Monday, October 27, 2008

Rocket Man Dan

He appeared one day like a bolt right out of the blue - his note dropping into my inbox on August 5, 2004 at precisely 9:52 p.m.

I will never forget meeting Dan for the first time. Never realizing back then how "normal" it would have been for him to meet in that fashion (via e-mail) and how we would impact each others careers.

As it turned out, Dan had a friend who was attending one of the entrepreneurship seminars regularly presented in the Moncton, NB area through CBDC and the great work of Sharon Geldart. The friend, Cory Schop, was starting a new company with Dan, called Spheric Technologies and as fate would have it, Cory passed along a book recommendation that his buddy, then based in Ohio, jumped all over.

Here is an excerpt from what Dan wrote back:

Knowing I had to drive 6 hours (Cleveland, OH -> Baltimore, Maryland ) I stopped into the local Borders book store and planned on getting a few audio books to help pass the time. I couldn’t find anything good, but I glanced over and remembered Cory’s recommendation for E-Myth so I snatch it up along with a few others.

Anyways, I drove straight for 6 hours late into the night listening attentively to the words of Michael Gerber and the story of “All about Pies”. I remember talking to myself asking, even to the point of screaming out “How do I create a company like you’re describing – just tell me how, I want to do it.”... Finally towards then end of the book he elaborated a bit on the concepts, reviewed the position contracts, and how to ensure everyone was on the same page. That resonated deeply in me, and I sold. I was soo excited that I couldn’t wait to share my new found insight with my business partner that I was meeting. In fact, I believed so much into it, that I thought – “What if he doesn’t see what I see in regard to doing it this way? What will I do” – well, that was simple… I didn’t know much, but I did know this 1) I knew that I didn’t want to run a company any other way. 2) If he couldn’t see that – then I wouldn’t go through with the merger. I would find another way!

There was something about the intensity of that e-mail even back then, that told me this guy's star was going to be rising; that the business he was launching would take off like a ruby rocket sled on rails.

Last week, those prophecies were realized as 28-year old Dan Martell was honored as the New Brunswick recipient of the Business Development Bank of Canada's (BDC) 2008 Young Entrepreneur Award at a posh ceremony held in Vancouver, B.C. Up-and-comers between the ages of 19 and 35 from across Canada are selected by a panel of veteran business people, based on criteria including originality of the business concept, its success, growth potential and social involvement.

In just a few years, Spheric Technologies' Facebook-type social networking innovations have become a hot property with Fortune 500 clients throughout North America. Dan started Spheric as a computer consulting company with a team of high-tech talent working remotely from locations across Canada. To connect with each other, the team developed extensive expertise in social networking tools such as video, podcasting, wikis and micro-blogging. Dan pursued North America's major systems integrators and demand for his team's services skyrocketed with a stellar client roster that includes Procter & Gamble, Bristol & Myers Squibb, Dole Foods, Johnson & Johnson, and more. Cracking the "PROFIT Magazine HOT 50 List", Spheric ( now has 28 full-time employees, year after year of exponential growth and 2007 sales of over 2.2 million dollars. Over the past 24 months, Spheric Technologies has grown by 152% with 89% of their sales generated through export markets. (See more at "Spheric in the Sun", posted on TSB, September 19, 2008).

A key factor in Spheric's growth is the outsourcing of all support functions-including finance, human resources, sales and marketing-to external providers, with requirements for every function fully documented. As Martell explains, "This way, we can easily duplicate our approach elsewhere. When we entered the United States, we just replicated the same model we used in Canada. It has really allowed us to grow." Internally, Spheric is guided by its "triple bottom line": community,customers and company. "Community is a big part of the equation," Dan says."We donate one percent of our time, assets and revenues to non-profit organizations, leveraging what we do best." A local example is the new collaborative online community Spheric is building for the Moncton Boys and Girls Club. The company is donating equipment, money and the expertise of the entire team. Globally, Spheric matches employee donations to, a micro-lending service for entrepreneurs around the world. Thanks to this spirit of this "compassionate capitalism", Spheric also earned the BDC National Community Invovolvment Award which carried with it a $15,000 prize.

A great example of the human spirit that Dan Martell helped ignite at Spheric is personified by these observations from Josh Merchant who shared his thoughts about the company and what they do at a recent Third Tuesday New Brunswick get together.

Thanks to Dan's help, The Seamless Brand was able to enter the social media blogosphere back in late July, yet another example of how this guy is only too willing to pitch in when a friend needs a hand. In fact, there are few more passionate than Dan when it comes to evangelizing the virtues of social media and thanks to people like him and Third Tuesday NB folks like Chris Nadeau and Lisa Rousseau, ordinary people get to learn about extraordinary technologies and how they will impact the way we live and work in the future.

When the all-too-short New Brunswick summer came to an end in August, Daniel could be seen travelling on a plane, heading not to Spain, but to San Francisco where he is now involved in the Silicon Valley venture capital scene. He has been networking and Twittering his ass off, attending dozens of conferences, connecting with people like Tim Sanders, and linking up with angel investors interested in helping "cool start-ups" leave the launch pad.

I know he will hate me for doing this but, hey don't shoot me - I'm only the blogger.

Congratulations Dan, from all your friends and family back home.

Take a bow and stay safe brother.

"And I think it's gonna be a long long time, Till touch down brings me round again to find. I'm not the man they think I am at home. Oh no no no...I'm a rocket man. Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone"


walkinggal said...

Great write up on Don. I think anyone who has ever met Dan, recognizes immediately his passion and motivation and can see why he has been so successful. I know that NB definitely will feel his absence but fortunately because of twitter and other media, he's only a message away:)

jonreid said...

Very well put. I've worked with Dan for several years, only a couple of months face to face. I can say without a doubt that whether he's physically in Moncton or not, he'll continue to have an effect here.

dmartell said...

Truly humbled Gair. Wow... don't know what to say. You got me teary eyed.

Lisa, I really miss NB! (especially after listening to those Videos). We're very fortunate that technology allows us to stay connected, but there's nothing that beats a hug from a good friend.

Jon - be sure to call on me if there's anything I can do. I want to help "build a bridge" to The Valley, so anything I can do - let me know.