Jon Darbyshire Podcast Transcript

Headshot of Co-Founder and CEO Jon Darbyshire

Jon Darbyshire Podcast Transcript

Jon Darbyshire joins host Brian Thomas on The Digital Executive Podcast.

Welcome to Coruzant Technologies, home of the Digital Executive Podcast.

[00:00:12] Brian Thomas: Welcome to the Digital Executive. Today’s guest is John Derbyshire. John Derbyshire is the co-founder and CEO of SmartSuite. In 2021, John and his team launched SmartSuite, the work management platform that manages any process from any industry on one platform. Now SmartSuite unites essential elements used to get work done, regardless of company size or type.

In the year 2000, John founded Archer Technologies, an enterprise governance, risk, and compliance software giving business users, not developers, the ability to adapt software to their unique business requirements. John and the Archer team built a flexible, award winning platform and solution suite that became the mainstay of governance, risk, and compliance teams for some of the world’s most powerful organizations, including one in three of the Fortune 100.

Archer Technologies was purchased by EMC Corporation in 2010.

Well, good afternoon, John. Welcome to the show.

[00:01:07] Jon Darbyshire: It’s a pleasure to be here, Brian. Looking forward to our conversation.

[00:01:09] Brian Thomas: Absolutely. This is so fun. And I know we always get some time behind the mic, or before we hit the record anyway. I appreciate our kind of upbringing.

We started out in the Kansas area and we both ventured out to that area called Orange County, California, which is an awesome place, obviously. So appreciate you making the time today.

John jumping in, we want to talk about your career a little bit. We can get your story out to our global audience.

You’ve got an amazing career in software. You’re a serial entrepreneur now Co founder and CEO of SmartSuite. Could you share with our audience, the secret to your career growth and what inspires you?

[00:01:44] Jon Darbyshire: Absolutely. Yeah, I’ll go back to one of my early jobs. I was a partner at Ernst Young and had the chance to run one of their consulting practices.

And that’s where I really grew up. Around all things, business process. So at Ernst Young, everything that you talked about or did inside of that organization was thought about as a process. And how could you replicate that process across different customers to take advantage of that? Think of me as all things process that kind of led me into the software world to help automate business processes.

And my passion is around no code software development. I had the opportunity to build a company in 2000 that I sold in 2010 retired for some bit of time, didn’t think I was going to go back to work and found that I really, I lost my passion. Like I, I wanted to get up every day with a reason to go do things and just having fun and experiencing things wasn’t enough for me.

So, I jumped back into the tech space about four years ago.

[00:02:37] Brian Thomas: Love that story. And there’s so much we can do to make the world a better place. I’ve talked to people all the time that are creating the latest drug, right. To stop cancer, whatever it is, but it’s what really makes humans move forward is when they have something they’re passionate about and they know they’re going to better off the world by it.

So thank you again for the story. Appreciate it, John.

[00:02:57] Jon Darbyshire: Yeah, absolutely.

[00:02:58] Brian Thomas: So, John, your product SmartSuite touts a collaborative work management platform that enables teams to play, track, and manage any workflow in any vertical within an organization. That’s what I really like about it because I’ve seen a lot of this software out there.

How is your software leading the way amongst your competitors?

[00:03:15] Jon Darbyshire: Yeah, what we tried to do that’s a little different is we tried to combine 5 or 6 traditional software categories into a single product. And the goal was to help organizations be able to manage any process or project that they have inside of their company on a single platform.

And what we found typically is that most employees inside of an organization use 7 to 9 different products to kind of in the performance of their job each day. Our thought process was, can we bring that down to 3, maybe Smart Suite and a couple other core platforms that are at an organization that’s there.

So that’s what we built. We brought together categories around project management, process management, business analytics, integration automation type work. And then we. Encapsulated that with a U. I. That’s very specific for millennials and Gen Z years, meaning that it’s built in looks and feels the way that they want to see the software as they work.

And we feel that those particular groups of people are who get work done in most organizations, and we need to captivate their attention in way that’s different than maybe my generation of that. So, they really care about collaboration, how they can easily Collaborate across not just members of their team, but different departments in a company, how they can see activities that are taking place inside of the company, and then things will be very visual.

So, we built all of those core elements in and that’s what begins to set SmartSuite apart.

[00:04:36] Brian Thomas: Thank you. And that’s great that you’re starting to look at. Obviously, we want to get our customers our best feedback, right? And we want to have the great customer experience. But I appreciate that you’re including those generations that are more apt on their mobile phone, et cetera, and good about communicating, collaborating from that perspective.

So, thank you for sharing that. It’s a little bit different than what we generally see you and I in the Gen X category. So, thank you. john, we are a technology platform publication podcast. As you know, I’m a techie been doing this for a lot of years. You’re obviously leveraging some of that new emerging tech in your business or your tech stack.

Is there anything you might be able to share with us today?

