The All In One Data Collection Platform With The CEO Of doForms, John Darienzo
With technology these days, people always want ease of use. Tasks like data collection, workflow management, or business forms are all difficult to keep track of. And when you take into account all the other services that you're using, it gets complicated. With doForms, anything is possible. It's the glue that ties everything together. It's a platform for building IOS and Android data capture solutions. To talk more about doForms are your host, Chad Burmeister and brings in the company’s CEO, John Darienzo. Learn how AI plays a role in creating these online business forms and how it will affect them in the future.
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The All In One Data Collection Platform With The CEO Of doForms, John Darienzo
I'm here with John Darienzo. He is the CEO and President of doForms. They have been around for over a decade. There are lots of forms processed all over the world with some large companies. What I love about this company is that it's simple to use. You don't need a massive IT department to create some amazing forms. You will be amazed to learn where some of these forms can be leveraged. John, welcome to the show.
Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
I'm excited to dig into some case studies and examples. Before we do that, I would like our audience to get to know who's on our show. The best way I have found to do that is to ask about where were you raised and what was your passion when you were younger? Help our audience connect to where you come from and what you love to do back in the day.
I was an Italian guy who grew up in Brooklyn. I had probably been an entrepreneur since I was in single digits. I started getting bicycles from people, refurbishing them and selling them. I learned how to do bodywork and fix cars up for people in the neighborhood. I was always making money. I was always trying to do something from that perspective. I had a father who was one of those guys who if the truck broke down on the side of the road, as long as he had electric tape and a hanger, he can get you home. I learned problem-solving from a young age watching my dad. He can fix anything. I learned how to look at a problem, break it down and figure out a way to get it solved. That's what has taken me through my entire career.
I happen to be very lucky. In my early twenties, I had gotten a job in a company called Sea-land. It was a multibillion-dollar shipping company. If you ever saw it, it had shipping containers, big ships and vessels. I was the Manager of Lands back in 1988. Nobody cared about the land in 1988. It was all VAX, mainframes and all kinds of stuff. The port had a couple of problems. I went in, I was able to solve them and save the company $4 million a month and in labor to not have to take care of something. At the same time, they had this group that had a $60 million budget and they were supposed to be responsible for automating all the shipping terminals globally.
One day, the CEO of the company knocks on my door and says, “You saved me more money in these last 2 or 3 things you did for the port than that entire team has done in the last two years.” He asked me to give him a proposal to take over the group to automate shipping terminals globally for Sea-land. I was 21.5 years old at that time. I went to him and I said, “I need a $20 million budget. I need total control over who I hire and what we purchase.” He goes, “I can't do that. You are only 21 years old.” I said, “If you don't give me that authority, I will never be successful. Nobody else is going to allow me to do the job. If you are not going to give it to me, then I reject it.” He gave me the responsibility. He gave me all the power.
By 22, by the time the project went on, I had one of the biggest budgets for IT technology in the country at the time. I was flying to Microsoft, meeting with Bill Gates, flying to Oracle and meeting with Larry Ellison. The funny story there is the other team was going DEC VAX and they were going to go with Oracle database and it was going to cost a fortune. I had gone into the city and Microsoft had acquired ReFirm for the Land manager, SQL Server from Sybase and a bunch of technology. I went to a big show they did in the city. They had hired Warner Brothers to do a cartoon of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner where he's always ordering stuff so he could kill the Road Runner.
All of a sudden, Acme had gotten Excel and they were using SQL Server and all this new technology that Microsoft was bringing out to help corporations run. He orders these rockets shoes and he gets them two days earlier because of Microsoft. He winds up going through this tunnel and kills the Road Runner. At the end of it, he's got the Road Runner with his neck broken in his hand. He stands up and he goes, “Thank you, Microsoft.” I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. I took my $20 million budget and I built the first mission-critical Microsoft business platform in the country. It’s quite an interesting thing.
Don't look at your age. Look at your ability.
At 21.5 to 22 years old, you took on some big responsibility. How did you know you were ready to seize the moment there? A lot of people might look at that and say, “You are right, I'm young. Let me wait another twenty years?” Why wait? What advice would you give?
