Ever wondered if your high school tendencies have left you as you approach adulthood? Worry not, we’re not judging because as it turns out, the traits you picked up in your pre-mature years can help you power through life. Or in Dan Reich’s case, help you build 10 companies like a strong-minded, entrepreneurial Hercules.
Yes, you heard it right! Dan Reich, now Co-founder of Troops, has built nine companies before, all while answering to a specific need in the market. Today, his goal is to support businesses to work better through smarter technology.
We came across Dan’s story through our feature on Tula, a company he co-founded as QVC’s first digital beauty brand. Little did we know that Dan embarked on his entrepreneurial adventure in high school. And because no two businesses are the same, here’s a quick summary of Dan’s ventures, followed by what he has learned from years of hustling (and making it!).
“I remember when my high school friends saw me sell bouncy balls to students in high school and thought, ‘Damn, he’s a hustler.’”
Dan’s first business was probably every high school student’s dream come true. Thanks to eBay that had recently hit the World Wide Web, Dan was able to purchase bouncy balls in wholesale and then sell them to fellow classmates at school. “Margins were great! I had a locker and backpack filled with them and by the time break came around, you would see an anarchy and chaos of bouncy balls flying around.” Unsurprisingly, he was caught, got detention and stopped selling them.
From there on, it was a snowballing effect. Dan’s business ventures ranged from starting The Fashion Passion in 2002 with a friend selling wholesale clothing from the likes of Sean John and Rocawear, an events production company, Runaway Productions, at University of Wisconsin, that was later franchised to many college campuses, Thecampusatlas.com (a student information website that was rolled out to seven colleges), Lotame (a company he helped grow from 0 to 80 employees), Spinback (a social commerce and analytics platform he co-founded and later sold to Buddy Media and then to Salesforce) and finally, Tula (a probiotic skincare line).
The Aha Moment
If you think starting and closing businesses was Dan’s forté, you’re wrong. Because while running a few of these businesses, he was also enrolled in Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Wisconsin. No sleep for the wicked is the perfect encapsulation of his experience in college – work hard at night, study hard by day and hustle anytime in between.
Which brings us to Troops. “There was a common denominator in business development – the importance of managing the CRM category as a process within tech companies. We wanted to make work easier by bringing in all the intelligence, workflow, notes, etc. together and build upon what they were already using, such as Slack.” Basically, Troops allows you to chat with an artificially intelligent assistant instead of updating field forms, buttons and boxes while "getting things done," thanks to artificial intelligence!
Why the Name?
If you haven’t figured it out already, Troops is meant to represent the sales people who are (literally) at the front lines, taking (not so literally) bullets for their customers.
How It Works
The profession of sales is the #1 profession in the world. As a result, there are a lot of players, Salesforce being the largest one, trying to introduce easier customer solutions. "The old way of doing things is bolting messaging on to software. The new and right way is having messaging as the core with software and workflow built in and around the messaging interface."
This shift, as Dan compares it, can be better explained with an analogy of a time when we used horses and buggies. “It comes to a point when the horses can’t get any faster or the buggies can’t get any bigger. You must change the paradigm.” And, Troops has successfully done this by procuring 700 companies as its clients in less than 2 years and raising close to $10M in Series A funding.
“Sunday night comes around and most of my friends are like, f***!
I actually get excited to go in on Monday because of the people I work with.”
Having focused on both B2C and B2B companies during his lifetime as a business owner, Dan has learned a thing or two. His advice?
- Focus on the problem, not the solution. If you are a B2B company, you have something that your client’s company needs. They have a problem and you will help them solve it. Many companies make the mistake of getting lost in finding solutions to problems that don’t even exist.
- People always come first. At the end of the day, you can only control the controllables but what you can control is who you spend your time with. Building a business is an eventful journey so make sure you are choosing the right crusaders to follow along.
Think your business can benefit from this? Sign up here and get Troopin’!
Photo courtesy of Troops.