Signagelive appoints General Manager Dan Hagen to drive US expansion


“I know for a fact that Signagelive is a top five CMS globally.”

An emerging market for Signagelive, the Americas presents an exciting opportunity for further growth and development. For further expansion.

With a highly motivated team in place, the company has already made gains, but now, under the leadership of new General Manager, Dan Hagen, Signagelive is set to build on its progress and boost its growth trajectory. We catch up with industry veteran and trail-blazer, Dan, to find out more about his new role, and how he intends to position the business and grow its market share in the region.

1/ Tell us a little about your background and experience in the digital signage sector?

 I’ve been involved with digital signage opportunities since 1996. A client at a business I was working at had an idea, and you know, it always starts in that fashion… 

 I always equate it with Michael Keaton’s character in the movie, Night Shift

In the movie, the character, played by Henry Winkler was a mortician, and his best friend was a character played by Michael Keaton, who had a typical ‘80s UK-look – black jacket, Chuck T shoes, you know, Levi jeans with a T-shirt or something underneath.  He always had an idea – and a Walkman to record it on.

He was like ‘I got an idea.’ And speaking into his Walkman would say something like ‘4.30pm, feed mayonnaise to tuna’.

It was that kind of a movie – light-hearted and fun.

So, my client also had an idea. He basically just came out and said, ‘We’re going to create an enterprise-class software for displaying content on displays’.

And I’m like, hmm, that’s kind of interesting…

So, through the company I was working for, we helped fund this initiative, which eventually became Mercury Online Solutions. It became the largest digital signage company on the planet – the largest because it had the largest recurring annual revenue.

I’ve been involved within the digital signage space since 1996. I’ve had consultant roles, owned my own business, which was global, and followed the Olympics around a little bit. 

And then with the help of a very nice family in Vancouver, Bill and Trevor Natal, ultimately landed in a very small basement start-up company they owned called 10Net Managed Solutions.

 I gave myself the freedom at that time – and the luxury – to reach out to industry friends that I just haven’t spoken to primarily due to COVID. And, I crossed a wide spectrum from distributor friends to reseller friends, to competitors, to 10Net friends, to, you know, all the content management system companies, and founders and, PR people that have worked with these companies for years.

I reached out to Jason (CEO of Signagelive) and I just said, ‘Hey, Jason, we haven’t chatted for at least two years since I saw you at DSE. It’d be great to say hello when you have time’. 

And he’s like, ‘Huh’. And I gave a little background. He’s like, ‘It’s pretty good timing for you to say hello’.

And, I’m like, ‘Oh really? Why is that?’ And he’s like, ‘Well, we need some channel partner help in the USA. And I was wondering if we could have a chat about that’. 

So, we had a couple of conversations and the role kind of grew a little bit from that. We discussed my past experiences, then maybe what I could bring to the Americas’ market from a competitive channel development standpoint.

2/ What excites you about the prospect of working with Signagelive?

Working with IP again, candidly. That’s what I’m most excited about – that we have IP with Signagelive. So, it’s very, very exciting to be here. And I’m very humbled to have the opportunity to lead this team (in the Americas). 

And, I’m just overjoyed with how receptive everybody’s been so far to me, because, clearly, they don’t know me well enough yet!

“These are things that are absolutely critically important – that integrity and transparency and ease of use.”

3/ So, what ultimately made you decide to join the team at Signagelive?

 Well from the handful of demos that I’ve seen over the years, I’ve always been impressed with Signagelive. 

 Honestly, in the past, Jason and I did have some conversations about if it made sense for where I was working at 10Net to use Signagelive as a platform. But we were very, very entrenched with how we did our managed services and to change that on our backend would be onerous and expensive from a resource perspective. And we were a small team as well. 

I know for a fact that Signagelive is a top five CMS globally. I know Signagelive is a global player. I know Signagelive has teams across the planet.

I know there’s 20 plus years of development. I also know how easy it is to work with the team first and foremost at Signagelive, and how dedicated they are to the channel.  

These are things that are absolutely critically important – that integrity and transparency and ease of use. 

It really goes back to the culture I believe that Jason set up from the very beginning. It’s how he treats his people, how he treats the resellers, how he works with distributors. 

It’s very inspiring for me to see. He really is as good a human as I thought he was when he talks to everybody else in the company. Until I’m proven wrong, I’m going to say that.

And that was honestly my most important criteria because, you know, I didn’t know if I wanted to stay in the space any longer. I was like, okay, I’ve done a long time in and around the audio-visual technical space. And I’m like, you know, you’re better just to go work for the forest service for a while! Like, I don’t know, like something completely different. 