I don't look at age. I look at ability. I hire a lot of young people that work for me. I find that if you are smart and can do something, you can do it at twenty. If you are dumb, you can't do it at 40. It's more a matter of not being afraid. The biggest thing is I asked, “Why?” I went to that shipping port and I was like, “Where's the problem?” They are like, “We need this piece of paper every day.” I'm like, “Why? What does it do? Explain it to me.” By the time I was done, I was like, “Why don't we do it this way?” People started to listen. We were quickly able to show them what that meant. Once you can show people and you gain their confidence, it's easy to keep going. Youth is more about being able to prove yourself. Nobody gives you that out of the box when you are young. Everybody expects you to fail. Once you can show, “I can do this,” then it's amazing the things you can accomplish with those people’s support.
Meeting with Larry and Microsoft, what happened since then to get into the forms business? Tell us a little bit about what's going on in the use of mobile forms.
The interesting thing about the Sea-Land project is I automated this 600-acre shipping facility by probably building one of the first Wi-Fi infrastructures in the country. I had used the spread spectrum at that point and it was 908 to 928 frequency. I put up six cell towers in the port. I took a tablet computer, the first one ever created, and I hooked up a printer gateway to it that somebody had shown me and turns it into a wireless radio. It’s a wireless infrastructure inside the Sea-Land shipping port. They were able to walk around with these tablets and collect data wirelessly.
I left Sea-Land and started a company in the ‘90s to work specifically on wireless data collection. At that point, it was hard. Batteries were dying in 30 minutes and devices were $4,000 and the coverage wasn't what it is now with all the wireless antennas and points everywhere. I was probably one of the few people that were good at it. I did all of the Airborne Express, DHL pickup and delivery systems. I did Purolator Express in Canada. That was the first implementation of GPRS in North America. I had those towers in my office before T-Mobile and AT&T had them in this country.
That's a good story because I worked for Airborne. U-Haul was one of my biggest customers. We signed a $12,000 a month shipping deal. The CFO, the SVP of Sales flew out, we had the whole team in Arizona in the hot 110-degree summer weather. We ended up doing a deal through Purolator for similar, it was the international Canadian side of that business and it was 4,000 shipments a month. I'm sure that the packages I sold back in those days were tracked by the work that you did, which is quite a small world we live in.
It's interesting because that's what led me to where we are now and how we sell doForms products. I have always believed in partnering. When you are in wireless data collection, the people that sell wireless communication are going to be people you would partner with. BellSouth had brought me into that Airborne deal. I had shown them a bunch of stuff and proven I could do a bunch of stuff. They had tried to sell RIM pagers to Airborne, a regular standard email pager. They were trying to convince them that that they should email people, “You have to go do this pickup.”
I had this little dispatch system that I had built on those RIM pagers that I had sold to UPS to run their whole field service application. The vice president of sales for BellSouth knew about it. When Airborne said, “We like the devices but this email is not going to work for running our pickup and delivery business.” They said, “We've got an idea. We've got this little company that has this dispatch infrastructure.” We went out there and we did a pilot with Airborne. About a month later, I’ve got a call from their CIO who summoned me out to meet with them and he says, “I want to make sure that this is a real company.” He gave us a contract to deploy all of Airborne.
It was interesting because we did it on a RIM pager and we did it on the Gulf South Network and then at the last minute, he goes, “By the way, we are moving to a Motorola device on the pSOS operating system where we are going to use Nextel iDEN Network.” I was like, “That's a nice little thirteenth-hour twist.” We pulled it off. We were able to deliver. I remember in those days, Motorola delivered us a circuit board with a keyboard, screen and a battery hanging. It wasn't even a full unit. Nextel gave us a tower and we put it in our building. We had our iDEN Network internally. We set to work and we built that system Airborne.
Those days have probably changed a little bit since then. No more keyboard hanging off of the apparatus.
What defines doForms now is back then, if you tried to build for a mobile device, it was a one-off. If you’ve got a device from the early NORAMs companies, the devices were unique. They had their SDKs and APIs. If you built it to support one device, it wouldn't run on another device. Everything you built, you had to build over and over. We were doing a lot of customization one-off projects. What iOS and Android have done is isolated us from that. Now, if you ask any iOS or Android device for a GPS location, you get it. If you ask them to start the camera, it starts.
