After graduating from Stellenbosch University in South Africa with degrees in applied mathematics and computer science, Dan completed a PGCE to become a Maths teacher. Following his move to the UK, he switched career paths and joined Telefónica as Head of BE Wholesale; later becoming Head of Partners and Strategy at O2 UK. It was there that Dan led a 500% increase in revenue within two years, with a further increase of 700% in 2.5 years, and 1000% in 3.5 years.
Off the back of these successes, he went on to found Pangea Connected, a Global IoT Solutions provider in 2014 alongside O2’s previous Operations Manager, Chris Romeika.
Since then, Dan has built a team with significant telecoms experience and expertise, from senior positions within mobile network operators, to fully qualified network engineers—and as a business, they consistently outperform their own growth predictions year on year.
Outside of Pangea, Dan has a real love for both following and playing sports—especially rugby, cricket, and the odd round of golf.
How did you become involved in the Smart Buildings industry?
Pangea is a global IoT ecosystem provider, and smart buildings are a sector within that space.
In truth, anything with the word smart in front of it means IoT. But we’ve been fortunate enough to work closely with this industry through our smart buildings solution. It’s like a FitBit for buildings: it measures electric, gas, and even water usage on a per desk, room, or building basis.
What excites you about the Smart Buildings industry?
We’ve all got a responsibility to understand and improve the way buildings are run. We don’t have infinite resources on the planet. So being able to use IoT and smart building tech to achieve that is really exciting.
Not to mention — it’s just plain cool. Who wouldn’t want intelligent buildings that respond to their inhabitants’ needs? Up until this point, they’ve always just been bricks and mortar; we’ve now got the tech to change that, and that’s incredible.
Are there any particular technologies that we should be aware of, but are currently under the radar?
Air quality sensors don’t get as much attention as they should. They can improve worker safety by measuring toxins and pollutants in the air, alerting building managers if there’s any risk to employee health. And they can potentially be used to improve focus, through monitoring oxygen levels—if there’s a lack of oxygen in one corner of a room or building, it could cause drops in productivity (or even prompt naps on the job!).
Also, keep an eye out for interoperability tech. One of the big challenges in IoT is getting all kinds of different devices to talk to each other. There are platforms in the works that can work as ‘translators’ between devices, allowing us to blend their ecosystems.
What services does your company offer?
With 1.5 trillion ‘things’ waiting to be connected, and an estimated value of $14.4 trillion, more businesses than ever are adopting IoT solutions. And innovative solutions need intelligent connectivity, best-in-class devices, and actionable analytics.
That’s where Pangea comes in. We’re IoT connectivity and solution specialists, with an ecosystem built to help our partners succeed. From LPWAN and Narrowband-IoT, to Multi-network cellular and automatic failover through broadband outages, we’re all about bringing you custom, intelligent connectivity that enables your smart solutions.
Particularly for the smart building market, the IoT ecosystem creates both proof-of-concept and full solutions; like our smart buildings solution I mentioned earlier.
Are people aware of the regulations that they will need to comply with in the near future?
Not nearly as much as they should be! While regulations are made publicly available, typically people have to bump their heads before they appreciate them. This can range from having to scramble to meet regulation deadlines, to being hit with fines after the fact.
So staying up-to-date and preparing for regulations through industry press, events, and peer conversations is crucial.
What are the benefits of a smart building?
That’s a big question, and there’s plenty of answers depending on what solutions you’re running.
Environmental awareness comes to mind first; with the pressure on businesses to reduce emissions and resource consumption, building operators need smart building tech to stay in control of resources and go green.
Cost-control is definitely a big one — once you’re able to visualise data like your utility usage, you can figure out what’s causing bill spikes and how to cut down on energy spend.
And you can’t take the feel-good factor for granted. Imagine having a building that adjusts itself to employees’ temperature preferences, sets up its own emissions-reduction goals, or alerts operators to maintenance issues before they happen—all of these are great examples of tech that’ll improve staff efficiency and morale.
Who has been the biggest influence in your career?
There are plenty of entrepreneurs that I look up to, who’ve inspired me to cultivate ideas or given great advice.
But when you’re growing up in a single-parent home, you (and your parent) need several support structures. And in that regard, my extended family has been invaluable. Being pushed to work hard, to go to university, to cultivate ideas: these are the things that have helped my career reach this point. Not to mention, they’ve given me a competitive spirit that really helps when it comes to tech innovation!
What is the question you are most often asked in your business life?
‘Can I get a static IP on that?’ Ha, connectivity humour!
But in truth—it’s ‘wouldn’t it be cool if…’, followed by an interesting idea where you connect something that drives a return on investment.
Most recently, someone suggested we connect skiers to their skis, so they won’t lose them at the après bar—which happens more than you’d think!
What are the best/worst things about your job?
People are easily the best part of my job. We’re a team of creators and tech lovers who believe things work better connected—it’s incredibly gratifying when our collective effort results in solutions that prove it.
As for the worst—it’s finding the time to tackle my own to-do list. With so many exciting projects on the go, it can be a challenge to set time aside, sit down, and work through my personal admin tasks that have built up!
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
Choose your suppliers wisely. Because you need people—not only to buy from, but to back you when it really matters.
In the same vein, don’t try and go it alone. Find someone or a team that you work well with, combine your strengths, and cover each other’s weaknesses. Not only is this a key ingredient for success—it’s a lot more fun.
What living person do you admire and why?
Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, the co-founders of Snapchat. Those guys are legends.
As the story goes, Facebook offered to buy them for £3bn in 2012, and they turned it down, knowing they’d created something special. Then Google offered £30bn to buy them in 2017, and they turned that down too.
They’ve shown such tenacity under huge pressure from industry giants trying to acquire them. Even through Facebook copying everything they did to try and squeeze them out of the market, sticking to their guns and innovating all the while.
Though they dipped in 2019, their stock is now back on the climb—best of luck to them!
Where would you most like to live?
In a perfect world, I’d split my time across the year: Six months back in my homeland of South Africa, four months here in the UK… and two months soaking up the sun in southern France. Maybe Antibes!
What is your favourite book?
The Shadow World by Andrew Feinstein. It’s a glimpse into the dark dealings and secret politics of the global arms trade—incredibly interesting and quite the eye-opener.
It’s a heavy read; but one I’d recommend to everyone.
How do you relax?
One word—sleep. Can’t beat it!
What sports team do you support?
In all things football: Glory, glory Man United!
But as a former rugby player, the team closest to my heart is the Springboks. And it’s a very good time to be a fan!
What is your desert island disk?
Ibiza Sunset Classics. There’s nothing better to chill out to!
What is your ideal holiday?
For winter, it’s got to be skiing down the slopes of St. Anton.
And for summer: partying it up in Ibiza!