Life in the Dashlane – what I’ve learnt

Emmanuel Schalit
- Leadership - Oct 29, 2019

Emmanuel Schalit, CEO, Dashlane, shares his advice on growing a company. 

Building a business isn’t easy. Building a successful business with funding, international acclaim, and awards is even harder. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it, and it would no longer be a pursuit worth striving for. Dashlane is one example of a successful business, but there are many, many more. 

Dashlane recently raised $110 million in its latest funding round, led by Sequoia Capital. This was a huge milestone for us, and a testament to the team’s hard work. But our journey hasn’t been easy by any means. As with any start up, challenges are inevitable. I wanted to share some tough lessons and decisions I’ve learned along the way in the hope that businesses following a similar path to Dashlane can take heed and apply where necessary. 

Don’t try to predict the future

The advice I like to give aspiring entrepreneurs comes from Jeff Bezos. To paraphrase, rather than trying to know what will change over the next decade, work to understand what won’t. It is easier to build a business around things that are stable over time, rather than trying to predict the future.

Dashlane was founded in Paris in 2009, but at the time, there wasn’t a huge amount of technology funding available for password-related technologies. In fact, everyone thought that either single sign-on with Google and Facebook or biometrics would be the future, and passwords were on the way out. We thought differently, and continued to work on improving the broken UX of the internet by bridging the gap between security and convenience. We invested heavily in our patented security architecture and developing a best-in-class user experience.

Ten years later, we have offices in New York, Paris, and Lisbon, and our autofill engine saves customers an average of 50 hours per year they’d otherwise spend on internet drudgery, from password entry to typing out address and credit card details every time they shop online. 

Remember who you are

As we became a global company with French roots, we knew our Dashlane workforce would be disparate; some in Europe and some in New York. Face-to-face conversations are a crucial part of any business, especially when founding a company. The ability to instil and earn trust among the talent you bring on board is imperative, as is being able to accurately share feelings, ideas, and information. With this in mind, we invested (and continue to re-invest) in high-quality video conferencing technology to ensure that we can all see each other when we needed to, and that conversing between teams, no matter the geography, would be seamless.

But conversations through video are pre-planned and have set agendas, while in reality many great ideas and collaborations are born through spontaneity and proximity. Video conferencing undoubtedly helps us foster a sense of community and maintain communication, but we still encourage employees to travel to our other offices and interact with colleagues that aren’t part of their normal workflows. 

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Stay true to – and share – your beliefs

Company culture and belief must be paramount when you hire people. You trust that their peers are well-intentioned and equally bought into the mission. As we grow, team spirit and cohesiveness is only going to become more important.

Whilst the next 10 years may be veiled by the fog of the future, I’m confident that Dashlane’s culture and outlook on business will persevere. And there is no reason that it can’t work for other companies too. There may be challenging times, as there are in any business, but having a firm grasp on some fundamental beliefs and attitudes will help any firm grow, stay strong, and maybe even secure funding to further their ambition.

 

For more information on all business in Europe, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief Europe

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