How Troops Plan To Revolutionize The Future Of Hpspitality Work In Asia Pacific


Ludivine Barre, Tanya Menzel, and Joon Park are the co-founders of Troops, a tech start-up that has just launched in Hong Kong with the ambition to transform the future of hospitality work. We discuss their take on the global staffing crisis impacting the service sector and why they built Troops. Troops is an app that connects on demand hospitality businesses with vetted professionals for short term missions. The technology even at this early stage is impressive with the app taking care of the part-time staffing process end-to-end: recruitment, matching, contract and compliance, benefits and rewards, and payment.

Q: Can you tell us about Troops in a few words?

L: Troops is an app that matches hospitality and retail businesses looking for extra staff with vetted professionals. The app enables businesses to cover staff leave or to optimize their business in peak periods for instance. And it enables professionals - whom we call Troopers - to make some extra cash, gain some experience or simply take control of their work schedule.

T: Troops gives the freedom to hospitality professionals or students to work when they want, where they want, and how much they want. With Troops they also get paid on demand instead of waiting for the end of the month to receive their salaries and rewards. Business benefits as well from the ability to access on-demand a community of vetted professionals without having to spend time and resources on recruitment, payroll, and compliance.

Q. So, would you say it is the Uber of work?

L: technically, there are similarities. Troops is a platform connecting two pools of users with opposite needs and values, on demand. We are also using a matching algorithm to find the best matches for both business and troopers. Technology is at the service of a real impact on the day-to-day life of hospitality professionals. We hope to have a positive social impact in the community and demonstrate that working in hospitality is not incompatible with flexibility, career growth, access to social benefits, etc.

T: Our mission is to make Hospitality work flexible, sustainable, and human. Flexible because we offer on-demand work and on-demand pay. Sustainable because the Troops platform ambitions to make part-time work in hospitality a sustainable lifestyle. Human because Troops build a community enabling troopers to connect, communicate, and get support.

Q: Why hospitality and what is your experience in that space?

T: We met two years ago as respectively the CFO and CPO of a restaurant group. For both of us it was our first experience in F&B as I come from the tech industry and Ludivine has a retail and e-commerce background. Many weekends we were on the floor covering shifts due to short staffing or staff not being able to come last minute. That's when we started to realize that the industry was undergoing a staffing crisis.

L: Being outsiders we also realized that this staffing crisis was not a temporary situation driven by the global pandemic but had been building up for decades. While other industries have been evolving towards more flexibility, hospitality jobs still are characterized by demanding work hours, relatively low pay, poor work-life balance, and a lack of social recognition. This has been driving both veterans and new generations away from the industry despite their passion. So we have been looking for a solution to make hospitality work more attractive and make hospitality people feel more valued.

How do you plan to resolve this equation with Troops?

L: Troops core components are on-demand shifts and on-demand pay. We have observed that this also means our Troopers come to their shift with renewed enthusiasm and excitement. One of our Troopers summed it up the best when he told us that he felt Troops was giving everyone the opportunity to be an entrepreneur in his own right.

T: For business, this equation also works. With Troops they have access in seconds to a trusted community of professionals matched to them and their mission. They save time and resources in recruitment, onboarding, compliance and contracting, and payroll processing.

Financially, how does it work?

L: When a business creates a mission in the app, the cost of the mission is displayed right away. Troops set a minimum cost depending on the mission type that the business can increase at its discretion. At his end, the Trooper can see the rate he will receive upon accepting the mission, which is already taking into account Troops commission. It is very simple.

T: Also, the more the business pays the more the Trooper earns.

Who is your competition today?

T: Our model is very specific. We are an end-to-end solution for part-time work and nobody else in Hong Kong combines technology and on-demand part-time staffing. This is not to say we do not have competition but that would be traditional part-time agencies and recruitment platforms.

L: The differentiation is not as much our technology as the relationship we are able to build with our users that enables us to keep on sending the right Trooper to the right mission instantly.

What next for Troops? Where do you want to be in 2 years?

L: Our first focus is to scale in Hong Kong. 500,000 people are engaged in F&B, hospitality, and retail in Hong Kong and the market size for employee compensation in those sectors is USD $13bn.

T: We want to keep on bringing more flexibility to the hospitality industry and make sure that the offer and demand for work meet in the best possible conditions. In two years we hope we will have started bringing flexibility to more hospitality markets in Asia Pacific. As for Ludivine and myself, you will most likely still find us working shifts to get to know our clients and troopers better.