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Meet Dan. Dan Arbeau is the Founder of NetDNA. When he’s not developing innovative technology solutions for small businesses, you’ll find Dan spending time with his kids or slinging drinks at the Barley Mill Brewpub in Penticton.
Where are you from originally?
I moved down to the Okanagan from Fort St. John about 14 years ago. I was a minister then, so I came down to Penticton to start a church. I also ran a franchise of Discovery Computers and the owner lived in Summerland. He told me that I was probably going to move to Penticton and I gave him a list of reasons why that would never happen. I learned then that I should never say never because that probably means it’ll happen. It was a good move and, in my opinion, coming down here helped open my mind to new possibilities. It changed everything.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
I’m the founder of NetDNA. When I started the company, the idea was like DNA—take the building blocks of the internet and fuse ideas together. During the pandemic, I needed to let my staff go and pivot the business a few times. Now I’m building the company on four pillars: internet/networks, cybersecurity, automation and general custom apps. I’ve got time to explore and test these areas because… well, what else am I going to do? Quit and get a job?
What made you pivot the business in that direction?
Because of the pandemic, we’ve built and continue to maintain wireless and fibre optic networks for Indigenous communities throughout BC. We’ve also been creating a suite of products and services that offer proper cybersecurity—not just firewalls and antivirus programs. Many of the providers out there are quite pricey so small- to medium-sized companies can’t afford proper cybersecurity. With the connections I’ve made, NetDNA is able to offer small businesses those services at an affordable rate. Those are the customers that need our help, so being able to work with them has been really important to us. We’re hitting markets where there’s a need and there’s a need because they’re not being serviced.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
While exploring different pivots in the company, I’ve been building some pretty cool web systems and apps. You need to do customer discovery but, at the same time, you need to keep moving. There have been some interesting projects; I’ve added QR codes to toe tags to support a coroner’s outdated technology and used blockchain to solve logistics and transparency concerns for a company that hires veterans for secure transport of cannabis products. We’re trying a lot to see what sticks and can generate revenue.
Is there a way you like to give back to the community?
When I first moved to Penticton, I spent a lot of time just helping people with various tech problems. When you can give your time to people and become a part of the community, that is how you find happiness. While I was a pastor, we would go out to help the community and I was adamant that we not tell them we’re with the church. We were there because we wanted to help people, not because we wanted the credit. That mentality is what NetDNA is built on.
What advice would you give to someone interested in starting their own business?
Don’t be scared of fear. As an entrepreneur, there’s always uncertainty. You need to be able to deal with that and learn how to be calm. I thought my business would never fail because of the work we were doing but it’s been a struggle at times. And nearly 4 years later, we’re not out of the woods yet but we’re making progress. Entrepreneurs normally keep that fear to themselves because they’re scared to admit that things are not as good as they say they are. That’s how you fail. I’ve learned to be open about our troubles and that’s been an important trait to have when building our business.
When you’re not at work and when you’re not online, where are you?
I have four kids, and we will go out on walks or bike rides. I don’t ski, but I do know how to skate. Oddly enough, because cash flow was a little down during the pandemic, I started bartending. It was a way to get some quick and easy cash. I was talking with the owner of Brexit Pub and he offered me a job on Wednesday, I had my Serving It Right on Thursday and by Friday I was behind the bar. I now work Sundays at the Barley Mill because it’s a great way to get out and socialize each week.
Is there something you want to be remembered for?
I’ve always tried to help people, not just giving but investing in people. I’d rather people look at me and see that if you help people, that help comes back to you. It helps make our world a better place. If that’s what people said about me, that would make me happy. Be profitable, but help your community. Small businesses need to stick together and support one another.
I’ve learned to be open about our troubles and that’s been an important trait to have when building our business.