Hi, Could you introduce yourself?
Hi! I am Danielle Simpson.
What are you working on?
I am a musician, maker, entrepreneur, and mentor, so I am currently working on a variety of projects. At the forefront these days is my second software as a service business which will be launching later this year.
What are the challenges and successes you’ve faced in your career?
The biggest challenges I have had lead me to my biggest successes. When I am singing, the challenge is to become a master of the mind and body. Every thought that you engage with can affect the technique and colour the sound. You must be extremely aware and disciplined. It is a thrilling ride. The success I have had with singing allowed me to move from Canada and begin my performing career in Germany.
Starting a software company was a completely new challenge. I had so much to learn and I was keen to dive into this completely new environment. For 2 years it felt like I was playing at double speed with no opportunity to look back. This pace lead the company to the success of reaching 55K monthly recurring revenue in its second year and ultimately to selling it for a life-changing amount of money.
How did you scale your startup from nothing to getting acquired?
Well, there are many intricacies to this answer, so much that my partner wrote a book on how we did this, but I will try to hit the highlights that contributed to a large part of the success of the business.
We had a clearly outlined audience and a well-defined problem that we wanted to solve. This allowed us to focus on building a solution and product that would work for the community we wanted to serve. We had an in-depth understanding of the audience and their needs before building a product so when we went to market, the product was easy to understand and highly desirable to many in our niche audience.
This then allowed us to focus early on building systems for many of the more laborious processes like customer education and sales. We optimized SOPs (Standard operating procedures) so well that we were able to scale the company with just 2 employees which also made it very attractive to buyers.
If you would like the full story on how we did this and a manual on how to do it yourself, I would suggest grabbing a copy of Zero to Sold!
What are your goals?
I am quite contrary to many other high achievers in the fact that I am not motivated by goals. More than anything, I am driven by curiosity. I am constantly assessing my present and noticing if I am interested, still curious, and still driven. I change course and re-adjust as I see fit. I suppose my ultimate goal is to soak up every minute. Not that every minute needs to be bliss, but to be present in each moment and feel it fully brings me a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction.
Do you have a mentor?
I do not have a mentor per se, but I do surround myself with and take inspiration from several inspiring multi-faceted women. It has been said that you are the average of the 5 people you spend your time with, and aside from my partner Arvid, who is also a brilliant engineer and entrepreneur, my friends are also an inspiring mix of entrepreneurs and artists.
Do you mentor anyone?
Yes, I do. I enjoy it so much and find myself learning a lot about myself through the questions that my mentees ask. It is such a privilege to have mentees who ask compelling questions that force you to reflect on how you have handled a situation in the past or how you would navigate a potential scenario. Some of my mentees are twice my age, some are working on completely different business models than SaaS, and to me, this is a strong reminder that there are many universal truths that can be applied to different situations. It also shows me that no matter what age we are or stage of our career we are in, we always have something to teach and something to learn.
What could society do to better foster female talent?
There are many levels and multiple ways to foster female talents, but I will speak to 2 that stand out to me at this time.The first is on an individual level. We need to stop unfairly categorizing people based on the one thing you know about them. As human beings, we often pre-judge and un-justly categorize people. Our brain wants to find patterns and relationships between factors that often lead to over-generalized and limiting judgements. We must continuously remove the boxes that we put people in based on gender, race, profession, beauty, wealth, accent etc. and embrace the complexity of each individual and their unique composition of attributes and experiences. Looking inward we must also actively resist the need to define ourselves by external, limiting factors that only tell one part of our story. The second is on a more public level. It is hard for people to become what they can’t see. I would like to encourage all women to speak up and step into the light when they have the opportunity. This will help show the next up-and-comings what is possible. You may be the person that that young person needed to see to be able to envision themselves doing what you are doing or getting to that next level.
No action is too small to inspire. This is not a zero-sum game. We rise together.
What advice would you give to people getting into your field?
My advice applies to everyone seeking their own path and stems from my constant struggle to balance others' expectations vs. acting on what I think is right. My advice is: Speak up and be true to yourself. You only have control over your own attitude and your own actions so don’t give that power away to anyone else. Trust in yourself. Establish a practice of getting still and clearing away all of the noise from external sources. Get familiar with the directions that are coming from within you.
Also, because I believe that the best actions come from a place of confidence and empowerment, I want you to know that the world needs your voice, your talents, and your skills in the unique combination that you possess.
What’s the best and worst advice you have received?
Any advice out of context is usually the worst. If you are giving advice, you can establish context by sharing where the advice is coming from and why it was valid for your situation. If you are receiving advice, you may have to ask these questions or establish the answers to why it worked for the person advising you. Only after that can you determine if the advice applies to your current situation.
The best advice I have ever received was more of an encouragement than advice. Sometimes people don’t need someone to instruct them but rather just to believe in them. Giving someone the support they need and trust that they can execute is sometimes far better than telling them what they should do.
What’s the best way to keep up to date with what you’re doing?
You can find me via my personal website https://simpsondanielle.com/ where I post links to interviews and podcasts that I have been a part of. It is also where I keep my calendly schedule for incoming mentees. You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram under the same handle - @simpsondanik
Main picture credit:Danielle by Chris Marxen- Headshots Berlin