TechBytes with Susan Marshall, Founder and CEO, Torchlite

Susan Marshall

Susan Marshall
CEO at Torchlite

Research has shown that 57% of companies use freelancers regularly today, and over half the workforce is expected to turn freelance in the next ten years. We spoke to Susan Marshall, CEO at Torchlite, to understand the future of the private marketplace for digital freelance talent and how freelance marketplaces could put pressure on the traditional workplace culture of fixed payrolls.

Tell us about your role at Torchlite and how you got here?

I am the CEO and founder of Torchlite. Before I founded the company, I worked in product marketing for some of the most successful tech companies in the world, including Apple, Adobe and Salesforce. I saw the rapid evolution of Digital Marketing and Data Management technologies firsthand.

While working at Salesforce, I spent many hours on the road talking to marketers and found that most companies were using less than 20% of the capabilities of the application. In fact, Forrester Consulting reports that only 3% of marketers believe they are getting the full value of their marketing technology. Many simply didn’t know how to leverage the technology and couldn’t find the technical resources to implement the software correctly or build the personalized communications to drive the business results they were after.

Digital marketing was getting increasingly complex and no one was helping marketers keep up with it all. So, I knew there was a place in the world for a company that would match resources to the real business needs of marketers.

In 2015, I created Torchlite to help marketers unlock the value of their marketing technology by managing and embedding a private marketplace into their enterprise with hand-picked experts and custom playbooks. The platform enables marketers to find, engage and hire the world’s best marketing, cloud and SaaS experts who can help them get their work done.

How did you plan for the funding round?

Torchlite began selling services through an open marketplace and quickly found that large enterprise companies wanted their own private marketplaces. To accelerate development and meet the demands of our enterprise customers, we began looking for a strategic funding partner that would not only provide capital, but also enable Torchlite to build a network of top marketing cloud talent and technology that would provide real value to our enterprise customers and their marketing teams.

How do you plan to extend the benefits of this funding to your customers, partners and employees?

The $3 million in funding we raised in this latest round will be used to expand our marketplace of digital experts. The investment will accelerate the development of Torchlite’s platform, allowing organizations to access, engage and manage private communities of on-demand, digital marketing experts. It will also provide an enterprise-level SaaS platform for onboarding freelancers, tracking profiles, managing capacity and consolidating payment.

What impact do Salesforce investments and technologies have on your business outcomes?

Our partnership with Salesforce and with Salesforce Ventures is an example of the wonderful spirit of collaboration and partnership that exists among the Indianapolis tech community. By investing in and believing in our product, we can continue to serve the massive need in the market for certified experts and a more effective way to manage those resources to build complex digital marketing campaigns.

What is the future of the private marketplace for digital freelance talent?

Digital marketing has become increasingly specialized, and as a result, many companies are turning to on-demand, independent consultants to fill gaps on their teams. Research has shown that 57% of companies are using freelancers regularly today, and over half the workforce is expected to turn freelance in the next ten years. At Torchlite, we believe that creating a private marketplace of pre-vetted, highly qualified digital freelance talent is a seamless way to connect companies with the people they need to get more out of their marketing.

With an obvious proliferation of chatbots and virtual assistants, do you think freelance marketplaces too could put more pressure on the traditional workplace culture of fixed payrolls?

I see some of the best digital marketing talents in the industry going freelance. With the technology to be able to work remotely, many are attracted to the personal and professional flexibility that the freelance lifestyle provides. Our SaaS platform is not meant to replace traditional marketing teams, but to enhance them by providing specialized experts that marketers need to get the most of their marketing technology.

What is your take on outsourcing to robots?

For me, there’s no way that a robot or automated technology can replace the creativity of digital marketers. Automation and technology certainly play a key role, and that will continue, but companies need the creative and capable talent that is out there to deliver wildly successful marketing campaigns.

Thanks for chatting with us, Susan.

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