Shadow CEO & Board Director Role

Over the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Dennis on a wide array of corporate governance issues.  Dennis is incredibly knowledgeable, and also incredibly responsive towards the issues we have dealt with. Whether it’s management of our corporate board issues, properly understanding bylaw issues, corporate governance issues or stock issuance he is always there for us.  I can highly recommend Dennis as I am confident he would be an asset to any corporation.

Cliff Fischer

CEO, Clifford Fischer & Company, real estate industry

I’ve known Dennis Cagan many years.  In that time, I’ve gained real respect for his many gifts and talents: his knowledge of corporate and Board processes and best practices runs deep; he’s a natural-born leader; he’s a world-class networker; he can run a Board meeting with total control, without ever losing his cool or offending others (unless they need offending); he can calm a tense situation; he has a keen sense of humor; he’s kind and caring, a genuinely nice guy who loves the Lord; and his collection of Hawaiian shirts would have made Jimmy Buffet jealous! In spite of these strengths, Dennis is completely relatable, never intimidating, always transparent – in short, Dennis is a very likable guy and fun to be around.  It’s been my joy and privilege over the years to call him a friend.

Bill Stone

Attorney, Founding Partner, Scheef & Stone, LLP; Dallas, TX

I have been consulting with Dennis Cagan for over 13 years involving several different businesses.  His long experience has given him truly a wealth of knowledge when it comes to all aspects of the minute details that go into creating a successful enterprise. He has also been very open to introducing me to people in his incredible network of connections. His connections are valuable and have helped me multiple times figure out where I want to go with a project. There have been several times when I did not take his clear advice and I invariably paid a price for not following it. I can confidently say that Dennis has been incredibly helpful every time we have worked together, and I have recommended him to many other entrepreneurs over the years that needed a business mentor. 

Steven Abbey

President, SOS Nutrients LLC, nutraceuticals, Santa Barbara, CA

A startup must continuously be effective in fail-fast decision making and in rapid and thorough adaptation.  Combined with a little luck, it will lead to a thriving startup and eventual business success.  As a brand new entrepreneur, I didn’t know about those much less how to apply them.  I had what I considered to be disruptive technology, but zero business knowledge.  In other words, I didn’t know what I didn’t know about starting my business.  Looking back now, the single best decision I’ve made in my startup was asking Dennis to become the “Business Architect” mentor and partner to my “Software Engineer Architect” role.  With Dennis’ excellent guidance and mentoring, I was able to learn to stop going down so many “rat holes”, both technically as well as non-technically.  I’m very happy to recommend Dennis’ deep wisdom and experience as a fantastic augmentation to any entrepreneur seeking to maximize their startup’s potential.

Jim O’Flaherty

CEO, QA Locate, location intelligence software tools, Dallas, TX

Upon engagement, Dennis undertook a personal, detailed, and comprehensive review of our corporate documents and recommended tangible things we could do to benefit our founder and principals – things we would not have realized nor benefitted from without him.  It is rare to receive contributions that grow more valuable over time, but that is what we got from him almost immediately.  Dennis delivers wisdom, guidance, and lessons in a friendly, relaxed style, often tucked inside a story and/or accompanied by a chuckle or two.  Having him on our team gives us the peace of mind that comes from knowing that when we next ask, “how do we get there from here?”, Dennis will have an answer or an efficient and economical plan for finding one.

Follow Up:


            Believe it or not, we're approaching our 4-year anniversary of working with you and we're grateful to have had you join our team.  Over time, having you as a sounding board, a mentor, and a trusted resource for figuring out how to do most anything that came our way has truly been a blessing.  Anyone who has ever engaged in an entrepreneurial endeavor knows that things come up that you've never dealt with before.  I have great respect for the value of good lawyers and accountants, but as we all know, they are not always super creative in their thinking and at times can leave you still yearning for a real solution.  

Your depth of experience and strength in advocating for founders and management teams has provided us with advantages we would not have otherwise realized.  The value of experience goes so far beyond book smarts, and our experience in working with you had only validated that fact over and over again.  Whether it be corporate governance, structure, ideas for protecting voting control of the enterprise, or any number of other facets of establishing a sound foundation for a startup and preparing if for growth and scale, I can't imagine a team that wouldn't benefit from your involvement.  If ever you are in discussions with anyone who is contemplating engaging you, please send them our way freely.  I'll be happy to share candidly about our experience.  We value your participation in our journey and there is no question that our company and we, individually, have benefitted, and continue to benefit, from having you as part of our team! Thank you for all that you are, all that you have done, and all that you do!