We don't have to worry about what version of a device you are on, what vendor sold it or what part of the world you are in. As long as you are using iOS or Android, you can go into doForms and say, “I want a GPS reading.” The operating system gives it to us and it puts it into the form for you. That allowed us to focus more on business functionality than technology. We said, “What are all the tools that business people needed over the last two decades that have been working in this technology?”
We made cool little widgets so that people didn't have to do crazy stuff. If you want to do an inspection, you can bring in our questionnaire widget, you put a question in there and then you give it the answers. In about three seconds, you've got this questionnaire structure with good or bad. You can go down the line. People are using math to build truck inspection systems. It became easy to do. It allowed everybody to take one of these cool devices out of the box and start automating their business with it.
The follow-on question to the future of mobile is, how can companies expand their sales teams into other companies almost signing up like a reseller channel or maybe OEM-ing it into other types of products? Tell me more about what that can do.
The thing I learned early is if you build something that helps other people sell their product, they want to help you. There are a lot of companies out there that have tremendously huge sales forces that are knocking on every door, let's say, in America. If you can put something in their hands that helps them make their job easier, they are going to take you along for the ride so to speak. That's what doForms is. If you are a carrier rep and you are trying to convince a plumber who has 50 cell phones already and he's got 50 employees that drive around in vans all day, what are you going to do?
You’ve got to try to sell him a tablet because he's already bought the phone. You go to them and you say, “You need this tablet.” They are going to say, “For what?” What doForms has become is the what. The guy can turn around and say, “Give me that paperwork order that you are filling out, I will come back and I will show you that running on a tablet. It will be able to take credit cards and you will be able to scan things out of your vehicle for inventory, print receipts and all the cool things that you need to automate your business. I will show you how to do that quickly.” That's what we have done. We have created a model.
If you build something that helps other people sell their product, they will very much want to help you.
With doForms, we can build those solutions in less than a day in most cases. We built a team of people that all they do is support our partner’s salespeople. Those salespeople go out and they say, “I'm responsible for selling this piece of hardware. I'm responsible for selling this data plant.” They all need a reason for that person to buy that thing. Nobody buys a handheld scanner unless they have an application that you can scan with it. People don't just buy technology, they need solutions. We have become the solution glue that ties together.
If you can get a doForms solution into somebody's hands, they need a piece of technology, a piece of hardware, a data plan, an MDM, a credit card payment partner. All of those things together become the glue. All we have done is build a team of people and we don't compete against our partners. We don't compete like you bring a deal and we try to do it internally. We don't even have a sales organization. We have a team of people that supports partner deals. They bring it in and 24 hours, we turn it around. We do the sales call with the partner over Zoom. We allow the customer to try it.
Probably the second thing that has been our greatest success is we create what we call the internal champion. The sales rep goes out, they identify a person and a company and that personally identifies a problem. They are not sure how to solve it. We show that person how to solve it affordably and riskless. We give it to them, they put it in their hands, and then they run around the company going, “I'm going to bring this technology in. I'm going to save this company a fortune.” Before you know it, we are not doing anything. That internal champion works for us and they are selling the system internally.
With all these endpoints and big data, there's some level of AI that's used on the back end. Have you seen any interesting deployments leveraging AI in these things?
What's interesting is people are starting to realize that you can collect data for a lot of things that maybe you aren't even thinking about. I did a system for a company that sold wine and liquor. They realized that they could go into the stores, they were going in there anyway, to merchandise it and fill the product on the shelf. They started having those people do things like, “Who owns the window glass? Whose signage is up on the glass? Who's got the refrigerator space? Who's getting the corner end caps?”
I did a big system one time with a big food manufacturer and they wanted to know that, too, “Who's getting the best premium spots in the shopping stores, the front store, the end caps, the eye-level shelves in the aisles?” When you start to do that and you start to look at being able to collect all that information, you start to be able to give your people better information on how they can go back in and work with the owners of those facilities to fight for that better real estate. For us, it's all about how do you take that collected data from somebody whose job it was not even to collect that data but they are there anyway and then start to use them almost as collection bots so to speak. That's one example of being able to expand somebody's job into something that then becomes something bigger.
Where is it headed, the future of business forms and the future of AI-related forms? Tell us a little bit about what that looks like in the future.
