Bio: Dan has started and been involved with companies that have collectively raised over $100M in venture capital and have exited for close to $1B in M&A, including companies like Buddy Media, Spinback and Lotame. As a result, he has extensive experience in startups, technology, business operations, financing, management, and scaling large teams. He's a contributing writer for Forbes and Harvard Business Review.
In March 2015, Dan co-founded Troops, a venture-backed technology company that gives professionals a mobile sales assistant powered by artificial intelligence. In early 2015 he was also selected to receive an Early Career Award by a vote of the College of Engineering Leadership Council at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. In 2014, Dan co-founded TULA, a health and beauty brand exclusively sold through QVC. He has led the company as active CEO from inception to over $1mm in sales in less than one year.
In 2012 Business Insider named him on the top 100 of "one of the coolest people in New York tech." In 2011 he co-founded Spinback, which was acquired by Buddy Media, which was then acquired by Salesforce.com in 2012, marking New York’s second largest technology acquisition ever. Dan led Spinback as the COO and upon acquisition, led part of Buddy Media’s accounts team, representing $40mm in business.
How did you get into the industry?
When I was a teenager I got hooked in technology thanks to two people. The first was one of my high school robotics teacher, David Peins. He opened my eyes to the world of robotics and programming and I ended up building autonomous, self-driving, robots. The second was my first boss, Marc Harrison. He has a computer company called Silicon East and gave me a job building computers, servers and large computer networks. Then it was Electrical and Computer Engineering in college and shortly thereafter I met Andy Monfried. He gave me an internship at his startup called Lotame which became a full time job and that is where I got a crash course on building a fast growing VC-backed business.
Any emerging industry trends?
People are beginning to realize that technology should adapt to humans rather than humans adapting to technology. It is the reason we innovations like self driving cars, virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Technology should feel invisible and it’s beginning to happen in all industries. For us at Troops, it’s happening in the world of CRM and we are trailblazing the way on what the future of work will look like for folks in customer facing roles.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
Troops has partnered Slack, which is the fastest growing enterprise software company of all time. They achieved a valuation of $4 billion in less than 4 years and their customer base is demanding the solutions we are building at Troops. Quite simply, we can’t build product fast enough.
Inspiration for Troops, and your vision for it?
I’ve been hustling my whole life. So have my co-founders Scott Britton and Greg Ratner. We all realized the same thing. The function of sales and business development is critical to any business and so is the underlying data and workflow for that function. However, the software used to support these functions to date have fallen short in delivering an amazing user experience. Work should feel more human and not like interacting with a bunch of fields, forms, buttons and boxes.
What's next for Troops in the near future?
We are growing like crazy and are shipping new features and products every week. So that is the main focus on the business right now.
Your key initiatives for the success of Troops?
We have a maniacal focus on product and engineering. We are a product-first company. We continue to ensure that we are firing on all cylinders to make sure we are shipping world-class product on a regular basis.
Your most difficult moment at Troops? (and what did you learn?)
Jeff Bezos said, “be stubborn on the vision and flexible on the details.” In the early days, we didn’t get some of the details right so we had to adapt. By continuing to ask the right questions and stay focused, we were able to get those details right and now we are growing quickly.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
If you are a company or person at work that needs a system to manage information on your customers and activities, than Troops is for you. More specifically, if you use Salesforce and Slack, then we can really help you today.
How do you motivate others?
Communicate. Be transparent. Be positive. And show people that we are trying to change the world. As someone once said, “the best way to predict the future is to create it.”
Career advice to those in your industry?
There is no better time than now. Seize the moment and don’t be afraid to fail. You miss all the shots you don’t take.