Adam Anthony

CEO, Guardian Alliance Holdings, Inc.; law enforcement SaaS, Stockton, CA

Over the last year, it has been an absolute pleasure working with Dennis. His knowledge and expertise as the Shadow CEO have provided tremendous value to our company. The real value we have derived from Dennis’ assistance is the proper formation of our corporate and equity structures providing confidence that the operations will excel forward knowing we have eliminated as much risk as possible. The leadership team has full faith and confidence in the recommendations and guidance provided by Dennis, and we look forward to a continued relationship knowing he is there to ensure things are being done correctly.

Mark Hall

CEO, LCAB Holdings, Inc., building industry trades, Atlanta, GA

Our board found ourselves in a situation where we needed guidance on governance, and we needed it quickly.  After several directors reached out for referrals, we all received the same advice– call Dennis.  Dennis and his team moved swiftly into action interviewing each director to diagnose our needs then scheduled a series of training workshops to equip us with the structure and tools we needed to address some gaping holes within our organization to put us on a path to more effective leadership.  I can’t thank Dennis enough for his counsel and for making himself so available to our team as we moved to adopt his recommendations.  I could not issue a stronger endorsement!

Tim Kachuriak

Board, large nationwide non-profit, and tech CEO, Plano, TX

Mr. Cagan’s expert knowledge in regard to all board of director and advisory board operations is incredibly valuable.  Mr. Cagan is able to quickly sift through problems to create solutions and do so in a caring manner while dealing with many different, sometimes big, personality types.  His level-headed expert approach is second to none.  His understanding of cap tables, bylaws, and board resolutions among other board matters, has made me grateful to have him on my side as the Shadow CEO in my corner.  I am only as good as the people I surround myself with.  Mr. Cagan has made me and my company all the better. 

Bill Hennessey

CEO, Pratter Inc., healthcare SaaS, Pittsburgh, PA

Dennis Cagan has served on our company’s Board for a very long time.  In that time, he has been a great source of knowledge, wisdom, and expertise.  He is particularly good at putting himself in the shoes of the entrepreneur, understanding the challenges of growth, and small company dynamics and advising from his wealth of experience, in that he has served over 70 companies in similar positions.  Dennis has a life of experience but continues to have to enthusiasm of a young entrepreneur.  He is also a great supporter and is continuously thinking of how he can help.  This and his substantial personal network of excellent people in many disciplines make him an excellent and valued Board member. Here are some of the services he has provided that have been very helpful:

  1. Senior executive level introductions.
  2. Board member introductions.
  3. Excellent network linkages to people from many industries - Dennis is usually the first person I would ask - would you happen to know?
  4. Prospective investor introductions.
  5. Deep insight into corporate structures - including governance, executive hiring and renumeration, stock option plans, incentive schemes.
  6. Negotiation strategy and particulars - has seen too many deals - has a lot to share.
  7. Corporate Strategy - key person to seek input on strategic goals, and attainability.
  8. Corporate strategy and specific insights to divestitures and acquisitions.

Tom Horgan

CEO, Acorn Technologies, Inc.; high-technology research & development, La Jolla, CA

Dennis Cagan is the total package!    His generational experiences across multiple industries, company sizes and stages from which he provides recommendations are exemplar.   He has first-hand knowledge of just about every possible scenario at least once.   Additionally, while not a formal attorney or tax accountant, I would put him up against any I have worked with previously as an executive.   This total package covering multiple disciplines allows him to rapidly think through solutions from all these perspectives.   His friendly demeanor and humor combined with unbendable honesty, character and integrity mean so much to me as I have come to trust him completely. 

Chris McSwain

President/COO & Co-founder, ThinkX, Inc.; human capital/hiring and talent management solutions SaaS, South Carolina

I cannot recommend Dennis Cagan Incorporated highly enough to any business or organization seeking wise, sound, practical and innovative counsel! Dennis has experience in multiple industries and roles, and he brings his earned advice to unique situations. When we reached out to Dennis, we had identified several key issues needing help, but also knew “we didn’t know what we didn’t know”. Because of his applied methods, he was able to accurately diagnose and offer prescriptions that put our organization on a path to recovery and health. By working with our executive team and board of directors, Dennis took us from a place of surviving to a place of thriving.

Mona Wilson

Board Member, Human Coalition, NGO, Plano, TX

Dennis has been on my company’s Board for nearly seven years, and I have considered him a greatly respected Board member and a trusted friend.  Unlike some Board members about whom I have heard other entrepreneurs’ comments, Dennis has, at various times, provided both encouragement and praise, and kind and diplomatic correction – often in the form of a question.  I also have appreciated that he is a man of faith and very high integrity as shown to all.  Any company, especially any new/small company, would be lucky to have Dennis on its Board.