With doForms, you can almost see where AI is starting to come in. We released a new version that forms can geo-fence themselves. When you dispatch a form to somebody, the form can detect when it arrives at that location, it can detect when it left and I can tell you how long they were there. If you have a team of people merchandising, you don't have a vision of what they are doing. If you are dependent on them giving you an electronic timesheet, they can fudge that and there are a lot of inaccuracies in there. Now the forms are doing it for you. They are saying, “I’ve got there at 1:00 and I left at 3:00. I was there for two hours.” That's allowing us to do things like, “If you were supposed to be there at 1:00 and you’ve got there at 1:30, now I can do an exception report because I know when you were supposed to be there and I know accurately when you’ve got there.”
I started in the business in what I call executive information systems. People now try to give people too much information. You don't need to know about the 900 things that went right. You need to know about the two that went wrong. We are trying to use AI to flush out what things went wrong during the day. What should you be focusing on as a manager? The biggest problem that forms can create is too much information. If you have everything coming in digitally and you can have a form for everything, you are going to get information overload.
If you look at systems now, a lot of companies have a GPS tracking system and then they have a dispatching system. Although systems don't talk to each other in most cases. The GPS knows that you’ve got there at 10:00. The dispatching system knows you are supposed to be there at 10:00 but because they don't talk to each other, there's nothing that tells you the guy got there when he was supposed to be there.
With doForms, we try to put all the intelligence in place to say, “If you are dispatching somebody to be there at 10:00 and the form knows when it got there, then the form could let you know if the guy got there late.” We then can run a report that says, “Here are the three people that didn't arrive on time to their job.” That's where AI is starting to come in. A lot of the things we were dependent on for human beings are going away.
We did a big system for travel reimbursement where companies don't want to trust GPS anymore because you could drive around in circles for half an hour and then go to the company and go, “Pay me $0.57 a mile for that.” We did a whole thing where our form could call Google and say, “What's the driving distance between these two points?” It's calculating your travel reimbursement automatically for you. When you start to incorporate that into sales and things of that nature, it is giving the companies an accurate picture of what their salespeople are doing.
I worked on a big system for a multibillion-dollar company that is going to use doForms to make sure that their stores are operating effectively. They send teams of people into the stores to make sure that the displays are functional and that the people are trained correctly and things of that nature. That all has to be documented and that all has to be raised to management. We are building that system for them to help facilitate the selling of their products through a full chain of nationwide stores.
I’ve got to believe the mileage case study that you shared with me. I remember when I moved on from Airborne Express to FedEx, they implemented a tracking system for the salespeople. When you went out and you did your calls and hours, we had a goal of 4 calls and 3 hours a day of meeting with people. When we merged with another company, we moved that up to 6 calls and 4 hours a day. Reps would go in and they would take the business card of the person in the lobby and then they leave. They would collect their six cards by 10:00 AM and then they would go surfing the rest of the afternoon in California. Over time, they said, “We need to see that you are geocoded in the lobby of that location.” It seems to me that coupling these things like, “Did I pay them the right amount of mileage reimbursement? Where are they actually on the sales call? They said they were that they logged through their CRM?” It’s an interesting technology deployment.
When you look at the documentation, and then you look at the documentation with increasing integrity, it becomes even more valuable. What doForms is doing is providing and increasing integrity. You can take a document, take a picture, take a GPS stamp of where that document was filled out, and time it. You can scan a barcode that may only be a barcode at the building when you get there. You can scan a badge and read it in NFC tags. There are seventeen ways you can prove that somebody was where they were supposed to be for as long as they were supposed to be there.
The interesting thing about what doForms does is, and this is where the complexity comes out of building something like doForms, you've got all these companies to give you APIs. Google is great. They've got 1 million APIs. You can write a whole program to get geo-fences to do all of these, “Get me my mileage.” Every time somebody wants to do that, they need a developer. It takes a couple of days, weeks and months to go through all these companies’ APIs. If you want to use Square for payment, you’ve got to use their APIs. If you want to use Shippo for printing shipping labels, you’ve got to use their APIs.
You don't need to know about the 900 things that worked. You need to know about the two that went wrong.
What doForms did is we said, “What if we did all the work against the APIs?” If you want to collect a payment, you have a payment widget that you drag into your form and you put a big button that says, “Collect credit card.” It launches the Square system, it lets you take the credit card, it passes data to them and it lets you pass data back to the form. Instead of, let's say, a two-month Square integration, it would take a company about twenty minutes to collect credit cards through a form. They don't even have to have a developer. They say, “I want to scan credit cards,” and they bring that widget in.
