The sharing economy business model has definitely worked for billion dollar companies like Uber, Airbnb and Instacart. Now, professional services companies are venturing into interesting new operating structures that they are calling collaborative economy, or gig economy business models. With the launch today of Torchlite, Indianapolis can now claim at least two start-ups in this fast-growing tech category.

Last month we wrote about ConsulTeams, a Fishers, Ind.-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) company that helps entrepreneurs and businesses overcome the challenge of finding qualified experts, which launched Oct. 22.

Today, Torchlite debuted with the promise of ‘fixing what’s broken with digital marketing.’ The Indianapolis-based start-up is focused on challenging the way companies go to market by giving business owners an alternative to hiring expensive in-house digital marketing staff or outside agencies.

Fueled by freelance workers, Torchlite’s on-demand marketplace enables businesses to reach a network of independent marketing contractors to plan and execute digital campaigns. The marketing specialists are hand-selected for each client based on their skills and the clients’ needs. Clients can add, subtract or modify marketing programs, and are given access to an online dashboard where they have complete visibility to track their marketing goals.


Co-founded by Susan Marshall, Torchlite connects businesses to certified specialists called “Torchliters” who follow proven digital marketing strategies to drive online traffic and convert that traffic into sales. The company’s early customers include Jiffy Lube, Mobi, Interactive Intelligence, and St. Elmo’s Steakhouse, among others.

Kyle Kinnett, owner of Indianapolis-based Bullseye Event Group, is another early client. In Torchlite’s launch news release, Kinnett was quoted as crediting Torchlite with increasing his company’s web traffic by 270 percent, compared to the same period last year. He added that the traffic is translating into revenue.

The results-oriented model is not surprising coming from CEO Susan Marshall, who has worked for some of the biggest and most successful technology innovators in the world, including Apple, Adobe and Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

“Torchlite is more affordable than an agency because we use freelance instead of in-house employees,” Marshall said. “Customers use their existing applications and plug them into our platform. We ‘drive’ those applications on behalf of the customer. They can cancel analytics services, because we provide one consolidated view of all their data and show performance over time.”

A recent survey of small and medium sized businesses found that although 75 percent of owners believe marketing online is an effective way to attract new customers, less than a third understand how to use digital marketing to increase sales.

If these smaller businesses do, in fact, end up spending more money in digital marketing, Torchlite is certainly poised to capture its fair share of this emerging gig economy market.