Torchlite Helps Businesses Access, Manage Marketing Freelancers

Susan Marshall, founder and CEO of digital marketing startup Torchlite, has been working in the technology sector for about 25 years. Her experience is mostly in product development and marketing, and she’s worked for some of the most innovative companies in the world, including Apple, Salesforce, and Adobe.

With Indianapolis-based Torchlite, Marshall has set her sights on what she describes as “customer relationship management for freelancers” and the businesses that depend on them. The company connects customers to digital marketing experts, who then develop and execute campaigns. What makes Torchlite different from other collaboration sites is the way it helps customers manage and evaluate the marketing freelancers they work with, combined with the data and analytics it offers, she says.

“Marketing has gotten very complex and technical,” she explains. “It’s evolved to be something that requires both creative and technical or analytical skills. It’s increasingly difficult to find qualified people, and it’s hard to get visibility into everything going on across a company’s website.”

Marshall says companies large and small can find a Torchliter (freelancer) by going onto the startup’s marketplace and choosing someone based on the skills the assignment requires. The price is set according to the task, she adds.

“Say a customer comes on our site and wants to pay $150 to create a blog post,” she says. “They can use those parameters to find a writer for that price. Once the job is finished, we handle payroll because creatives don’t want to deal with sales and collecting money.”

So far, Marshall says there are 350 Torchliters on the website who have been carefully vetted and certified. The company has worked with nearly 100 customers across the country—from large, Fortune 500 companies to small startups, she says, who pay a subscription fee in return for access to Torchliters and marketing campaign analytics.

Torchlite has mostly bootstrapped its way forward thanks to revenues, but it has also raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from angel investors, Marshall says. The 25-person company is expected to grow to 140 people by the end of 2019, if all goes according to plan. Torchlite officially launched 18 months ago.

Throughout her career, Marshall says, she’s spent a lot of time talking to customers who were having trouble finding value in all the whiz-bang digital marketing tools they bought from her former employers.

“I wanted to figure out how to help them,” she says when explaining her initial desire to start Torchlite. “We had to find a way to put people back in the tech stack.”

As millennials continue to change workforce dynamics with their desire for flexibility and work-life balance, Marshall thinks freelancing will only become more popular, both for creative types and the companies who depend on their services.

“The gig economy is popping up in all industries because it offers people the ability to follow their passions and be flexible, and I’m excited to tap into that,” she says.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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