Co-Founder Dan on Simplifying Equity for Startup Founders

Dan, Co-Founder of QuotaBook shares how he strives to make equity simple.

Co-Founder Dan Hong on Building an Easy Startup Solution

Today we have Dan, co-founder of QuotaBook, sharing his story on building QuotaBook.

Story of Dan Hong, co-founder of Quotabook, the equity management platform for startups and investors

Bbinio (B): Hello, Dan. Shall we start off with a brief introduction?

Dan (D): Hi, I’m Dan, co-founder of QuotaBook. I’m mainly in charge of sales for startups. Previously, I worked at Kakao Ventures as a Business Analyst and Kakao Corp in business development and data analytics.

As a VC, I used to review investments in early-stage startups. I met many startup founders and learned a lot by observing their growth and problem-solving skills. It was then when Andy suggested me to start QuotaBook together.

B: What made you to take the offer and start QuotaBook?

D: To answer this question, I’d need to talk about my early 20s when I encountered death of a close acquaintance of my age. I looked back on my life, continuously questioning whether my life was worthy and how I should live on.

I thought, “if I were to do a A/B test with my own life, one with me in it and the other without, my existence would be evaluated by the difference between the two.” That’s why I decided to start a company building software, because I believe software is powerful enough to bring value and create change. In a sense, QuotaBook is a way to prove my life’s value and worthiness.

Dan explains why he started Quotabook and what kind of problems he wants to solve.

B: You must have received many different offers but why QuotaBook?

D: The problem QuotaBook was trying to solve was something I desperately wanted to tackle as well.

I owned another company in the past, and this first experience in starting a business was so stressful I realized that I should be seriously crazy about solving the problem at hand. I decided never to start a business again unless I felt the crazy urge to solve the problem. Then, I met QuotaBook.

B: How did you get to work together with Andy?

D: I worked with Andy at the venture capital. Andy was someone who’d make everything work somehow, even when it just seemed impossible. I saw this as a must-have trait for founders, which was also something I wanted to learn from him.

I once asked Andy if he could share a story that shows who he is, and he told me an episode back in his elementary school days. His parents wouldn’t get him a Lego, so he created a survey on the educational effect of Legos, distributed it to his classmates and persuaded his parents with the results. When I heard this story, I thought starting a company with him would be a great choice.

B: What are the specific responsibilities you handle now at QuotaBook?

D: I meet with startups’ C-levels, figure out their difficulties in managing equity and stock options, and explain how QuotaBook can solve them. I mostly focus on companies that have raised more than USD 10M. These bigger companies have more complex needs and require a person who understands the overall investment field. I use my experience as a VC to catch customers’ needs more closely and guide them in detail. Through this process, I identify new pain points raised by customers and coordinate with the product team to decide which new features should be included in our software.

Dan takes charge of sales for startups to help manage their cap table and stock options.

B: Are there any difficulties in delivering QuotaBook’s value to the customers?

D: In the very early days, I was so eager to introduce every feature we had. I used up a whole hour to go over the platform, and asked clients what they needed the most just before finishing up the call. Now that I think about it, it was a silly process (laughter). As soon as I realized people are more interested in how QuotaBook can solve their problems, I start by asking a lot of questions and focused only on relevant features. These days, the meeting is much shorter and ends in about 15–20 minutes but about 80% of the meetings end up with customers wanting to use our product right away.

B: What’s your biggest concern nowadays?

D: I’m looking for ways to prioritize various customer needs. One of QuotaBook’s core values is being customer oriented. We try to listen to every customer feedback but it’s impossible to reflect everything simultaneously. I continuously wonder which needs are the most important and am extremely careful about this, as the entire direction of the product team can shift depending on my decision.

At the end of the day, I love getting positive feedback from the users on features that were built by proper prioritization.

B: What was the most memorable sales deal for you?

D: There’s a Singaporean startup that just finished the onboarding process with QuotaBook. They were actually weighing two different options, QuotaBook and another competitor that was already a company worth billions of dollars. It was like the David and Goliath match (laughter). I tried to show how interested we are in solving any equity issues they have and eventually, we won the deal. That was really a thrilling moment. I think they chose us because we understood their needs instantly and provided the service that they were looking for.

Dan talks about the episode how Quotabook could secure a Singapore startup as a customer.

B: Moving on, what kind of colleagues do you want to work with?

D: Personally, I have two criteria. First, I like energetic people that constantly try out new things and are never afraid of challenges even when they must take the risk of changing the entire system. These new challenges always involve learning, so people full of energy always end up growing faster.

Second, I want to work with people that have much experience and are thoughtful, those who constantly bring in something to the table. I think of everyone as a book. We are made up of series of experiences and it’s interesting to get to know people through conversations. It’s not fun if the book is short. I like someone who is full of surprises, someone I can be inspired by. Those are the ones I want to work with.

B: Then what kind of leader do you want to be in the team?

D: That’s something I’m still asking myself. I want to be a leader who can guide my team members to better achieve their goal. I’ve always tried to give as much help as possible to someone who’s in need so that they can work better, overall creating synergy.

B: What’s the best part of QuotaBook’s culture?

D: You can literally try anything to solve problems. Also, you are surrounded by smart teammates and everyone will work together with you to get things going. I think this is the biggest advantage of working at QuotaBook.

Quotabook team is working on to hear the voice of customers and solve the problems they have.

B: Do you think QuotaBook is on the right track to achieve its initial goal?

D: From the perspective of providing convenience to customers, there’s still a lot to go, but I think we are on the right track. Great people are continuously joining QuotaBook, allowing us to think deeply in the shoes of users and to build necessary features. As a result, there are several killer features loved by our users. Based on this, I hope to speed up our growth and reach our end goal.

B: What is the end goal of QuotaBook?

D: To make a service that many global startups and investors naturally use. Just like how people use Facebook or Whatsapp to chat and communicate with others, I hope managing equity on QuotaBook becomes the norm.

B: What about you? What’s your life’s goal?

D: I simply want to fix inefficiencies. To give you an example, Bill Gates is currently running various projects such as polio vaccination, African water quality improvement, and safe nuclear power plant establishment. They seem like welfare projects, but Bill Gates thinks of them as solving the world’s inefficiencies. This part is very much in line with my definition of a startup. I believe launching a startup is to solve the existing inefficiencies. And that’s what I also pursue in my life.

Currently, I am solving the inefficiency in private equity management, but if and when possible, I’d like to try a startup related to politics. I want to build a more efficient political infrastructure based on IT.

B: Any last words to say?

D: There are certain things you can see only from the inside. Seen from the outside, QuotaBook is like an egg going through a very long incubation phase but from the inside, we are just about to hatch. Hope you all continue to keep an eye on QuotaBook’s journey and if anyone is interested to know more, please reach out!

Make equity simple with QuotaBook - QuotaBook is a SaaS-based equity management solution for both Startups and Venture Capital funds. Startups and VCs can sync crucial equity-related data such as cap tables, employee stock options as well as investor updates on our platform so that every stakeholder can communicate through a single source of truth. QuotaBook is the No. 1 equity management software for startups in Korea, trusted by 2000+ startups & VCs and backed by more than 20 VC funds.


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