Dan Merritts – CEO of F#

[quote style=”boxed”]I have a ton of bad ideas. Each idea should be assessed before jumping in and executing. Ideas are cheap. Execution is expensive. Always better to kill bad ideas quickly.[/quote]

Nearly 15 years of innovative, industry-shaping experience leading product management, marketing, sales and operations for diverse, venture-backed startups. Dan helped pioneer contextual advertising at Affinia; cloud-computing at Loudcloud (became Opsware; acquired by HP); secure mobile device management at Zenprise; textbook rentals at Bookrenter; and eTextbooks at Kno. Dan’s education includes an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management, and a B.S. in Economics and a B.S. in Operations Management from Santa Clara University.

What are you working on right now?

Global pricing strategy for Europe at 2am.

Where did the idea for F# come from?

It evolved. I didn’t set out to create F# as it is today. A single advisory request lead to the realization that there’s something interesting at play with ad-supported music platforms.

What does your typical day look like?

Every day is a bit different. I like it that way. I appreciate the unexpected and embrace the variety. I typically wake up around 7am to get caught up on European emails while I drink my first cup of coffee. From there, I’m typically in a marathon of phone calls until I breakaway at 10am to head to the office. Most days are spent working with the team on helping solve problems faster and meeting new people who may be able to help us.

Since my day is consumed with interactions, I typically catch up on work from 7pm to midnight. Sometimes I get to breakaway early… sometimes.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Carefully. I have a ton of bad ideas. Each idea should be assessed before jumping in and executing. Ideas are cheap. Execution is expensive. Always better to kill bad ideas quickly.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Purposeful advertising. Excited to see truly immersive ad experiences that reward consumers instead of interrupting them. I’m personal tired of disjointed ads, bad TV spots and banner ads that take over everything!

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

When I was 16, I spent the summer helping run logistics for the nation’s largest moving company. I learned that the moving business is shady. And, that I’d rather stick to technology – the next summer I started a small web consulting business.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Spend more time recruiting. It’s always important to have a healthy pipeline of talent interested in your company.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Acknowledge and learn from my mistakes. We all make mistakes. Own them. Analyze them. And, figure out how to not make them again. Of course, even the best of us will make the same mistake again. The faster you make them, the faster you can correct them.

What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Resource contention. There are a million things one could do, but only one or two things we should do at a time. Focus. Deliver. Re-prioritize. Over and over again too many projects are started without finishing the last one.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Here’s a good one… I think there’s fundamentally a need to be able to automatically clip, save and search information that comes through one’s social profiles. People no longer save. They like. They plus. They tweet. How many times have you said: Remember that thing on someone’s newsfeed and couldn’t find it? There needs to be a solution.

So essentially, a modern day bookmarking system that doesn’t suck. There are certainly some great start-ups getting closer to solving this problem. However, I don’t think anyone has solved the problem of social history management and guided information discovery in a very easy to use method. In our world where noise is the norm, long-tail signal can truly help make one’s life more rewarding.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

I think education should be more accessible to everyone in the world. I continue to support and think about the world of education.

Tell us a secret.

I only eat one meal a day.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

Asana – a great to-do list for keeping things moving.
Expensify – makes putting together that dreaded expense report all that much easier.
Gmail – I will never return to a software-based email client; short-cut keys and search make things 10x faster.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

David Kidder’s upcoming book. Just wait and see.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

I’m a bit bored with Twitter at the moment…let me open up Flipboard and see:
Brad Feld – he’s a great guy and very personable; he writes a ton about life’s challenges.
Peter Pham – always admired his work and the partnerships he’s able to close.
Ian Rogers – he’s so tapped into the music scene, I’m always discovering something new from him.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

This weekend was non-stop. Great friends, telling amazing stories.

Who is your hero?

Batman, because how can Batman not be a hero.

What’s unique about F#?

We believe online advertising isn’t where it could be, or needs to be. It needs to be more engaging and serve a purpose. We specialize in creating purposeful ads that reward the consumer. We also tap into an element to create a stronger tie between the consumer and the brand – music.

What gets you excited in the morning?

I’m a builder. I love building new products and companies. Everyday is exciting because I know my team is going to build something that is amazing, new, and – hopefully – useful.

What do you do to escape NYC?

I love to ski. I’ve skied all over the world – from some of the highest mountains, steepest hills, and deepest snow. My favorite place to ski – other than where I grew up in Colorado – is eastern British Columbia, Canada. I try to get out there every year for Snow Cat or Heli-skiing. It’s amazing – go!


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