From Sales to CEO: Q&A with ReSource Pro’s Dan Epstein

ReSource Pro CEO on His Career, Growing the Business

When Dan Epstein joined ReSource Pro in 2005, the company had just 25 employees and $125,000 in revenue. A year later, Dan’s effective sales strategy earned him the position of CEO. Since then, he has helped grow the company from a startup into a global business with more than 6,000 employees across the U.S., India, and China.

Over the course of his career, Dan has served in the Israel Defense Forces, conducted economic research in East Africa, and performed international trade work in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has earned degrees from Columbia Business School and the London School of Economics. His experience also includes vice chairmanship on the Board of the World Future Society, as well as several stand-up comedy gigs in New York City. In 2018, he was named one of the “Hot 100” leaders in the insurance industry by Insurance Business America.

Last year, Dan sat down on the Evolved Broker Podcast with host Pat Costello, co-founder and principal at Evolve MGA, to discuss Dan’s career, his time as a stand-up comedian, and more.

After Columbia Business School, you got into stand-up comedy. What made you interested in stand-up?

I finished business school, I had a ton of student debt, and I was living on fumes and temping just to pay my rent. I thought, well, I’ve got to do something to keep sane. And so stand-up comedy seemed to be the way you poke fun at yourself, and it was a good mental health experience.

I did a course at Caroline’s Club and ended up performing at a whole host of comedy clubs across New York City for beer and steak. For about a whole month I thought about making it a career, and then I got the opportunity to work at ReSource Pro and realized very quickly that stand-up comedy was definitely not something I had anywhere near enough talent to do.

How did you discover ReSource Pro and what was your first year like?

I saw an ad on the Columbia Business School careers website, and I said, “That’s got my name on it and it’s market entry.” And happily, they gave me the opportunity. Initially, I was doing sales and marketing, and about a year later became CEO.

It took me about 8 months before I made my first sale, and quite frankly my colleagues and the owners of the company were probably concerned. To their credit and to my fortune, they gave me the time to figure it out. On the eighth month, I made my first sale. And then the sales started to come in thick and fast such that by the end of the year, I had my review and they said, “We were really worried about your strategy, but you’ve been vindicated. You were right, we were wrong, and we’d like to make you CEO.”

What then happened was that we saw the challenges and bottlenecks in the business would just keep moving around. It wasn’t just sales anymore; it was how many team leaders can we develop? Because it takes a year to develop a team leader. And once we solved that, it was how fast can we onboard clients? The challenges would constantly evolve, and you just had to be agile enough to flow with it.

You have one story from your time in the military that really speaks to future moments in your career. Can you share that?

To me, it’s an importance of process story. We were out each night looking to make sure there was no infiltration into the sector. And on one occasion, I was listening to the comm and heard a fellow tank say, “Hey, we see some very suspicious individuals; we think they’re carrying weapons. We think we need to take action”—which basically meant potentially engaging them.

The message from the command post was, “Do not engage.” And a conversation then ensued: “We’re going to miss the opportunity. They’re going to get through. They’re going to fire a missile. We need to act now.” An argument went back and forth, and I could hear the increasing intensity, “Permission to engage. Permission to engage.”

“No, stand down. Do not engage.”

They did not get permission. They did not engage. And it turned out that they had been looking at a unit of Israeli soldiers. Had they fired, had they not followed the process, they would have committed friendly fire.

You’re in a situation like that and you think to yourself, “If today was my last day, what would I do differently?” And you realize there’s nothing to do differently, you’ve just got to do your job, follow the process. And I think that’s the basis, the fundamental for everything. It’s not sufficient to be great at something. Or it’s not sufficient to build a great company. But it’s the basis, it’s the foundation for any organization: do your job and follow the process. Once you’ve got that you can start to innovate, get creative, and be thoughtful.

What makes ReSource Pro unique from others in the insurance outsourcing space?

We started out back in the day doing classic staff augmentation—you know, we’ll do what you do. As we took on more and more clients, we started to build a library of processes and tasks, which today is more than 17,000 different tasks that reflect all the different variations of work we do across 400+ insurance clients. That enabled us to start seeing that the opportunity here is not just a cost saving.

It wasn’t, “I pay my people $40 an hour, I pay your people $15–$20 an hour.” It was really about, “For every hour I can get off my producer’s desk, or my senior account executive or underwriter’s desk, at $15–$20 an hour, I can support $200–$400 of revenue.”

That’s a productivity claim. What it required of us was to develop a deeper and deeper understanding of our client’s operations, the steps before and the steps after, so that we could link tasks into complete functions and create more revenue capacity for our clients.

It meant we had to get better and better at understanding technology and data and, probably most important, insurance knowledge. So that today, we’re increasingly having knowledge around insurance compliance and how you thread that into your insurance processes, often more than our clients, too. And we can elevate our clients to perform their core mission better.

Watch the full interview with Dan Epstein on the Evolved Broker Podcast website

Listen to our interview with Evolve MGA’s Pat Costello