Today’s Guest(s)!

Dan Kogan, CEO
1Digital Agency

Episode Summary

In this week’s awesome episode we welcome Dan Kogan, CEO at 1Digital Agency, a group of design innovators, development virtuosos, and digital marketing fanatics with a passion for eCommerce that runs deep. 1Digital® draws eCommerce talent from all over the country, providing diverse skills and problem-solving abilities devoted to putting together every piece of the eCommerce puzzle.

This episode provides a great insight into the specific challenges of rapidly scaling a business, and shows in detail how Podio can make a huge impact. We bookend the discussion with Dan’s journey into Podio, his realisation of the power of workflow and automation, and the journey he made recently into fully automating and managing his company’s finances with Podio integrating directly to Quickbooks Online.

This is a rare “behind the scenes” look at what it takes to scale one of the top eCommerce agencies in the country. Not to be missed!

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Audio Transcription

Narrator  0:00  

Welcome to powered by Podio automation is everything. supercharge your business with Podio get ready for another episode of supercharged with Jordan Samuel Fleming your weekly dive into the awesome impact workflow and automation you can have on your business when it’s powered by Podio. Join us each week as we learn from the top Podio partners in the world as we investigate system integrations and add ons and hear from real business owners who have implemented Podio into their business. Now, join your host Jordan Samuel Fleming, CEO of game changers for this week’s episode.

Jordan Fleming  0:46  

Hey, everybody, welcome to this week’s episode of supercharged I’m your host Jordan Samuel Fleming, here to talk all about the power of workflow and automation when your business is powered by podium. Today, delighted to welcome Dan Kogan from 1Digital they are a phenomenal ecommerce and digital marketing company in the US really are a top class company that delivers an incredible service to clients all over the world. And to clients who are really a demanding ecommerce environment, you know, where results really matter. Podio has been part of their journey for a number of years. And it’s a really interesting conversation about how Dan is the CEO, tried to find a tool that would help him run his business the way he wanted to do. And of course, he he talks a bit about, you know, the journey of trying different systems out until finally settling on Podio. And I think that’s gonna resonate with a lot of people who are, are looking for the right sort of tool and haven’t quite found it yet. And then, of course, we we dive a little deeper into some of the newer things, once they’ve, you know, begun working in Podio, we start to add automation, which is when, of course, our company got involved. And, you know, not only do we start to really alleviate the day to day, data, entry, copying and management of data from their team, but in the most, you know, recent versions of some of the things we’ve been doing, we have simplified and automated an enormous part of the financial structure of the business, which has saved countless hours per day, from a management point of view, and gives completely different capabilities of being able to bill and see transparently all sorts of different financial data. So really interesting as we’re sort of getting into the conversation of how we found it, how we built it up. And then of course, how it took off when we started to add these sorts of automations and, and interactions with other systems, particularly in this episode, QuickBooks Online. So I think this is a really great episode, I love talking to Dan, we’ve been working together for years to know him really well. He’s got a fantastic business to encourage you to check it out the links in the podcast page and in the description. If you’re selling something online, they can help. And just, I think it’s gonna be a great episode, to just learn a bit about someone who’s incredibly successful businessman, and how they developed a relationship with Podio. That ultimately has been an incredibly fruitful one for them. So let’s dive right in. Alright, well, so then, um, tell me a bit. I mean, obviously, I’ve known you for a number of years. But, um, so how did you originally find Podio? Because we’ve been working together for a while. But I mean, Jesus, I don’t remember like, this is a while back. How did you find it?

