An Interview with Entrepreneur Emmanuel Schalit

Emmanuel Schalit has been the CEO at Dashlane since he joined the company as employee #5 back in 2011.

He created his first software company at the age of 23 and went on to pursue a PhD in Computer Science. After a few years as a software engineer & manager, Emmanuel joined global media group Vivendi Universal where he led the company’s computer gaming and publishing business. He was also the CEO of online games startup Flipside.com.

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In the following interview, Emmanuel talks about his entrepreneurial journey, the ups and downs, and the key lessons learned along the way.

When did you first discover your entrepreneurial spirit and How is your entrepreneurial career developing so far?

I have always liked building things and products, but as a kid, I wanted to be a scientist. Then I discovered that science is indeed a fascinating world, but one that moves at a slower pace than what I needed.

Dashlane is my 3rd tech startup. My first, which I started at age 23, never really took off. The second one many years later grew extremely fast to become the leader in online games during the first Internet bubble in 2000 but did not survive the explosion of the bubble. Thankfully, that did not discourage me.

Dashlane is on a trajectory to have an impact on the digital lives of millions around the world, so I’m thankful that my entrepreneurial spirit never went away.

What has been the biggest success and biggest failure stories you went through?

My biggest success is yet to come, as it will clearly be Dashlane.

My biggest failure was with my previous startup Flipside. When the first Internet bubble burst, we had to severely downsize the company and let go a number of great people which was very tough.

What motivated you to join & head Dashlane? How did it all start?

It all started with a hypothesis seven years ago… Digital Identity is about to become a mainstream consumer issue. The problem was fascinating at the time and still is to this day for three reasons:

  1. It is a Universal problem: Everyone of the 3 billion people who use the Internet every day has it
  2. It is an unsolved problem: Most people do not have any solution and even existing solutions, including Dashlane, are still far from perfect
  3. It a problem the tech giants (Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, etc.) cannot solve as identity crosses all their ecosystems

It is a rare privilege in life, if you are passionate about technology, to get to work on solving the most universal, unsolved issue with the Internet!

Tell us something about Dashlane.

Dashlane is the most passionate group of people I have ever worked with. Our shared passion for the problem we are solving, for our product, and for our users, is truly unbelievable. As we’re all united around a common goal, it allows anyone in the team to challenge anyone else (me included), and that is an extraordinary source of motivation.

What are your growth plans for the near future?

Our growth is entirely under our control. The market is so big that our only real competitor is “Do nothing,” the fact that most people do not do anything to manage their digital identity. Using the same password everywhere is a bad solution, but it is an incredibly compelling solution from a simplicity standpoint, and this is what we are competing against.

So, our growth is primarily about our ability to bring a simpler solution to our users, so that they choose to do something about their digital identity.

Looking back, what did you learn and what would you have done differently?

In hindsight, everything is obvious, and it is very easy to be right. Fortunately, that is not how life works. Life is about constant surprises and how you react to them. So, I am not sure I would do anything differently because even though I made many mistakes to be where I am personally and professionally, I am quite happy about what today and tomorrow look like.

I continuously learn, every day, from all the people I interact with, and how they always surprise me. But because the world is changing so quickly, there is a danger in relying too much on lessons from the past to decide what you are going to do in the future.

My biggest piece of advice is to not rely too much on advice from others because your situation is unique to you.

In your opinion, what are the hurdles that keep people away from starting an entrepreneurial career? What advice would you give to the new entrepreneurs?

Fear of failing is the biggest obstacle for entrepreneurs. You must be comfortable with the fact that what you are trying might fail because that comes with the notion of risk-taking.

My advice is to ask yourself the simple question: Are you ok with the idea that what you are trying might fail. Unless the answer is a definite yes, do not even start.

Are you an entrepreneur looking for your MVP built? Get in touch with us at hello@devathon.com

Devathon has built software for companies backed by the world's leading investors like Betaworks, Greylock, Andreessen Horowitz, Accel, KPCB, Lightspeed and many more.