in 2007 with the onslaught of social media with the success of Facebook. Then came the mobile movement with smart phones, and now everything is going cloud. With social, mobile & cloud illustrating this new way of working, I thought why not build a company that takes three components, put it into a collaborative platform and deliver it to other businesses? So that’s what I did.
Most of Igloo’s revenue has come from mid-sized companies, which, you say, are more open to new technologies. How can big-company executives be convinced to embrace new technology?
We believe there are many large companies that are hesitant to move to the cloud when really, we are more secure than they think. They become interested once we show them cost savings through an IT infrastructure perspective. Since Igloo is a SaaS solution, there is nothing to install or maintain, and you don’t have to deal with updates, patches or the maintenance of servers. Igloo’s license model is subscription based and starts at $12 per user per month which covers license fees, add-ons, integrations as well as professional services. So on top of saving money, you also save time & stress.
What does a typical day as CEO consist of?
Lots of meetings, lots of meetings and lots of meetings. I participate in strategic sessions, customer calls, and I also speak with leading industry analysts. On top of this, I help out the different business units, ensuring that all teams are working together toward a common goal. I meet with teams often to help them remove any road blocks and ensure we are using the correct strategy. I make sure that any changes to strategy are communicated across all teams.
With more than 20 years of experience as a senior-level technology executive, what do you wish you’d have known 20 years ago that you know now?
I would have made a lot more investments in some of the intranet based companies like Netscape, Google, and Yahoo. Looking back, I have learnt a lot on what it takes to become a successful company through hard-work and dedication as well as many other ingredients. The main things I have learnt as an entrepreneur is to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, make sure that your team is culturally aligned and to make sure the company has sufficient capital to execute your visions.
What has been your greatest accomplishment to date?
I look at life accomplishments through generating a balance between my professional life, my personal life as well as keeping myself healthy. I personally feel achieving this balance has made me a better executive. Before I retire, I want to see that I’ve had or groomed the next generation of CEO’s.
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
The market never seems to move as fast as you think; you have to enjoy the ride and not worry about the outcome. You have to remember that you are in a marathon, not a sprint. It is like a ladder approach, you have to be patient and not force things. For me, that is the major hurdle.
What’s currently your favourite app?
Our Igloo Software app is fantastic, because it keeps me connected wherever I am. Let’s face it, work is not a place anymore – it’s just what we do. We work at the office, but we also work on the road and at home. Igloo Software’s app allows me to work closer together, even when I am apart.
What advice would you offer to any soon to be startup founders out there?
The big advice I would recommend would be to build your network – it provides you with connections that enable you to access expertise, knowledge and experience that you don’t have. I often tell people to try and be a learner; always be learning and looking at things. A lot of people say “it is all about who you know” which is true, but I also feel it is more important to analyze what you know from who you know.
Which entrepreneurs and/or CEOs do you most admire?
I’ve actually had a few really good mentors including Tom Jenkins (CEO of Open Text), and Dr. David Johnston, (now the Governor General of Canada). While I’ve had the privilege of working with them all, they each have their own style, approach and experience. Being a fan of learning and analyzing, I was able to see what works for them but also learn what works for me.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
From a professional perspective, I am really excited about the next stage of Igloo Software and its growth. Igloo currently powers over 4,000 global collaboration sites in more than 80 countries worldwide – some of our customers include Harry Winston, NII, ATP World Tour, & IDC. I feel that our company is ready to explode and I am very excited to see where it takes us.
This growth in adoption is influenced from a trend we are currently seeing. At Igloo, we see a convergence occurring between the content and communication tools we use at work. No longer do we need to move between shared folders, email, instant messaging, video and social tools in order to create content and update our teams. The intranet is fast becoming the hub of business collaboration.
From a personal perspective, I am actually 50 soon, which I see as a milestone, but I am interested in the challenges that it holds for me and how I can help others.
Can you convince the reader to start using Igloo in under 50 words?
You spend the majority of your day at work so why not enjoy it? We help you to get the most out of work by finding the right people and information to do your job. Our platform will make work more than enjoyable – we will make it more productive.
Finished reading? Check out Igloo!