Dan Kogan 3:44  

Yeah, this is a wild story. Well, wild for anybody that’s an entrepreneur trying to figure out what their best platform could be. That scales and doesn’t want to go from one to another to another. But like, I think nine years ago when I started a company, I think we started with Asana. Asana was the platform, it was pretty new back then. And it was given me the abilities that I needed. But as we started growing, and we had more and more clients and accounts, and we needed more features. I went through every software out there, I probably spent about 30 days on teamwork, 30 days on Salesforce 30 days on every platform that would give me 30 days for free to figure out what would work for for me. The problem is I had a unique situation where we really needed the client to see one thing and asked to see something else and I needed to have full control what the vendors would see versus what my sales people would say. And and none of those platforms and software’s allowed that type of integration and allowed the flexibility so At some point, I ran into Podio at probably my seventh software that I was looking into. And during this time, you just have to imagine my team. And while I’m going while we have a sauna at the same time, I’m asking my team to try another software, and then another one, and then another one, they were going ballistic, they were going insane. But I finally found Podio. And I realised I can drag and drop and sort of create things for myself the way I want it. They had the flexibility, without having to really code. It had just amazing abilities to customise to really fit what we needed. My biggest issue with Podio, in the beginning was to kind of like, geez, mind expanding, my biggest issue was like, seeing the full potential of what I could do, because there’s no walls, there’s no like guardrails, just like do what you want. It’s like a blank page yet where you don’t even have any guidance of the like, you could go over there. It’s just like, open, right? It’s kind of like when you were a kid, and somebody gave you like a 400 piece Lego set, you know, or 4000 piece Lego set, and you open up the box, and you’re excited. You see the pictures and you open up the box and all the pieces around you and it’s intimidating. You’re like, Oh shit, what the heck am I gonna do? What am I building first? Where do I go? How is it going to use? Am I gonna waste my time when I do this? So it was it was huge. It was I saw limitless potential. But then I also saw, you know, the challenge.

Jordan Fleming  6:46  

Limitless pain.

Dan Kogan 6:47  

Yeah. Yeah, exactly right. And we, I started using it, I started to invite my team members, and I just realised, wow, this is this is going to take some work and take some time. But this seems like it has the structure that I need versus coming into a software that is basically, you know, you get what you get. And that’s it.

Jordan Fleming  7:11  

And I mean, you guys, obviously, I’ll be linking to your website in the podcast page. But um, I mean, you guys at this point, how many people were there? Because you’re, you know, you’re a top top flight econ commerce company. How you, which means lots of project it means lots of things happening, deadlines, etc. How many people when you were making this transition? Did you have at this point?

Dan Kogan 7:39  

How many employees? You mean, yeah. Well, when we started, it wasn’t a lot of people. You’re talking about maybe? I guess you could probably say about maybe 20 people in the beginning, just between vendors. But there was a lot of clients. I mean, there was a lot of clients, you know, but internally as a team, maybe about 20 people were using the software.

Jordan Fleming  8:06  

But that’s still I mean that given you what you described about kind of leapfrogging from system to system and try you know, try this when I tried out that to get 20 people to jump and jump and jump and jump would be probably as you say, a very frustrating and be how did you get them to buy in when you find like, at some point it’s like cry wolf, right? Oh, yeah, that goddamn system. Right. And so how did you get them? Was it easy to get them to buy into it? Or did it take you know, what was that journey like to get them to buy into Podio

Dan Kogan 8:41  

so what I found was that people have a hard time understanding Podio a lot of people have a hard time understanding Podio when they first get in it, and they have a hard time imagining what it could be as well. So the way that I found what was successful was customising it and having it built for them. So basically building the path before they got there. So when they got on the journey, the path was there, and it was so customised. And they were like, Oh my god, this is what I’ve been waiting for, oh my god, this is what I wanted. They didn’t even know they needed it that way. And I just made it a sequential step by step per what our process at 1Digital was. So 1Digital, we have a process that we deal with for leads for contacts for clients, for internal development, for SEO, PPC and so on. And then what I would just do is lay down that path with the different apps. And when they came in, they were like wow, this is you know, I don’t have to dig around 1000 feature software that has nothing to do with me and it’s mostly for Salesforce, you know examples and this was more tailored to them so so they were buying in immediately.

Jordan Fleming  9:52  

So because you were able like that’s a great example of Salesforce but where I know when I have seen Salesforce because is one of our clients use it or whatever, when I’ve used it, I would say most people I’ve ever seen you Salesforce use a 10th of it, at most like, yeah, it’s got five, it’s made for IBM, to sell lots of shit. And, and so the small company that’s just trying to use it as a CRM, it’s got like over a kilo of stuff there, and you end up not looking at this many tabs and not using this many fields and all of that. So and that causes a different level of confusion, where they’re just like, where do I go to find the few things I need? So that’s how you manage that transition is giving them Hey, man, this is all you need. That’s it nothing extra.

