Blog Archives: Mentors

A Great Mentor: Dan Khan (@leancto)

One of my great mentors is Dan Khan.

Dan is a serial entrepreneur and seriously amazing software engineer. As a lean startup practitioner he knows what it takes to make any vision succeed.

Dan as a Mentor

Dan has taught me something every single time we have met – including, most notably, our first coffee meeting*.

As an experienced entrepreneur and engineer, Dan has a wealth of experience from which to draw from. This has been invaluable to me in so many ways. From “what is the next step” to “what should I read” to “I have this problem, what now”. Being able to tap into an extra 15 years of entrepreneurial experience is killer!

If you think experience is important, wait until you get to know Dan as Lean Startup Guru. He has taught me everything I know about Lean Startup Methodology and he breathes lean startup advice! He has a the framework and plan to take any idea to commercialisation!

To me though, Dan is more than a mentor, he is a best friend. Dan and I have been through deep conversations, secret meetings, family dilemmas and startups.

Deep conversations

Dan and I get along incredibly well for such different people. The one strength we have in a relationship is our ability to disagree and understand one another.

For over a year, we have been having conversations and discussions about helping people network and build valuable trust circles.

During 2011, Dan started a company called Connectable with a friend of ours. Connectable sought to solve some problems in the space of professional networking. This exploit did not continue for long, but the idea and thoughts stuck in Dan’s head.

Dan and I had many deep conversations on the topics that Connectable had sought to solve, and eventually this idea began to take a very different shape. Thus, Refurly was borne out of these discussions.


When Dan decided to commit to the idea of Refurly he asked me to join him as co-founder. And, what an honour. Dan and I had been looking for something to work on together for months!

I accepted the opportunity and began working closely with Dan to understand the problems, customers, potential solution, UVP and everything we needed to know for Refurly.

Unfortunately, after a month since committing to work on Refurly, a new idea crossed my path called Copono. And, I have recently decided to commit to this.

Refurly is going to do some seriously amazing things, I have no doubt about this. Expect to see Refurly’s acquisition gracing your news feed a few years’ time.

Family Dilemmas

One of the reasons I am so close to Dan, is because he supported me in a time of my life when I hit the bottom.

When I got kicked out of my parents’ house with $0 savings and no paying job, Dan gave me a place to stay for 6 weeks.

It was during this time we had a lot of our deep conversations and decided we needed to work together.

I am ever grateful for this kindness, Dan. You are an amazing person!

Secret Meetings

One of my more subtle passions is helping other entrepreneurs. And, following Auckland Startup Weekend, Dan brought together 10 influential people in the startup space in NZ.

From here ensued over seven months of secret meetings, discussing what needed to be done to get the entrepreneurial space and entrepreneurs REALLY going in NZ.

Out of this group, I have gained many good mentors, but I am especially glad for the amazing friendships I have solidified with Dan Khan, Alan Froggatt and Rowan Yeoman.

As you can clearly see, Dan is a great man, an amazing mentor, and more importantly (to me) the best friend in the world.

If you want an introduction to Dan, please email me at justin[at]