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RuckPack turns an idea on deployment into a business at home with Google Apps

Rob Dyer, Marine Corps Aviation Officer and Founder and CEO of RuckPack

Editor’s word: This Veterans Day, we’re celebrating our veterans’ contributions and successes as entrepreneurs, by means of highlighting a handful of the three.7 million companies run by using veterans within the U.S. Lately, we hear from Rob Dyer, lively accountability Marine Corps Aviation Officer and Founder and CEO of RuckPack, a peak performance nutrition shot.

The idea for RuckPack was born while I was deployed to Afghanistan with Marine Special Operations Command. While at camp we’d talk about how great it would be to start a company together when we got home — we could keep the gang together and hire other veterans to build up the team. We even came up with a business idea: a nutrition shot with all the vitamins and minerals to keep guys in our position healthy and focused through the long, tough missions. And before we knew it, we had the early makings of RuckPack.

We tried to get the company up and running when we got back from Afghanistan, but it was hard with everyone spread out all over the country. I told a Marine buddy of mine about the business plan and some of the challenges I was facing. He told me the first step to getting the company off the ground was to start using Google Apps for Business. The majority of our team is still on active duty, myself included, but wherever we are, we’re able to stay connected using Google Apps. That’s helped us release two flavors of our nutrition shot that are being sold at stores and shipped to soldiers abroad.
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Google Apps is the technological backbone to RuckPack — it’s what keeps our 12-person, multi-million dollar virtual operation running without an office. Hangouts keep us connected, whether it’s a conversation about a website change or a celebration of a big sale with a retail distributor. After spending day and night with these guys in the military, seeing their faces on a Hangout makes it feel like we’ve still got the gang together.

Google Docs and Drive help us keep track of and centralize our business plans and documents. Any time we get on a call with an investor, think of a topic for a blog post, or request content changes to the website, we open a Doc and share it with the appropriate people. That way, we can all keep tabs on our work, whether we’re checking in from Japan, where one of our teammates is stationed, or from Annapolis, where I live and teach at the Naval Academy.

Today, we launched our Veteran Distributor Program (VDP), which allows any U.S. veteran to join our sales force and receive a commission on any RuckPack product they sell. Our team knew from the start that we wanted to help fellow veterans; this was our way of expanding it beyond the core team. The concept of the VDP was launched and refined in a Google Doc, with each person on the team contributing with additions and comments along the way. We don’t have to be in a room together to get a great idea off the ground. We just needed a shared Google doc.

There’s nothing like the bond I felt with the guys I was deployed with. There was a sense of team and trust among us that we all missed when we got back home. What’s great about RuckPack is that we’ve been able to revive that same bond and camaraderie. Google Apps has helped us keep that sense of working towards a common goal — only now that goal is building a great business that helps the guys still out there serving our country.