Dan Kogan 10:43  

I kept a very focused very, very focused very narrow, very to the point. And that made a world of difference.

Jordan Fleming  10:53  

And you when you talk about the processes that you had, you know, so many companies talk processes, but they don’t really have like they say process, but they don’t do it would Did you have a pretty rigorously laid out process for all these things? No.

Dan Kogan 11:10  

I mean, at the time, we thought we did. years ago, we thought we did but it processes always evolve, you nip and you talk and you nip and you talk. So when we first put it all together, it was the processes we had at the time for the designer for the developer for the QA for for whatever, and it was all we knew. So we we thought it was great. Looking back, I mean, it was it was amateur, to say the least. However, as the one of the most beautiful things about Podio is, you’re not going into a system like Salesforce with IBM, where you have everything already and you don’t know what to use, you’re literally biting chunks and pieces. So you’re graduating as you go down this journey. And you’re you’re adapting the system to it, it’s sometimes it’s painful to adapt the system, because you’re introducing all these different things to the team all the time. But I find it that it’s been a much better experience than giving them this full blown out universe of a software that’s for Fortune 500 Enterprise company. That’s not what we are. We’re a small, you know, boutique e commerce agency. So for us, it made a lot of sense to build as we needed to. And as we shifted, the software shifted with us, and that’s the beautiful part about it.

Jordan Fleming  12:29  

And also, I guess, you know, your team, then can can also weigh in on things they’d like or, or problems they have. And, you know, you know, because not unlike it buying something off the shelf, where is this what it is, man? And you know, definitely, maybe they’ll make an upgrade. But until that happens, tough luck. You can listen and go, Oh, actually, I’m hearing a lot of things. What do we do to address that in a way that you can’t do anywhere else? Right?

Dan Kogan 12:58  

Yep. So one of the things that my whole team knows is that any good idea is welcome. Any change in process to make it better is welcome. And they all know the flexibility of Podio. And it’s it’s not a big cost compared to one of these other mega software’s. So one of the beautiful things about dealing with Podio is having that sort of combined team effort to make it better. And so we have, you know, out of all the people that I have now, I mean, we have 70 plus people working inside the Podio system. Not everybody contributes and sees the areas to improve, but there’s a certain select few that love it. And they just have ideas after ideas after ideas to help their processes. So it’s great, we build off of that. And that’s how we we expand the team and expand the software.

Jordan Fleming  13:56  

And, I mean, one of the big things about Podio is without question, the workflow automation that you can bring to it. Now, you guys are a really interesting case. And I know this personally, because we work together in that you had a very large and mature system, if I could say, which dealt with a lot of clients, and you weren’t yet using the automation capabilities. Now, obviously, the transition between no automation to automation was an interesting and difficult journey. You know, and and that’s a particular with a system your size. But tell me if you can think back to like, pre automation, and now where your system is going, you know where your system is now. How is that automation informed your Podio elements or or you know, hopefully improve your life as well. Yeah,

Dan Kogan 14:59  

no Good,

Jordan Fleming  15:00  

this is gonna be a really shitty podcast.

Dan Kogan 15:02  

Yeah, right. Um, we used to have to deal with a lot of manual copy and paste. We used to have to spend 10 to 15% of our time just managing data. Right now, what’s happened is that 10 to 15% of time has been saved by poti automation. So your company, your team has done a great job automating areas that we used to do manually. Where now, you know, yes, once in a while, there’s a hiccup with a delay for technology and Podio has its little, you know, support slowdown issue with an API or something like that. But still, it’s 10 times better, because you can keep a tab open and focus on something else, while the automation is happening in the background. So saving 10 to 15% of time per person with with so many users, and not having to copy and paste data is a game changer.

