Dan Reich is the co-founder and CEO of Troops, a venture-backed technology company that is building intelligent software to help millions of people combine data about their customers and relationships to empower them with critical information and actions so that they can make more money and grow faster. Troops is working with hundreds of companies and has raised about $18 million in venture capital from First Round Capital, Slack, and others. He is also the co-founder and president of TULA, a health and beauty business that has created the world’s first probiotic-based line of skincare products and is backed by LCatteron. He has been involved with companies that have raised over $100 million in venture capital and have exited for over $1 billion in mergers and acquisitions. Prior to Troops, Dan started a software company called Spinback which he sold to Buddy Media, and then to Salesforce.com for about $850 million. He has a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a contributing writer for Forbes, TechCrunch, Harvard Business Review and has been named Silicon Alley Top 100 by Business Insider.
Tell us about the early days of Troops.
In the earliest days of Troops, we were asking a simple question: what if updating your CRM was as easy as sending a text message? At the time, six of the top 10 apps in the world were for messaging and it just seemed like the way we worked in our personal lives would creep into our work lives in a very meaningful way. We would joke that Elon Musk was launching rockets into space and landing them back onto floating pads in the ocean, and yet at work, we still felt like data monkeys updating a bunch of field form buttons and boxes to do our jobs.
This question was pretty exciting to us given our previous experiences. For me, I spent some time at Salesforce as a result of an acquisition of Buddy Media (which acquired my company). So I got to see life at Salesforce, using Salesforce, and it was clear that there could be a better way to support customer-facing teams. My other co-founder, Scott, got to see this same issue through an M&A event as well while he was running business development at a company called Single Platform, which was acquired by Constant Contact. So he also experienced firsthand the pain and the opportunity around a better way to empower salespeople. Our other co-founder, Greg, was building his own startup, and as an engineer who was forced into the wild to sell his product, also quickly realized how painful and important it was to be really good and drive sales.
So we went to work. To start, we were testing our hypothesis by hacking together a ‘bot’ that would notify you of important tasks and then simply let you respond with the actions you wanted to complete. Then the bot would complete them for the salesperson. And by bot, I mean me and Scott. Yes, we were the bots! This helped us understand the behaviors of our customers and end users without investing too much time or energy into a concept people wouldn’t find useful. We realized we could be really helpful to sales teams in the field so we started targeting brands that had in-field sales teams…think beauty companies with products in retail stores all over the world. Our first investor, Ken, was able to help us quickly set up meetings with CEOs of these companies and in short order, we had a few companies in contracts with us for our sales assistant bot. We called it MIA: Mobile Intelligent Assistant.
Fast forward a bit and we realized this thing called Slack was taking off. Seemingly all at once, they announced their growth rate (great distribution), a developer platform that would support messaging and in-messaging apps (we knew we needed this), and a slack fund (commitment to an ecosystem). These three announcements made us think that going all-in on Slack might be a good bet. Some people thought we were crazy. We still might be as it’s still very early days, but so far so good.
We now work with hundreds of companies, many of which are the fastest growing companies on earth like Slack, Looker, Flexport, InVision, Andela, and more. We’ve got world class net retention with a growing base of revenue. We have amazing customers with feedback we could have never expected to get in the first place. Probably my favorite of all time is, “Since using Troops, I stopped smoking. Troops is my new soulmate.” Of course, it also helps to have amazing and supportive investors like Aspect Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Susa Ventures, Slack, Chicago Ventures, First Round Capital, and more to help us along the way.
It’s still very early days but we’re excited to be inventing a whole new class of software and way of working. A way that is more effective, more delightful, and more enjoyable. If we get it right, we’ll be able to empower your customer-facing teams to reach their full potential, and let them have fun while doing it.