Shane Long believes any business problem can be solved with the right technology.
As the president and COO of 7T, Long helps lead a Dallas-based software development firm that works with Fortune 500 companies and startups looking to improve their advanced technology with mobile apps, ERP platforms, CRM systems, or other enterprise solutions. The digital transformation company takes on a business-first approach, creating products and programs that can help streamline operations and drive revenue.
7T has been mastering digital transformation—and doing it well—since it was founded by Kishore Khandavalli in 2012. To date, the team has built more than 100 mobile applications and software platforms for a big-name client list that includes SiriusXM, PepsiCo, and Bell Helicopter.
Digital is 7T’s bread and butter. That’s why it’s surprising to learn that the team underwent a rebrand during the COVID-19 pandemic, amidst a year that saw more companies lean into digital adoption to survive than ever before.
The 7T rebrand
Actually, 7T’s transition to a new brand represented its successes throughout a year of uncertainty.
When the pandemic originally hit, Long and his coworkers were more equipped than most. As a full digital transforming company, there’s no paper in the office—Long says there might be a small notepad for “panic situations,” but other than that there’s nothing there. All he had to do was grab his computer, iPad and walk out the door to continue doing his job.
“We didn’t really miss a beat when it came to the pandemic,” Long says. “We moved out, we had VPNs, all our cloud stuff was there. And our customers—especially SiriusXM, our largest client—said of all the vendors they had, we kept delivering. Everything came in on time. That was a big point of pride for me. We had the right systems in place.”
So in December 2020, what was originally SevenTablets announced that it was shortening its moniker to represent its scaled offerings, which go beyond mobile software to include cloud integration, IOT, data analytics, and augmented reality.
The team had made a name for themselves in mobile innovation. According to Long, the company had grown 456 percent in three years, and was looking to another 40-50 percent in 2021. But as they expanded, mobile became only 20 percent of the business. 7T reflected a broader range of solutions.
Also, the name was just easier to identify (Think Federal Express’ syllabic abbreviation, FedEx).
“We bootstrapped to build a very nimble mobile company that morphed into a software company,” Long told Dallas Innovates. “When you hear SevenTablets, you think mobile, every time, right out of the gate. But our projects involve major digital transformation. 7T is a little more concise for what we do.”
Digital transformation defined
But what is exactly is it that 7T ‘does?’
At its core, digital transformation is the adoption of digital technology to transform a business. But some would argue that it’s a little more convoluted: It’s an organizational disruption, a cultural reset, or a radically rethought approach.
To Long, it means “10 times ROI.”
“I used to have a fancy definition for digital transformation. We all did,” he says. “But now, it means that if I come to your company, and you spend $1 million dollars with me, I can give you $10 million back in two to three years. That’s the goal.”
If a client can’t prove they have a clear statement when it comes to return on investment, Long takes on the responsibility of helping to develop it. Projects without ROI get killed, he says: “And so we spend a lot of time upfront on that.”
Take for example PHP Agency, a fast-growing financial services marketing company that’s based in Addison. When 7T was approached, PHP Agency had more than 60 pages of documents that had to be scanned, signed, faxed, and emailed before anything got done. It was what Long describes as a mess.
So that’s where he and his team come in: They built a complete digital system that eliminated all paper processes, had new workflows, and mobile apps for the salespeople, customers, and insurance providers.
“It changed their business completely,” Long says. “It’s not just let’s pretty up the website. Let’s change your company.”
Another instance is Rebel Athletic, the Dallas-based apparel giant behind most of the competitive cheerleading uniforms you might glimpse tumbling across a mat.
The challenge was that the test uniforms being used for fittings quickly became unpleasant after hundreds of cheerleaders tried on the same outfit. So 7T created an augmented reality app that, with two scans of a phone (front and side), developed an exact 3D model of a cheerleader for sizing.
“The tech could put the uniforms on, show what it looks like, adjust, and create an order all from a mobile phone,” Long says. “And all of a sudden, we saved over $500,000 for Rebel on test uniforms. The accuracy went up and the parents loved it because it was something they could get involved and engaged in.”
“Business first, technology follows”
But 7T doesn’t immediately build the technology for a client like PHP Agency or Rebel Athletic. First, they spend two to three months learning the business.
The credo of the company is not just developing powerful software solutions. The team wants to produce growth, while increasing efficiency and revenue.
And that means waiting to talk technology, and first understanding the problem, the sales process, and the core of a company, according to Long.
“At the end of three months, I say, ‘Look here’s what we can do for you,'” he says. “‘I can change your business and take you from the hundreds of millions to a chance to do a billion dollars.’ These are real numbers.”
Meet Shane Long
That innate drive to help entrepreneurs and founders succeed is evident in both 7T and Long himself.
With more than two decades of experience in enterprise software, mobile, semiconductors, and SaaS markets under his belt, Long is well-equipped to work with some of the world’s leading companies.
For starters, in the ’90s, he got his start as VP of Sales for STB Systems, a role in which he helped the company IPO and sell for around $156 million. Equipped with a “good paycheck,” from there he became an entrepreneur with two Finns who worked for Nokia, founding semiconductor company Bitboys Inc.
Together, from 2001 to 2007, the trio built the industry’s first graphical processors for mobile phones. The technology went into the Samsung smartphone—and ended up staying in there until around four years ago—and Bitboys was bought by ATI Technologies for $44 million.
Long went on to become known as a pioneer in the smartphone industry whose technology lived on into the third generation of smartphones.
“I learned about mobile phones before the iPhone was invented,” he says. “We had the first graphical processor in a Samsung smartphone back when they were just phones. I learned mobile, and I got my pioneer stripes for kind of developing the platform.”
Today, Long’s passion lies with helping fellow entrepreneurs. He wants to do more than just software—he aims to understand a business so well that 7T becomes part of it. He even puts his own money behind some of the startups the team works with.
Most recently, 7T re-launched its Foundation Program, an 8- to 12-week training course that provides startups with an actionable plan for the development of a custom mobile app or software platform.
“At the conclusion of the Foundation Program, clients will have a solid understanding of how the development process works. But more importantly, they’ll have a kind of project road map for prospective investors,” Long says. “It’s one thing to have an innovative idea. But investors want to see wireframes, mockups and they need a solid sense of ROI before they invest in a project.”
There’s a reason the program was rebooted here in Dallas, where 7T has made its home. Most of its clients are based here, and the team genuinely wants to assist locals in getting their businesses off the ground.
And, Long himself is a “Dallas guy,” born and raised.
“There’s no reason for Dallas to be here. There’s no oceans or rivers or mountains or beaches—we built this amazing city in the middle of nowhere, and we did it for entrepreneurs. It’s the largest landlocked metro area in this hemisphere. It’s something to be proud of,” he says. “And a lot of what we do is helping local entrepreneurs launch businesses. It’s the most fun thing we do at 7T.”
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