Jordan Fleming  16:08  

No, I mean, it’s I, I mean, I remember. And I i’ve been it’s been so fun to see your system grow. And obviously one of the big areas that you know what one thing I always like to touch on, because people want to know, where Podio can connect to. And I know that you guys, you know, we’ve connected some ello, you know, we’ve like in game changes, we’ve connected our QuickBooks Online to it. We’ve connected all that where you can connect Podio to something like that, you know, that brings us a very different, a very different capability to Podio. How is connecting your Podio into that process around, you know, without getting into too many specific details. But by being able to connect the financial elements, which we do for a lot of clients, how has that worked into your everyday your workflow as well?

Dan Kogan 17:02  

Yeah, so I used to be, I would probably consider myself and I’m not a spreadsheet x, I see King, yeah, but maybe I’d be in a top 1% of the 1% of spreadsheet kings. I took spreadsheets to another level, I would have Firefox open IV. So I usually work on Chrome, but Firefox would be open with like, eight different spreadsheets. And each one served have different function. And one of them was a master. And another one had, you know, vendors, another one had salespeople and commissions. And it was it was crazy, I learned so many different things about spreadsheets, and how to manage them that essentially spreadsheets became my 80% of what I did, besides meetings was managing spreadsheets, between spreadsheets to QuickBooks to spreadsheets to QuickBooks. Eliminating that out of my life, as painful as it was, because I was so used to that, like my muscle memory was really fast with spreadsheets. Eliminating that, and then also having an exercise of figuring out how to open up the blue sky and go into automate all of that in Podio was was was a brain exercise. That was an IQ exercise that was very, very challenging. But it worked. It worked between your team’s abilities, and you know, all the things that we found and all the nuances of the spreadsheet and all the nuances of our business, we figured out how to automate it and it saved. I don’t know, I can’t tell you how many hours a day I can now focus on other things. It’s amazing. So absolutely. Great transition great. automations I don’t deal with any spreadsheets at all anymore.

Jordan Fleming  18:58  

That makes me so happy. I mean, it was a I I would always put my hand up and say that the the trends, you know, that project was a hard one. A lot of the projects we’ve done in the past few have been hard. But you know, and and we you know, and timelines and all those things can be painful. And, and and all you know and all that. But I was so I just remember being so convinced that we could get something working for you. And and that would just be that would be great. Now, and I’m glad it is but I have one other I have a follow up question about this specifically. Because one thing I think people get really nervous about and I remember you being nervous as well as you would be as a business owner, being able to trust a system to give you the data in the right way right like that, that particularly it’s okay like hey, a task is missed. Usually that’s not the end of the world like you may be able to apologise or whatever, but when it comes to money, that is There’s a whole level of like, Whoa, you know? Yeah, everybody tightens up. How is it? Let me just let me know, understand a little bit the journey for you, in terms of feeling comfortable getting to feel comfortable that a financial situation connected the podium would be would work?

Dan Kogan 20:24  

Well rephrase that question in a different way. Because I feel like I have a lot of answers so well,

Jordan Fleming  20:31  

because a lot of people listening this podcast are people who are getting into Podio and bright. And so we’re talking about connecting a Podio system with a finance system to automate finances. And that requires you to trust that the system is going to work. And I remember you have obviously, could you were concerned about that?

Dan Kogan 20:51  

Yeah.

Dan Kogan 20:52  

Yeah. How was that journey like getting to try? Well,

Dan Kogan 20:55  

I had an issue with trusting you guys even accessing my QuickBooks account. I had to get over that and, and realise that, essentially, you guys were my software doctors. So if I had to take my shirt off in front of you, I had to do it. And I sort of learned to deal with that personal issue that i’ve i’ve conquest it so far. Because nobody else sees it, right? Besides my accountant. And then you’re right. The trust thing between having Podio and having the data go from QuickBooks Online, to Podio, and back and forth, and then making sure that things worked was huge. So what we did in our scenario is I kept my spreadsheet process, I think, for 30 or 60 days. At the same time, while we did this automation stuff, so I would literally work on two systems at the same time, just to make sure, and to wean off of the old system to see that the new systems working. And honestly, I had migraines, I had headaches, it was complicated. It was it was muscle memory that I had to reconfigure towards this new process. But in the first 30 to 60 days, I realised, I think that I had a trusting relationship. And then it took me about another couple months of just a spreadsheet sitting there in the background, just a once in a while, check them and verify. That happened probably for another three, four months, right before eventually, I think six months later, I actually closed every single spreadsheet, which is which is a blessing. So yeah, trust was was huge. It was important, but it was a step by step process.

