Pop quiz, hotshot!What do you do?

Pop quiz, hotshot! Your tech startup is growing super fast. Recurring annual revenue surpasses $1 million after just 40 days of operation, and the growing pains you expected a year from now are staring you in the face. What do you do? What do you do?

Torchlite co-founders Susan Marshall and Shawn Herring are answering this Speed movie-inspired pop quiz now. Their digital marketing platform and marketplace of specialists gained serious traction during its November-December launch, and the company is preparing to release a more robust version of its software later this quarter.

“Reaching the $1 million mark so quickly was good … very good, but it does create growing pains,” said CMO Herring. “Our unique model relies on a network of freelancers as specialists and they are our ‘product’ empowered with our software. Finding those rockstar project managers and digital marketers who could come from anywhere for just-in-time matching with businesses has been a priority.”

Here’s how it works. Marketers and other business leaders feeling the pain of keeping up with the constant onslaught of online marketing activities are matched with a dedicated digital marketing expert. This Torchliter™ helps figure out the best communications channels to promote your business — your “playbook” — and then for the next year she blogs, posts, tweets, emails and advertises your business while you track the gains on an easy-to-use dashboard.

As a marketplace with more than 200 digital marketers and growing, Torchlite can scale up or scale down immediately matching the needs of each client, adding specialists for things like Google Adwords campaigns, website maintenance, custom content and other focus areas when necessary.

Torchlite + Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick
In an early partnership, Torchlite Marketing has joined forces with Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick to deliver real-time media content and audience engagement across social channels.

The digital marketing marketplace or “gig-economy” concept came from CEO Marshall, whose credentials include long residencies in marketing and product development at Apple and Salesforce. She recognized that while technology was making things easier, marketers at small- to mid-sized business were having a hard time leveraging that technology to meet specific sales and communications goals.

“It’s the services part of the equation that isn’t quite what it needs to be for the middle market to get strategic value out of digital marketing platforms,” Marshall said. “Our goal is to match the right people with the right technologies whether we are the primary team, a complement to an existing marketing team, or augmenting marketing head-count without hiring.

“Torchlite adds people back into the tech stack, and along with our software we’re able to fix the broken model that is preventing marketers and business owners from using powerful digital marketing platforms effectively.”

Torchlite hasn’t pivoted, per se. The original concept is working and the founders expect even better results after rolling out the expanded and enhanced version of the Torchlite™  software platform. What has changed is the customer target.

Susan Marshall

Susan MarshallTorchlite concept catching on in B2B channels with manufacturers.

“We thought we would be targeting the tech sector and savvy marketers,” Marshall said.

“But it turns out there’s more opportunity in old school B2B sales channels with manufacturers and with business owners who know they need digital marketing, but they don’t know what to do and don’t have a team to execute on digital marketing anyway.”

Torchlite is finding its sweet spot with companies in the $10-$100 million annual revenue range that have at least one in-house marketing professional who needs their help. A great Torchlite prospect is someone who knows their business and understands the value of marketing, but is kind of lost in the digital marketing world.

The playbook for each client usually starts with one main strategy, a clearly defined effort with a beginning and end to kick off the relationship and get work product into the market. It helps to see how that strategy performs and then look at how to build upon it, to expand and support it in a variety of channels and then zero in on what success is going to look like.

Most of the early success for Torchlite have been the result of taking the hybrid approach of adding people back into the tech stack and selling it into the market as an agency and continuing to iterate. It’s the v2 software roll-out in March and the compounding impact of digital marketing results that the company expects to help catapult annual recurring revenue by a factor of five or more for 2016.

Featured Company of the Week

In an effort to raise the visibility and accelerate the growth of Indiana tech companies, each week we will spotlight a growing company with a compelling story. In particular, we will spotlight scale-up companies that are rapidly emerging and could become our community’s future success stories. Visit this page to learn more the Tailwind program and see if your company qualifies.

The Tailwind program is supported by grants from the Indiana Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (OSBE) and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.