Getting to know Tim Smith, formerly of OnePlace, now at Intapp!

Just one month ago, Intapp broke news of acquiring OnePlace, a leader in cloud-based marketing and business development solutions for professional services. Since then, our newly integrated team has hit the ground running in using the powerful technology to help firms modernize, drive growth and cultivate strategic relationships.

In this interview, we talk to Tim Smith, founder and former CEO of OnePlace, now Intapp’s VP & Practice Group Leader of Marketing and Business Development. We’re humbled he’s come on-board and is already the driving force behind strategic ideas that continue to advance Intapp’s Industry Cloud. We hope you enjoy getting to know Tim as much as we did in this interview.

Intapp: Can you share with us your background? How did you get to where you are today?

Tim Smith: I grew up in Perth, which is on the west coast of Australia. I left Perth about 20 odd years ago and went to London, where I worked in investment banking, which eventually led me to working in legal. My first real legal job was with Norton Rose, and I ended up getting into their deals team. That’s where my appetite for CRM grew.

I worked with a number of law firms such as Kennedys, Slaughter and May, DLA Piper, Baker McKenzie. Working in-house, I would do their InterAction implementations, and I actually met our head of consulting in one of those engagements. His name is Vijay Motiramani and he taught me everything I needed to know about CRM about 20 years ago.

After working in-house at law firms, I then worked with a company called Trinogy, which was an Australian-based company with CRM and document management-system services. I worked with them for a number of years and then got a call from LexisNexis InterAction, heading up their consulting division in APAC.

Intapp: What inspired you to create OnePlace?

TS: After working with LexisNexis for a long time, I spoke with a lot of clients who gave me feedback about the platform and its many legacy issues. The platform was really aged, and it didn’t respond well to change. I just thought to myself, “well, it’s time to really capitalize.” This was about seven and a half years ago.

When I decided to start OnePlace, I looked into a number of platforms such as SugarCRM, Microsoft, and then went with Salesforce. I had a chat with Salesforce and said, “this is what I think we should build.” And it was essentially a lot of the good things InterAction did, and a lot of the things that Salesforce had in their products that just needed fine-tuning or areas that weren’t relevant and needed to be scrapped.

We came up with the name OnePlace because we saw it as the one place to go where lawyers could receive all the information they needed. And that’s the common goal, I think, that John Hall and Intapp’s senior management had with respect to where they want to go. They wanted to have an integration system with one point, and in which the whole client life cycle could be managed with one product.

Intapp: What do you like about Intapp as a company? Why did you decide to embark on this journey with us?

TS: We were looking at raising capital to really grow our business, and we were in pole position with where we were with CRM. And then one day out of the blue, your head of M&A called me and said, “look, we had a chat last year. This is what we’re planning on doing.” And I said, “are you serious?”

And so, as soon as I had that call, I was pleasantly surprised and slightly confused, and overjoyed at the same time. Confused because Intapp just bought DealCloud but overjoyed because once I had a look at the product, I realized how amazing it was and what a great opportunity this was.

I was also impressed by your senior management and continue to be inspired by them. I love what they’ve built, including a phenomenal product suite that continues to evolve. So, whereas I could have raised capital and exploded as a business, I saw a really good opportunity to help you grow yours (and ours together) because the two complement each other so nicely – as do our company cultures.

Intapp: Why do you love technology?

TS: I love technology because I’m an ideas man. I don’t have an IT degree, but I know what works. I have a business degree, so I know how to build a business, and how to shape things to meet clients’ needs. The best thing about technology is that if there’s a need, you can come up with a solution to that need with the help of technology.

Intapp: What are the tech apps/gadgets/tools you can’t live without?

TS: I can’t live without my laptop and I can’t live without my phone. That’s it. I’m not into social media.

Intapp: Are you a Mac or a PC user?

TS: I’m an Apple phone user and a PC computer user. I’ve always been on a Dell computer from day one of my career. And I think that probably signals, “am I up for change?” To a degree, yes. Personally, I am, but business-wise, if I’ve got a good formula, why swap it?

Intapp: What’s your work style/leadership style?

TS: I have captained a number of teams such as cricket, rugby, and football teams. I’m an extreme team player. The reason I’ve got leadership skills is because I look at the people around me and I work out what they need to personally be successful, but also how they can advance their skills and how they can add value to a team.

I consider myself very much a collaborator. I ask people’s opinions. I operate at a frantic pace, have very high standards, and unfortunately, I’ve always had issues with patience. But I fully trust my team – I hire the best, and they have always delivered. As a leader, I’m 100% transparent. I think it’s important to be transparent because when you are, you can achieve more. You can’t pretend to come up with the right solution all the time. So why not ask opinions from people around you?

Intapp: Can you take us through your typical work day?

TS: I wake up at 6:00 a.m. every morning. I process about 120 emails, grab my gym gear and work out. I have a personal trainer and go to the gym four days a week if I’m not traveling, and that involves cardio one day and weights the next. I then go back to my computer for about an hour, then grab a coffee with my wife and then it’s back to work. After an intense morning full of meetings, I’m working on all other aspects of the business, which can be anything from financials to HR issues.

Even before joining Intapp, I’ve had a pretty full travel schedule. I was away from home roughly two-thirds of my time, maybe more. So overall, lots of traveling, lots of very early morning meetings and late night ones too, which is one of the challenges of running a global company from Singapore – and now managing the Marketing & BD practice. But it’s also fun!

Intapp: What does your workspace look like?

TS: My workspace is quite plain. I’ve got an office in my house where I tend to do my work, and then every other day, I go into our Singapore office in the city. At home, I’ve got a room with a desk and a filing cabinet. There’s a bed behind me as well since it’s a spare bedroom study. There’s also a printer, a set of files on my desk and a place to put my pens even though I don’t write much anymore. I tend to use my computer a lot. My computer is a four-year-old Dell with a missing key on it. I’m wearing things out, and am due for another one soon.

Intapp: How do you recharge and take a break?

TS: Under normal work conditions, I recharge by going to the gym. I recharge by hopping on a plane and sleeping. That’s my recharge. I mean, every day I fully recharge by grabbing a wine at five o’clock with my wife.

I don’t really have much time to socialize because I’m pretty intense at work. That’s my focus. But that’s always been my focus. I do change my environment though. So, if I’m not going to San Fran or I’m not working here, my family and I go to Switzerland twice or three times a year and ski. Even when I’m hiking and skiing in the Alps, I’m still thinking about work.

Intapp: What is the best career advice you ever received?

TS: Hire people that are smarter than you is the best one. The other one is to be 100% focused – focus, focus, focus! Focus on what you’re good at. In my case, I’ve focused on legal tech and that’s worked.

Intapp: What are your hopes and dreams for your new role at Intapp?

TS: I think that my hopes and dreams are to settle into my new role. My vision is to very quickly create a baseline product that we can win over our competition and to be the premier-grade solution in the business. My goal is for the OnePlace product to be fully integrated with the whole of the Intapp product suite – and to get there as quickly as possible.

My goal is also to make sure that all of my staff are happy and transition well into Intapp. That’s one of my other objectives – to make sure there’s incentives for them to do really well and be successful at Intapp.

Thinking more about my individual role, I realize that I can’t control everything, which is really tough for me. It’s not what I’m used to. So, I think my dreams are just to be patient, achieve the development goal, achieve the HR goals and to really turn this arm of the business into a cash cow for Intapp, quickly.

Thanks Tim, for this candid interview and a look into your world. We’re excited to see how Intapp OnePlace evolves in the near future to bring clients even more value to competitively grow and succeed in the modern marketplace. What other questions do you have for Tim?