On Wednesday February 13, OLC attended The Electric Locomotive’s interview with Founder & CEO of SumAll, Dane Atkinson. The event was hosted by Wakefield at The Kraine Theater.
Guy Cimbalo, Editor of Wakefield, sat down with SumAll CEO Dane Atkinson, to discuss Atkinson’s rise and fall (and rise again) in his conquest of the technology start up field. The interview began with a brief discussion on what SumAll actually is.
SumAll is an ecommerce analytics tool that provides companies with their own data. SumAll allows companies to track data, and then integrate it into their marketing plans. Atkinson went on to discuss how SumAll is currently being used to shed light on the issue of human trafficking. Through the SumAll Foundation, the company is tracking data on human trafficking, and returning it to clients who may use the data. When asked how this idea came about, Atkinson shared his business philosophy: “Good aspirations are booked into the company.” The employees at SumAll decided to give 10 percent of their equity to the nonprofit.
Cimbalo then segued into Atkinson’s professional career. At 18, Atkinson monopolized all the phone lines on the Upper West Side. He was a member of an exclusive hacking community here in New York. As the internet age dawned, Atkinson “rode a rising tide” to great acclaim. He built the first websites for Pfizer and many other high-profile customers.
“There was so much momentum behind it, you had to succeed,” he explained, when asked how he profited so quickly from the rise of the internet landscape. He started SenseNet Inc and, in a more brash course of action, Atkinson then opened two Manhattan bars, one Manhattan nightclub and a bar called Fix, in Williamsburg.
However, things didn’t go completely as planned for Atkinson. His company was sued several times and then impacted further by the events of September 11th. Bars and nightclubs began to perform poorly. So Atkinson decided to “hit the restart button.” He went on a mental holiday of sorts for about a year. It was then he decided to get back into the business. However, it wasn’t easy. “There is a personal momentum to this business,” Atkinson explained. “You shouldn’t pause.” He had lost his confidence and continued to struggle. After three or four years, he made a complete return.
Atkinson went on to become the CEO of SquareSpace and founder of SumAll.
His best piece of advice to those looking to pursue a start-up company? “Just go do it.” Atkinson says. "It will be your best teacher."