We took 10 minutes out to learn more about our former piano accordion playing CEO, Darragh Geoghegan.
1. CAN YOU TELL ME HOW YOU GOT TO YOUR CURRENT ROLE TODAY?
By default!! Is that not what happens with Founders everywhere? There were 3 co-founders at the start of Effective. Billy, Colm & I. for the first 2 years we were actually a software and a services business – initially more focused on the services and with Colm as the CEO. In 2010 Colm had to make a call and returned to full time employment….with start-ups the founders are unfortunately the last ones to get paid and in the early days it can be tough. So I stepped in as CEO to keep it going. We switched our focus to just making the best safety software we could and making our customers as successful as possible and started to grow from there.
2. WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP AND WHY?
It used to vary wildly between a solider, a ninja and an astronaut, it depended on the day you got me. From about 15 onward I wanted to be an engineer, at that stage for me I just liked the idea of solving problems and how things worked. I qualified as an engineer and after 2 years in industry felt I wanted to go in a different direction. I wanted to be my own boss. I set up my first company, a construction company in the heady boom days of Celtic Tiger Ireland. Then into software through Effective. Although I think I have gone 360, now when people ask what I want to be when I grow up, it’s usually a Ninja!
3. WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT WORKING IN THE SAAS INDUSTRY?
Such a big question and one we could probably spend hours or days on. From a business perspective, the model is attractive and makes financial sense to both vendor and customer. We can provide solutions to problems at a far better cost than traditional on-premise software and working with hundreds or thousands of customers allows us to learn what our customers want and need, react far quicker than an on-premise provider can and ensure we keep adding value. And with a lot of the world leading SaaS companies based out of San Francisco / Bay Area there’s some great conference opportunities.
4. WHO’S YOUR GO TO INDUSTRY MOGUL/MENTOR AND WHY?
I’d love to say I have a personal mentor but to be honest right now I don’t. I hope to change that this year and that is one of my personal goals for 2017. But I do rely heavily on reading and listening to industry peers and experts. I don’t always have the opportunity to make time to read full books, usually that’s on longer flights or holidays. Blogs and podcasts over the last few years have really helped me learn, Jason Lemkin (SaaStr) and Tomasz Tunguz are 2 that I swear by on the business side. An article will often lead me on to do a bit of research, download an e-book or put a book on the reading list for the next flight.
5. HOW MANY MESSAGES ARE IN YOUR INBOX RIGHT NOW?
Four. But I’ll have them gone after I finish this. I went on a bit of quest to hit inbox zero toward the end of last year. I used to spend so much time stuck in outlook it felt like it was my main or only work tool. I spent about 2 days over a weekend clearing out unwanted subscriptions and setting up a new mail client, Polymail. Now I set aside time mid-morning and mid-afternoon to deal with email. Anything I can’t answer straight away I move to a task list in Trello and put a priority on it. We use Slack internally more and more which helps too. I still need a bit of work on my Trello action lists but every successful productivity hack helps a little and allows me to focus on the more important things, so bit by bit getting better.
6. HAVE YOU EVER STOLEN A PEN FROM WORK?
Pens, notebooks, hi-viz vests, tote-bags, coffee cup. My house is somewhat littered with various Effective marketing paraphernalia. I’m hoping that’s not dishonest and I am just putting in an extra bit of work at company PR & marketing at the local supermarket and coffee shop!
7. ON A SCALE OF 1-10, HOW LUCKY ARE YOU AND WHY?
Okay, so I could give you the standard – the harder you work, the luckier you get answer. There is truth in that for sure, and in my naivety I may be guilty of saying on occasion I don’t believe in luck. There is a need for timing and being in the right place or having the right team or meeting the right customer at a conference or investor at a meeting. As a young guy, I was lucky enough to win some Irish and International martial arts titles ….after working my ass off for 12 years to get there. With Effective I have been lucky enough to grow the company from 0 – 2M ARR (and growing) but only after having amazing people to work with and busting all of our asses for 5 years. I am very lucky to have met the right coach in a sport I loved as a kid. We have been really lucky signing up a few a key clients early on that have worked as advocates for Effective and I am really lucky to have an amazing team here working to transform how people manage safety and grow as people in and with Effective. So in fairness right now it feels like a 10.
8. WHAT SONG BEST DESCRIBES YOUR WORK ETHIC?
This one is tough. So I’ll give 3 (all of which are provided with a tongue firmly planted in my cheek):
For the workaholic: Heigh Ho, Its off to work we go – The Seven Dwarfs
For the optimist: Ain’t no stopping me now – McFadden & Whitehead
For our competitors: U Can’t Touch This – MC Hammer
9. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING YOU HAVE EVER DONE?
It’s a tie between 2 things really:
The first was my 1st Dan Blackbelt. It was a seven hour physical and mental test that pushed me to my limits and beyond. Near blackouts, exhaustion and mental tests that really forced me to look inside and figure out what I am willing to do to achieve the things I want.
The second one, my first solo skydive. I had done a tandem previously and loved it but facing the unknown on your own for the first time, dealing with that sensory overload, trying to get to door of the plane and face the fear that was building up. It was hard. But the reward was immense…..and I’ve done it 800 times since, so it got easier and I ended up loving it!
10. TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF NOT MANY PEOPLE KNOW?
I used to play the piano accordion. I could rock out a mean Irish Cieli (Traditional Irish Dancing) tune by the age of 9!