Jun 06, 2018 Emily Brungard
Torchlite was built by marketers for marketers. We exist to enable marketers to do great work and love what they do every single day.
But where did Torchlite get its start?
Every idea starts with a problem. Ours was that marketing had become too complex.
“Torchlite was really founded out of pure necessity, because marketers were struggling and I could relate to them and felt empathetic,” according to Torchlite CEO and Co-Founder Susan Marshall. “You go and spend all of this money on tools with constantly evolving functionality and it’s hard for people to keep up with. Torchlite was born out of need.”
It all started with an idea from Marshall.
“I’ve worked in marketing and technology for the last twenty years. I worked at Adobe, Apple, and most recently at Salesforce,” Marshall said. “While I was at Salesforce, I helped to build their product marketing team and got to work with a lot of great engineers and product folks. That meant I got to spend a lot of time on the road, going to Salesforce World Tours and Connections to speak. I spoke to thousands of marketers, and what I noticed is that there has been a proliferation of marketing tools. Companies like Salesforce were doing a great job building products to help marketers better connect with their customers and drive better results. But marketing has gotten so incredibly technical and specialized that marketers were finding it increasingly difficult to get their work done.”
It’s just one example of the paradox of choice that marketers face. Access to so many different channels, people, and tools meant to make our lives easier has actually made things more difficult.
Ultimately, one conversation marked the beginning of Marshall’s path to creating Torchlite. After speaking at a conference, a marketer from a Fortune 2000 company approached Marshall, close to tears. Her team had purchased every Salesforce Marketing Cloud product, but quickly found that using these tools was harder than she had ever imagined.
She sold a promise to her executives that having these products would transform everything, but a year later she wasn’t able to implement anything. She felt like her job and credibility were on the line, and Marshall knew she needed to help.
“My idea was to build a platform that would make it really easy for any marketer to find, access, and engage with top digital marketing talent.”
“It didn’t make sense to me because there were literally thousands of agencies out there that could help, there are independent contractors, there’s talented people coming out of school that could leverage all of the technology, so there definitely was a gap,” Marshall said. “My idea was to build a platform that would make it really easy for any marketer to find, access, and engage with top digital marketing talent to help them get the most out of their marketing technology, to unlock their marketing technology.”
In true start-up fashion, Torchlite’s path wasn’t linear.
“I think folks might see us primarily as a services company. That’s how we started, but we’ve evolved quickly to a platform that enables freelancers and brands to work together. That was our strategy from the very beginning. It wasn’t to go build a platform and hope that people loved it. It was to build something that our customers told us that they wanted. We would go do this in a very services-focused, manual way and out of that came the platform that we have today,” Marshall said.
The talent that Torchlite sources is key to the product, but it’s also key to the success of the company. At Torchlite, we’re defined by our people, so we invest in them—they’re more than just employees.
“The original founders were friends and colleagues that I respected at ExactTarget and Salesforce,” Marshall said. “Dustin McCormick was one of them and is our CTO. Many of our leadership team members have past experience from Salesforce and ExactTarget.”
“I’m motivated to come to work every morning by the team of people that I’ve brought together,” Marshall said. “Making sure that everybody understands the vision, where we’re going, what’s important, what their role is in that, and how they can grow and be successful in their role. In a startup, you oftentimes have to pivot because you might not get it right out of the gate. So how do you manage a team through those changes so that they don’t feel like they’re spinning their wheels, or that all the work they’ve done has been for naught? That’s what gets me up in the morning and motivated.”
Torchlite is a product of the hard work of many people—employees, advisors, investors, family and friends.
“A small company depends on great people much more than a big company does.”
“I believe that it’s all about the people you surround yourself with. Steve Jobs once gave a great quote about hiring. He said: ‘When you’re in a start-up, the first ten people will determine whether the company succeeds or not. Each is 10 percent of the company. So why wouldn’t you take as much time as necessary to find all the A-players? If three were not so great, why would you want a company where 30 percent of your people are not so great? A small company depends on great people much more than a big company does.’ We believe in taking our time to find the right people—partners, employees, investors, advisers.”
We started Torchlite because we believe that marketers should be able to take advantage of the technology and talent available to them—and those resources should be easily accessible. Part of being a partner to marketers is listening to them, which is one of our guiding principles.
“We believe in being close to and listening to customers. It sounds easy, but as a founder you have so many other responsibilities. You’re raising money, you’re building a team, you’re working to make the business operate. But none of it matters if you’re not building something that provides true value and that your customers really want and will use. It’s necessary to be as customer-centric as possible.”
We believe that marketers deserve to have an advocate. We are that advocate.
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