[00:05:14] Jon Darbyshire: Yeah, I would say that I went from 0 to 100. Just about 90 days ago across the software industry, meaning that we’ve talked about it and all of us have built core features kind of been behind the scenes, but with Open AI that came out, they enabled everybody to build that type of technology very easily into your product.

And the value that brings back to customers is really 2-fold right now that we’re seeing across the industry. The 1st is just in the generation of content. Let’s say that you are a marketing agency, and you’re creating lots of press releases on blog articles and things for your customers you can go into a product like Smart Suite.

Now tell it about the type of content that you want to create, the tone that you want to have the audience that you need to speak with the keywords that you want to focus on. How long you would like that to be, and it will generate that content in about 12 seconds for you. Let’s say it’s a 1500-word blog article.

Maybe that’s been optimized for a particular case. What that allows organizations to do, especially marketing agencies, is they can create a lot more content. But they can spend more time thinking about what they want the content to be and how they want it to influence people, maybe in different buying patterns that are there.

So, they’re thinking more about their job and the outcome as compared to the actual writing that’s taking place. If you’re a product company. And you’re writing product requirements, the same thing. Maybe a product manager could write a business requirement for a particular feature to sell to management in maybe an hour, hour and a half on something that maybe took a couple of days to do in the past, because it took a lot of time to research this there.

The other side of that is analyzing content so that you already have content that’s in place. And maybe you had a 4- or 5-page business plan, and you need to summarize that into 2 paragraphs. Chat. GPT is very good at doing things like that are creating action plans or action list off of those or even helping analyze the content for you.

To tell you what it’s saying, maybe you’re presenting it with sales data and it’s coming back and saying that maybe 20% of your customers represent 80% of your revenue in these particular cohorts. So maybe you should spend more time marketing specifically to this group of people that’s there.

So, AI is, and it’s not just in Smart Suite, but AI is taking off inside of the software space to help people both create content and then analyze content that’s already been created.

[00:07:30] Brian Thomas: You’re absolutely right. We were seeing all kinds of acceleration and technology over the last few years with the COVID obviously.

But you’re right. AI just zero to a hundred, I’d say zero to 500 in the last 90 days. But yeah, it’s so amazing that we are taking advantage of this and making our products better for our customers. So, John, thanks for sharing. John, last question of the day. Can you share something from your career experience?

That would be helpful for those listening this evening looking to grow their career in either tech or entrepreneurship.

[00:08:01] Jon Darbyshire: Yeah, I’ll give it to you from my perspective as an employer of hiring some just great young talent in the companies that I’ve had the chance to work with and being able to see the, that talent kind of blossom over time over maybe 20, 25 years that’s there.

But I think any company is only as good as the people that they hire. And it’s up to the employers to take the time necessary to find the right people that fits the culture of the organization, but also fits the culture of the people that they’re working with on the teams that they’re a part of.

And that’s a whole process in itself. That’s not just an interview. Typically, it typically starts with an interview, but then you have to find ways to pull that information. out of the candidates along with maybe the people that you’re working with. And I found super effective early in my career and that we would do interviews in the morning at 10 o’clock on purpose.

Because if we found a candidate that we liked, we would invite them to lunch. We typically invited four other people to go with me in a candidate. We sat at the same restaurant at the same big round table. For each interview, and it was interesting to see when we didn’t talk about work, if the conversation could carry itself across the group of people.

And I found that when you found somebody that you like, and they have the technical skills and they fit in the next big pieces, can they really fit into the group of people? And interact. And is that a positive or negative energy that happened? So that helped us decide and find those the positive energy that was there.

But it also gave the candidate the chance to sell themselves outside of work, meaning just a normal conversation, getting to know them. They had a chance to present themselves. And what we found was it turned into kind of a rite of passing across the 100 plus people that we hired through that same process, going to that same restaurant where they had things in common and they would talk about the time that they spent together that hour, hour and a half at lunch, and it was meaningful for them.

So, the candidates felt great. We felt great when we found a candidate that was there. I felt like that was something that I’ve carried through now for 25 years. Everywhere that I’ve gone are entrepreneurs that I work with. I encourage them to find their own process that helps the candidates feel comfortable and allows them to sell themselves in that situation.

[00:10:06] Brian Thomas: Thank you. That’s very helpful. And John that’s awesome. I think that helps a lot of people, especially younger hiring managers, they’re typically promoted and saying, hey, you got to go hire your first staff or your first team. And They’re not a lot of times, not given their training till probably 10 years later.

We’ve seen in statistics. So, thank you for sharing some of that. And those are gems that our audience absolutely loves. Thanks again, John.

[00:10:28] Jon Darbyshire: Oh, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you, Brian.

You bet. And it was certainly my pleasure having you on John, and I look forward to speaking with you real soon.

All right. Thank you very much.

[00:10:36] Brian Thomas: Bye for now.

Jon Darbyshire Podcast Transcript. Listen to the audio on the guest’s podcast page.


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