This week’s hot seat interview is with Dan Scott, formerly co-founder and COO of Airsorted, excitingly for us Dan will now be spending time with E1 as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence.
Back when Dan first pitched us several years ago, we knew he was the caliber of founder that we love to back. We are excited to see what he decides to build next. And in the meantime, he brings a wealth of operational insight to the Episode1 community.
1. What’s your name and where do you come from?
Daniel Scott, Episode 1
2. Give us a quick overview of your previous role and what you are focusing on now.
I co-founded and was COO at Airsorted, the world’s leading hosting management service for short lets. I’m now an EIR (Entrepreneur in Residence) with Episode 1. It’s a great place to base myself while I work towards my next venture – thanks for having me!
3. What’s the next big idea that nobody is thinking about yet? Why is this so important?
I think there is a huge opportunity in finding a way to keep people digitally connected without losing touch with the space around you and the people in it. Maybe that’s a really subtle wearable i.e. a digital contact lens, or something else – but it’s so important because there’s a danger that we are quickly becoming a more atomised society.
4. Looking back to the day you founded Airsorted, what is the one thing you wish you had known before starting off?
I wish i knew how valuable it can be to spend time outside of your business talking through your challenges with other founders – even when it seems a bit of crazy thing to be doing when you’re so busy.
5. How do you define success for you?
I want to build longstanding businesses that deliver real value to customers at scale – and I want to become a bigger, better and rounder version of myself along the way.
6. What behaviour or personality trait do you most attribute to your ability to achieve what you have achieved so far?
I have a willingness and desire to go out of my comfort zone to stretch what’s possible for me and the teams I’m part of. This trait isn’t unique to entrepreneurs but it is a pre-requisite to building and growing a company because you’re forever encountering new experiences.
7. What’s your top idea to improve diversity in the workplace?
Measurement is the first step to drive change. I’d love to create software that measured the metadata of conversations to evaluate and benchmark the quality of ‘teamwork’ in a business without taking full audio recording. This could be used in a number of ways, for example to track interruptions and talk time in meetings across gender, race or other variables. I think the data might surprise many people.
8. What is the best advice you have ever been given and by whom?
I can’t recall the best advice I have been given but one piece of bad advice has stuck with me. A Swiss banker once told a teenage me that my plan to study languages was a mistake and that I ought to do something ‘useful’ like Maths or Economics. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to him – languages have allowed me to work in France, Germany and Spain and helped me to think both creatively and analytically.
9. What was the most useful resource (networks/books/websites/blogs) you used when starting out?
Hire with your Head by Lou Adler (pretty dry but so useful on how to hire properly) and Radical Focus by Christina Wodtke (a fun short introduction to OKRs and the power of focus). The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz is also a helpful reminder that as tough as you might have had it, it’s probably going to get even tougher.
10. What is the single most important thing you’ve done to increase the value of your business?
I hired some great people and worked hard to keep them engaged with what we were trying to achieve as a business.
11. What has been the hardest decision you’ve had to make in your entrepreneurial journey?
Leaving Airsorted was a tough one! It can be difficult to let go when you have been so deeply involved and love the business but sometimes the time is right and you’re ready for the next challenge.
12. What will be the biggest change to how we lead our lives in 15 years? And what won’t have changed?
I believe that we are going to learn to use technology in more meaningful ways and to better serve us as humans. This will happen both from the ground up – as people express their needs for things like community and belonging, access to nature and time to rest – as well as from government, which recognises that just because something is technically possible, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good thing.
13. Tell us something we don’t know about you?
I am completely passionate about sauna and the natural high in your body when you leave a hot room and jump into cold water – it feels amazing. I recently made a ‘sauna tour’ to Scandinavia with a couple of mates. Bathing culture is a special thing and it can be really invigorating and social – unlike the typical image that you might have of a British spa.
14. If you could be offline for 3 days- where would you go and what would you do?
A few friends and I have a bit of a tradition of taking a few days off pre-Christmas to switch off the phones and go hiking in the British countryside. It does get dark early (we have got lost a few times) but it feels special to be out in the wild while people are doing their Christmas shopping.