What we have done is we have gone out and we have done the heavy lifting against all of these APIs and then pull them all together in this one tool so that the average person thinks in terms of, “I want to collect a credit card.” They don't think in terms of, “What's the API? How do I program for that? How do I get certified by that company? Did I do it correctly?” We did all that work. That's another way that we have been able to sell.
Let's say we have a printing company. We will go to them and say, “Your market share is based on people who can program to use your printer. What if we can double the marketplace for you?” They are like, “What do you mean?” I'm like, “What if anybody that uses doForms can use your printer now and build a print job in 1.5 minutes?” They are like, “Show us.” We are like, “Click the print widget and say what you want in column one, row one and what you want in column two, row 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Hit a button and the label prints out.” They are like, “Get out of here.” Now, they are interested.
We are working with this multibillion-dollar company and they want to release a product around doForms that makes it easy for people to use their printers without having to develop. By doing that, we can expand the available marketplace for these major companies. Let's say there are 100 developers but there are 1,000 secretaries. If 1,000 secretaries now can print a label as well, would you do that the size of your market?
It sounds like there are many use cases for forms. If someone wants to get ahold of you, John, what would be the best way to reach out or visit your website?
Go to the doForms website, it's DoForms.com. We will build you a form. The way we work is you call us up and go, “I would like to see a form, would it work? Can I send you a piece of paper?” “Yes, give us a piece of paper.” Twenty-four hours later, we send you back a form, you play with it and give us some feedback. We can make changes quickly. A lot of times, we do it over the phone if we are talking to you. If you like it, you buy it. It's 100% risk-free. You don't have to pay a thing. You get 30 days to try it. We build you the first one for free. There's no money out. Your biggest exposure is spending a little bit of time with us, maybe half an hour, to go through any calculations.
We can incorporate all your data. If you want to give us data, we will incorporate it into your trial form, things like your product sheets, product pricing and things like that if we are building an invoice. We don't give you a mock-up of something that pretends to be what you are looking for. You could take that piece of paper you have, rip it up. Hand the guy a phone with this form on it now and they can start using it on the free trial. It's not only a replacement of what you have but it's a ten times better replacement because it can do all the calculations for you. It could take pictures. There's so much we can embellish. A standard business practice, we can embellish it with so much technology now.
The price is right at $10 to $20 a month or less than that if you pay upfront. This is extremely scalable. It sounds like there's not a lot of alternatives when it comes to this level of ease of use and deployment in under 24 hours.
I challenge my customers to consider me to be a cost. If you can’t pay $10 a month of inefficiency out of your company, then you are a unicorn. Even the largest companies in the world are using doForms. We have this land and expand model because what's happening now is these large companies are using it and people are starting to take notice internally. They are like, “How did Joe do that for $10 in a day?” People are starting to look at where they could use doForms.
I remember, we did a project for a company that had a lot of products in on pallets. They were all automated in their warehouse and they said, “Where can we use doForms?” We said, “Tell us a problem.” They said, “We get all these damaged pallets in and we throw them in the corner. Maybe we could sell some of the stuff in the store.” In about twenty minutes, we created a form that let them document the damaged pallet and sent an email requesting a refund to the vendor that sent it. In the first month, they collected $26,000 in damaged product refunds. Ten minutes later, they called us up and said, “We now have a team of people dedicated to the work and we use doForms in our company to save money.” Even scarier is the CIO and CEO invested in doForms right after.
Huge leverage, huge value and amazing conversation. Thanks for reading. John Darienzo is the Founder and CEO of doForms. DoForms.com, check it out. John, thanks for joining.
Tell your people to make a business out of it. We have a lot of people that are building forms and selling them to businesses. If you understand how to solve a problem for a business, you can take doForms, build out an entire solution and then offer it for sale. We have people doing that across multiple industries now making a lot of money. Recurring revenue is the best money to make.
$1 a form or $5 a form for that matter.
It's not only customers, think about it as a business opportunity to get into it. We will be more than happy to support you and get you going.
John, thank you for joining. We will catch you on the next episode.