Top SaaS CEOs: Igloo Software’s Dan Latendre

IglooPortraitPhotos_DanLatendre_06Igloo Software, a high growth SaaS solution in the enterprise collaboration market has won a number of accolades in large part due to CEO Dan Latendre’s leadership.

RJ: Can we start with some quick highlights of your Company, the product/service you provide, the scale and the level of growth you’ve achieved?

Dan: Igloo Software provides digital workplace solutions, enabling companies to build engaging digital destinations where employees can access the information, tools, and expertise they need to do their best work, from wherever they are. The result is an improved sense of community across the organization, better alignment to objectives, and greater speed and consistency of execution.

Why do companies need this? The workplace is continually evolving and it’s currently undergoing a digital transformation. Companies are turning to digital workplace strategies as a way of retro-fitting modern tools and technology into their current infrastructure, while staying ahead of trends. Igloo’s digital workplace solutions help organizations address several challenges related to communication, collaboration, knowledge management, and workflow. In addition, the Igloo platform integrates with leading cloud apps like Office 365, G Suite, Salesforce, Zendesk, Dropbox, and Slack.

There’s a huge opportunity for us with the Enterprise Collaboration Market expected to become $49.5 billion by 2021, according to Research and Markets.

We’ve being experiencing 50% growth (MRR), have a loyal base of 500+ clients (High tech, financial services, healthcare, etc.) with over 90% customer retention. Digital Workplace Solutions from Igloo can be deployed for clients quite rapidly at about 8-10 weeks on average. This quick deployment time and the ability to offer solutions that address the most pressing challenges impacting productivity and engagement is what makes Igloo so valuable to our customers.

RJ: We are very interested in understanding the steps leading up to an individual’s eventual rise to successful entrepreneur / CEO.  Can you share your background with us?

Dan: Certainly. For the past 20+ years, I’ve served in management roles in the creation of leading edge internet-based technologies and applications for a number of Canadian companies as such as MKS, Delrina and OpenText Corporation.

Throughout my career, my passion has always been closely tied to two key areas: entrepreneurship and the web. In 1993, while at MKS, I secured a grant with the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) and forged a partnership with Research In Motion (now BlackBerry) to launch the first wireless internet access package called Internet Anywhere.

In 1995, I negotiated the sale of the Internet Anywhere division to OpenText Corporation, where I spearheaded the release of the first commercial search engine for the web (which powered Yahoo! in the early years), launched the first web-based intranet application called Livelink® and, in 1999, set up and managed operations for the Software as a Service (SaaS) division.

After leaving OpenText in 2004, I accepted the position of CIO for the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) – a not-for-profit research center and think tank founded by Jim Balsillie. During my time there, I created the first free online innovation network for those working, studying and advising on global issues. The technology behind this network would later form the basis for Igloo’s digital workplace platform.

It has been a real privilege and honor leading Igloo from a start-up in 2008 to a globally recognized company, now experiencing explosive growth. In 2015, Igloo was named to the Gartner Magic Quadrant for the seventh year in a row, and we landed on KMWorld’s list of 100 Companies That Matter in Knowledge Management for the sixth time. Igloo was also named to Deloitte’s 2015 and 2016 Fast 500 – recognized as one of the fastest growing technology companies in North America. Igloo was also named to Globe and Mail’s list of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers for 2016.

Today, I dedicate much of my time to driving the vision behind Igloo’s product strategy. I am a member of the Canadian Council for Innovation, an advisory board member for Communitech’s SME initiatives, and was named the 2015 Alumni of the Year for the University of Waterloo.

RJ: Are there one or two key factors you can attribute to your keen ability to effectively grow your Company?

Dan: I look for people who are SO.  Strategic and Operational.  When I hire people who possess these two traits, I know I can trust them to get things done and in turn, grow the company. Allow me to elaborate. You need the strategy part – employees who can chart the course in their individual departments or areas of specialization, think long term, come up with goals, and the best pathway to get there. But then, that plan needs to come to life and become transformed into smaller, actionable steps that can be measured. This is where the operational part comes in. Both are needed and they complement each other.

RJ: Is there someone you admire personally or professionally that has inspired your success?  

Dan: Yes. There’s two business leaders I’d like to mention. Tom Jenkins, Chair of the Board of OpenText Corporation and Jim Balsillie, former co-CEO of BlackBerry. One thing I learned from both of these leaders was how a mindset of continual innovation can help build a world class organization. I also observed first hand how well they treated their employees and those around them, and how they were able to bring out the best from these people. This really made an impression on me. Today, without a doubt, I know that the number one asset Igloo has, is its people.

RJ: Can you share with us one of the most challenging times you have faced, for example when you hit a low point and how you dealt with it and bounced back?

Dan: Yes, it was back in 2004 when I retired. It was the first time I had ever been out of the job market and to be honest, it was unfamiliar territory. During this time, I grappled with the decision of whether to even remain in the technology sector. However, I definitely believe that success occurs when preparation and opportunity meet, and this helps explain how I bounced back. Later that year, I accepted the position of CIO for CIGI. I had the right skill set, I was in the right place at the right time, and I seized the opportunity that was right in front of me. And the rest is history, as the technology developed in my position here would later form the basis for Igloo’s digital workplace platform.

RJ: What book has had the most profound impact on you and why?

Dan: It would have to be Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore. In addition to providing insights into creating and growing a successful business, he offers a helpful framework to do just this.

RJ: And on a lighter note, what is your favorite place to visit – where you can take a break and recharge?

Dan: I love going to my cottage whenever I can.  I’m not the kind of guy who can just relax and read a book, so definitely not your typical Canadian cottage goer.  I’m always busy, but at the cottage I can focus my energy on having fun on the water, spending time with my family and doing the odd reno.   It’s a quick way to recharge, even if just for a day.  And, I’m lucky that my cottage is a fairly easy drive from the city so we treat it like an Igloo cottage.  We often hold team off sites there to allow us to plan, connect as a team, and have fun, and every year at our holiday party Igloo employees are entered into a draw to win the cottage for a week with their family or friends.  I’m a big believer in the productivity benefits associated with a strong work/life balance.

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