Don Jarrell

CEO, Prista Corporation, healthcare SaaS, Austin, TX

As a first-time founder, my thoughts were consumed by enthusiasm and a determination to accomplish the collective goals of the company.  But with all that excitement comes an endless flow of questions and tasks that most do not feel confident or qualified in taking on alone.  From establishing strong foundational documents and addressing ongoing corporate governance needs, to attracting other notable board members, guiding management on strategic issues, preparing and connecting with investors for an institutional raise, evaluating key hires, and everything in between – Dennis really is a Swiss-Army knife of sorts.  One of the biggest and often overlooked joys of having someone like Dennis in your corner is his unrivaled humor and straightforward, no-nonsense demeanor when addressing issues big or small.

Aidan Veseling

CEO, HowzBout Inc., social media mobile app, Chicago, IL

As recipients of Dennis Cagan’s vast knowledge and experience, we must state that we could not have worked through the governance issues and requirements for establishing a corporation without his guidance and counsel.  As a corporate governance expert, author, speaker and teacher, Dennis has and continues to start, manage, advise, and serve on the boards of numerous companies including ours.  Dennis has guided us through corporate organization, registration, stock issues and ongoing governance requirements and processes.  He is of utmost integrity and we view him as not only a trusted advisor and mentor but a friend.

R.W. Peter Hartman II and Vaughn Johns, Jr.

Co-Founders, Protexol Inc., enterprise software, Dallas, TX

Dennis provides excellent guidance to our new management Board.  His due diligence knowledge is exemplary, and he delivers excellent leadership.  Everyone feels inspired after hearing his words of wisdom.  His friendly, approachable manner is highly commendable.  He mentors individual members’ and teaches them to prepare for rapid business development.  I highly recommend his services to any individual or company that seeks someone who can quickly ‘join all the dots’ and propose solutions that are not only practical but are financially achievable.  Over the years I have worked on numerous projects with Dennis.  He is an encyclopedia of knowledge and experience.

Geoff Williams

Board, HowzBout Inc., social media mobile app, Chicago, IL

Dennis has been a wealth of experience for our Think-X board.  From his vast rolodex of industry contacts to discussion on company strategy or term sheets for raising capital, Dennis has wisely guided Think-X through each stage of our journey.  He is always available when needed for a quick coaching call and provides timely and sage advice for our company.  He has helped us find board members and executives for our company which has enabled us to grow in our strength as a company.  We’re thrilled to have him on our board.

Ted Malley

CEO, Think-X, Inc.; human capital management SaaS, San Luis Obispo, CA

The Board of Directors for a Private Enterprise

A comprehensive inside look at creating and managing the boards of private companies of all types.

Your book is an amazing piece of work.  You are setting a new standard for a real-world advisory guide on boards of directors: why have one, and how to recruit for, form, run, and get value from a board.  You have done yourself proud.  This book reflects your vast body of experience coupled with superb writing talent, resulting in a guidebook that will be helpful to management and board members of not only the smaller and privately owned company but of established public companies as well.

James Kristie

Former Editor & Associate Publisher, Directors & Boards Magazine

This book should be required reading for all entrepreneurs and VC firms.  I particularly enjoyed the war stories on the Director Firings!

Don Daseke

President & CEO, Daseke Inc.

I have finally had a chance to peruse the new book that you sent.  This is excellent! There is such a huge gap in understanding on the part of private companies, startups, etc., as to ‘all things governance’.  Your book does a great job filling in this huge gap.  I wish you the best of success with the book.

Henry D. Wolfe

Chairman, De La Vega Occidental & Oriental Holdings L.L.C.

Full of practical examples of how boards can work and improve themselves. This is really, really good stuff.

John Adler

Former Partner, Silver Creek Ventures

What a treat! It brought me back to some good and bad times.  A must-read for any businessperson looking to run organizations.  Thank you.

Steve Sandquist

President, Sandquist Consulting

This book is of genuine value.  I do believe in the ‘independent’ board for private companies, but just as Mr. Kristie, judge that there is a dearth of good advice on how to recruit, develop, and lead such boards.  Yours will be a very worthwhile contribution to the field, and a book that I will recommend to the many in the audience that shudder at the task of building that first board.  Some specifics: Superb calling out of the need for documentation.  I see frequent instances where this aspect is either overlooked or simply seen as too much effort.  It is the first indication of the desire to be seen as ‘growing up’ or, if you will, professionalizing the organization.  You are spot on with your observation regarding recruitment that ‘you can often learn more about them from the questions they ask you than the ones you ask them’.  Your treatment of comparing the fiduciary board versus the advisory board is the best explanation I have ever seen.  And it is a question on the minds of many private companies that I have visited.  Kudos on this wonderful contribution to the family business segment!

Jim Ethier

Former Chairman, Bush Brothers & Company