Jordan Fleming  22:38  

Well, it’s a really, it’s a fascinating, you know, because of the you know, your the business model, you guys have him and being able to integrate that process is easier to me is so is so critical. And, and it’s been a really interesting thing to watch. Now, for people who may be I mean, you you you run a team of people, you’ve got a team of people who work, you know, you’ve got clients all over the place. When you are Do you have any sort of thoughts of the things that maybe a new person who is really thinking about integrating Podio into their business? You know, what would be your kind of best bits of advice or, or, or things that maybe I wish I’d known this, then

Dan Kogan 23:32  

it’s That’s a hard question. it because it’s hard to see what you don’t see. Right, it’s hard to see around a corner, when you’re not at that corner, or at that intersection. I would have to say, trust the flexibility of Podio go in there play around, um, implemented as a webform and see how easy it is for your website to be able to get data into Podio without even having a coder. But if you have a process, find a team, somebody that can help you automate some of it because it’ll save you time headaches, save you a lot of different things, but just try it really once you try it and open up your mind expand your mind, I don’t know have a drink before you play with it. You know, come with it. Come in it with a with an open sort of Lego feel like you can create anything you really can you really can do anything in Podio to help you so it’s pretty bad. So just be open minded. That’s the thing. Don’t look for guardrails, because there are not.

Jordan Fleming  24:40  

So you got to put your own guardrails up or or and and start small. You know, start start with start with something that can you know that as you say, start with something you can build small and have a win with right away. Yeah, I think sometimes is what I say to people is rather than try and start You know, way too big start with something that just hurts.

Dan Kogan 25:03  

Yeah. and fix it. Yep, yep, yep. Yep, just awesome. Even like I said, just put up that webform and see how it collects data and see how you don’t need a spreadsheet and see the different views and a filter. So is a great starting point.

Jordan Fleming  25:16  

And let me ask you one last question before I, I let you go, um, in terms of like you just said data. And that, to me is really interesting. I think one of the powerful things about Podio, aside from just the ability to communicate together and work together, is the ability to filter down data and see different data sets easily. How I like is that, how much do you rely? or How much do you feel constrained? Or you rely on podiums ability to filter data? Does it help you or hurt you?

Dan Kogan 25:49  

The data is amazing. You can import spreadsheets, you could export spreadsheets, once you have the data and you have endless filters. So you can filter data you can create views. The power of the data is is pretty powerful. It’s it’s really what guides us every day, we see our open tickets, open invoices, payment logs, you know, tasks, deliverables, everything within a data. And the way you can filter data is is I haven’t seen any other platform give you the ability to filter and manage data the way that Podio does.

Jordan Fleming  26:26  

I would actually 100% agree with that. Dan, thanks so much for coming on. Just Can you give us a little summary of 1Digital? Obviously, we’re gonna link to the website, but just tell everybody what you’re all about and where they can find you.

Dan Kogan 26:38  

Yep, we are the number one e commerce agency in the world. Now we’re getting there. we’re striving there. We are an e commerce agency that handles design development, digital marketing, SEO, PPC integrations for clients that have shopping carts, so anybody with a shopping cart, you have a shopping cart. We want to help you. So that’s it. That’s what we do. elevator pitch.

Jordan Fleming  27:03  

That’s perfect. Then fantastic. See again, my friend. I haven’t seen you for a little bit and thank you for coming on to the podcast.

Dan Kogan 27:12  

You got it, man. Take care.

Narrator  27:15  

You’ve been listening to supercharged with Jordan Samuel Fleming. Subscribe today on iTunes, Google Play or Spotify for your weekly dive into how you can supercharge your business by making it powered by Podio Be sure to check out our website www.wearegamechangers.com  where you can learn more and arrange a 30 minute call with Jordan to understand how Podio supercharges you