Torchlite, the platform for finding and managing on-demand digital marketing talent, announced today it attracted $3 million in funding to expand its tech-enabled network of digital marketing freelancers. Since its launch in late 2015 by former Apple VP Susan Marshall, Torchlite has raised a total of $5.5 million, secured over 100 new clients in 2017, and doubled revenue from 2016 to 2017.
Much has happened at Torchlite since we last featured them on TechPoint Index. In an attempt to make the platform reach new freelancers, Torchlite launched a new platform in April 2018 that creates a marketplace for professional freelancers to sell their own services. The two-sided Torchlite marketplace allows freelancers to create a storefront to showcase their services, and will in turn allow brands to rate and review those services.
Torchlite’s recent funding round includes funding from existing investors, including Scott McCorkle, a technology investor and advisor, and new investor Salesforce Ventures.
“Salesforce Ventures invests in the most innovative enterprise companies globally,” said Matt Garratt, Managing Partner at Salesforce Ventures. “With Torchlite, enterprises can tap into pre-approved, on-demand freelance experts to extend their marketing teams, fill critical gaps and transform their digital marketing. We’re thrilled to be able to support Torchlite as they continue to innovate and address the need within the digital marketing industry. Increasingly we are seeing startup ecosystems developing outside of Silicon Valley. Last year, roughly half of Salesforce Ventures investments in the U.S. were outside of California. Indianapolis is a thriving market for Salesforce, and we’re excited to see the continued innovation here.”
New funds will be used to expand its tech-enabled network of digital marketing freelancers. Susan Marshall, Co-Founder and CEO of Torchlite, feels that this investment demonstrates the positive way that the Indianapolis tech community is supporting each other and driving growth for the tech industry in our city.
“It’s very validating to get funding from Salesforce Ventures — our first really big institutional investor,” Susan said. “Now, because of their backing, there’s a lot of interest from other institutional investors, which is exciting for the future.”
What the strategic investment from Salesforce Ventures does immediately is open the opportunity for Torchlite to sell their platform and services to Salesforce Marketing Cloud customers. As a marketplace of on-demand experts accessed through Torchlite’s platform, enterprise organizations that don’t have enough talent at hand can flex up or flex down as needed to get all of the value from their Salesforce Marketing Cloud relationship.
Proximity to Salesforce Tower in Indianapolis has been a benefit to Torchlite both in terms of technology and services, as the two companies have partnered on integrations and on the creation of “playbooks” that show Marketing Cloud customers exactly what to do to get the most out of the platform.
Susan pointed out that as the “gig economy” model has matured there has been a split between the sharing economy that drives Uber and Task Rabbit, and the marketplaces like Torchlite that provides an advanced software platform to access highly specialized digital marketing experts.
“What I’m seeing more and more is a specialized network of experts, which is altogether different than the general idea of the gig economy or sharing economy,” Susan said. “That’s where Torchlite operates — as a specialized network — but it’s much more than access to experts. It’s management tools, payment processing, playbooks, services, and everything else you could need or want consolidated into a singular, powerful platform.”
Torchlite currently has 450 freelance profiles of experts ready to engage on projects ranging from writing and social media to highly technical roles like data engineers, user experience designers, marketing architects and other professionals who know how to unlock the value of marketing clouds. One area where Torchlite will be deploying new investment dollars is to double the number of experts using the platform in the next 12 months.
“We really want to encourage former ExactTarget Certified Experts and current Salesforce Marketing Cloud Experts to visit Torchlite and create a profile because we’re getting high demand for their services and could quickly match them with enterprises that need their expertise,” Susan said. Torchlite also works with other marketing cloud providers including Oracle, Eloqua and HubSpot, specifically around digital marketing.
The Torchlite model is attractive to many larger companies that have internal agencies who support a distributed marketing organization because it adds significant capacity on demand. According to Susan, Torchlite didn’t necessarily expect to see the success they have had with enterprises as quickly as they have, but the software and top-notch freelancers really extend enterprise teams and make the rest of the brand and marketing managers more self-sufficient.
Torchlite itself has remained fairly lean with 16 full-time employees in Indianapolis, but new positions could be created to assist with recruiting and vetting freelancers as the company works to double its network by this time next year.
The headline of this story was changed to accurately reflect that Salesforce Ventures is one of several investors participating in the new $3 million round of funding.