However, it was probably one of the quickest hires ever at Signagelive. From start to finish, I think it was less than three weeks and that’s astronomically fast and the conversations were wonderful with the team.

I’m going to say this again. I’m very grateful and very humbled for this role, especially because there’s a lot of pressure on it. It is a profitable business unit, make no mistake, but the growth and trajectory of what content management systems and digital signage have done in north America specifically have not kept pace with where Signagelive should have kept up.

“I intend to bring a little bit of confidence into the Americas market, and a great deal of experience in the background.”

I intend to change that. I intend to bring a little bit of confidence into the Americas market, and a great deal of experience in the background. I’m really eager to be a bit bolder, and proudly say we are supercharged or super-power digital signage, and here’s the reasons why. We can compete against the other top four in the space with these things and these are the reasons that we’re competitive here.

We also have the opportunity in the future to bring support, business development and engineering on our shore. I can keep everything just a little bit more timely. I’m not saying it’s not responsive in the UK, but I know for a fact, and I think everybody would agree that, if you’re in Australia, it’d be wonderful to have some support available there, just because it’s in the same time zone and the culture is different. 

“What I’m most impressed with in Signagelive is how open the communication is with the end users to support the reseller.”

So, we’re really going to emphasize these things. I’m a hugely transparent person as well. I say what I say and people either love me for it or hate me. I always say people will take a bullet for me, or like to put a bullet in me! I’m okay with that.

But, to tie these things together – what I’m most impressed with in Signagelive is how open the communication is with the end users to support the reseller.

That is just joyful for me because the resellers have a ton of responsibility. This may not be their core competency, for example, or where their largest profit center is. We’re one small sliver of maybe a huge installation project that is worth absolutely millions of dollars, and all in all, our cloud-based services, maybe thousands of dollars. Like always, the content has to make everything work. How you make that content work is just as important as the content that goes on the screen.

So, I’m looking forward to working with distributors – our valuable distributors here, as well as the resellers and to tie these things together a little bit more and participate and show up at events that they have. You know, be a representative for Signagelive.

4/ What will be your main drivers for success?

The reason I had success at home is because people that know me know I’m a grounded person. Even though I’m very high energy, I’m usually like this all the time. I’m pretty consistent. 

“We’re setting our pillars to build a business unit here”

So, I want to provide a nice level of grounding for what Signagelive is in the US. You know, we’re setting our pillars to build a business unit here. So, we’re going to put the foundation pillars in place, put the foundation in and then start building it up. 

We have two team members currently in the US market that serve North America primarily. I want to help them with general leadership. I would like to align our visions and strategy – to make sure that the energy that we’re spending is really useful and constructive. And that the return we’re getting and the return we’re giving to our resellers and distributors are equally as constructive. That means the world to me.

I also want to make sure that we’re highly focused – that we’re lifting up the end users, so they can get the best value out of Signagelive they can possibly get. I don’t necessarily want them to know the Signagelive name, but I want them to know that all of our kiosks, LED boards, internal communication, and drive-thru signage is working great, and that the content looks great.

So, I just want those things to be very consistent. And if people are willing to share a review, or say hello to me on the phone or in person, all the better. I’m also just very excited about meeting some of these key players in the Signagelive space and helping to build programs around them.

Maybe there’s more we can do. Maybe we can help lift them up just a little bit more, not necessarily through financial incentives, but through collateral. And is there a presence that we can show? Is it worth showing up to a meeting face-to-face? I believe that 95% of everything in life is just showing up with a smile on your face and a good attitude.

So, putting these pieces together, I truly believe we can replicate this both in Canada and the US with a great deal of success. And I’m looking forward to the challenge. 

By the way, I’m friends, pretty darn good friends with a lot of competitors in our space.

There’s some wonderful content creation companies and content management systems in the US and Canada. I would never do anything to jeopardize that relationship. I’m going to compete against them fairly, but I would never say a disparaging word. 

I’m looking forward to the challenge – going head-to-head, with some of my friends and business friends and seeing how well we can do.

5/ Is there anything that you would like to add?

I’ll just say this one more time and I apologize, but as you know, when you do public speaking you always say things at least three times – the same subject matter in a different context, right?  

I’m very, grateful for the opportunity. I am super-appreciative of the challenge, especially with the economic climate that’s a little bit wobbly globally! That’s a hashtag under a statement by the way.. 

But all projections for our space and the audio-visual space, specifically digital signage, are still astronomical. The growth is projected to be tremendous.

I’m looking forward to the opportunity just to compete – to do the best that we can do. And, to say with pride and confidence, really, what Signagelive is all about.

And, you know, I’m looking forward to anybody that sees this to contact me to say hello or tell me that was the worst interview I’ve ever seen! That’s all good.