Why I Built HeyTaco: My Mission to Spread Appreciation

Originally published October 2016


Hi there, I’m Doug, founder and Chief Taco Officer of HeyTaco. I often get asked why I built HeyTaco and “Why tacos?”. Those are great questions. HeyTaco is different, especially when you compare it to other products. I believe different is good, and you should know why.

The story

For the past ten years, I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by some of the most talented, dedicated, and inspiring people I know. I often refer to my colleagues at The Motley Fool as my extended family. It’s a fantastic place to work for those unfamiliar with the Fool, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. It’s regularly recognized by Glassdoor as one of the best companies to work for; the opportunity to work there is a dream.

And so…

At the end of 2015, I was asked to work on a talent development platform for the Fool’s HR team. Working on this project was a turning point for me personally and professionally.

Through that project, I discovered my passion for “feel-good” software. I define feel-good software as technology that improves people’s lives by reinforcing positive behaviors. It not only feels good for me (the one building it), but also for customers. I also realized how incredibly fulfilling it is to help people through technology.

The Aha Moment

After a few months of working on the platform, something started becoming clear to me. I saw an HR industry filled with mundane solutions intended to help employees. The problem is that most of them are “top-down” solutions with little employee engagement. I believe this is because they’re built for the wrong person. They’re made for senior leadership and HR people rather than for us, the employees. And so, the closer I got to the industry, the more I became frustrated with HR software.

This frustration ignited a fuse.

I knew I wanted to build products for the individual, so I started thinking about the most significant problem they face in the workplace. The problem that resonated most with me was the lack of feeling appreciated. Not feeling valued in the workplace is a pretty big problem. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 64% of Americans who leave their jobs say they do so because they don’t feel appreciated.

And so, I asked myself: “Can I help people feel more appreciated?”.

With the growth of Slack and the rise of chatbots, the opportunity became clear. Today, I’m humbled to say that there are over 2000 teams from all around the world using HeyTaco to spread appreciation.

But, why tacos?

This question comes up now and then. My short answer is that everyone loves tacos. If you look around the internet, you’ll see that they’re fun, and they make people smile. My aspiration is that one day tacos will be the universal sign of appreciation.

And since you’ve read down this far, here’s a little secret. HeyTaco didn’t begin with tacos. It started out with beers.


Award-winning Employee Recognition Software

HeyTaco is trusted by over 1,000 teams, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, and has been recognized with few awards.

HeyTaco is a leader in Mid-Market Employee Engagement on G2 HeyTaco is a leader in Mid-Market Employee Recognition on G2 HeyTaco is a leader in Team Building on G2 HeyTaco is a leader in Team Building on G2 HeyTaco is a leader in Small-Business Productivity Bots on G2