When my friend asked me if I wanted to start a literary magazine, I jumped at the chance to start and run something from absolute scratch. We kicked things off with a branding session where we discovered exactly what we wanted to publish, how we talked, and who we were as an editorial body. The concept we landed on was a five-times-annually online magazine that publishes stories at common travel times, focusing on well-written short fiction that exposes the interiority of its characters. The reading experience is like talking to the person on the stool next to you at a train station bar and gradually finding out that they're a total weirdo—so the weirder the characters, the better. Delay Fiction was born!
Over the next couple months I worked with my tech advisor Kara Bernert to build a Ruby build script that turns markdown into posts and issues, so we don't have to create static files by hand or deal with all the pagination. So far, it's working great, and since we coded it ourselves, I'm making incremental improvements as they occur to me or become necessary.
From a mission standpoint, we also knew we needed to pay our writers. We use Submittable (and direct outreach) to source stories and use the nominal reading fee ($3 per submission) to pay each author we publish $50 per story. It's not much, but it's something, and for a startup non-profit litmag, that's fairly unusual. Now we just need Ottessa Moshfegh to email us back.
As we were trying to grow Gust Launch from a transactional incorporation service into the go-to platform for founders running high-growth startups, we realized we needed to form relationships with our customers that would deliver recurring value and help them skill up as CEOs. As anyone who's ever run a business knows, the key to success is to keep an eye on your cash—so we built some simple, startup-founder-focused cash accounting tools on top of an expense tracker.
From a three-month, psychology-style market research project I'd led the previous quarter, we knew that startup founders wouldn't pay for accounting until they felt like they couldn't do it themselves, and that they were usually surprised at how much it cost to start late. But instead of paying accountants, they weren't using Quickbooks themselves—they were using spreadsheets or, more often than not, just ignoring their expenses completely. We could kill two birds with one stone by offering a simple way to track expenses and also help founders understand why they should pay a pro as soon as they can.
I spent some time with our accountants, learned a bunch about accounting on my own, and poked around the expense-tracking world to identify the features and functionality we could offer to customers: simple expense tracking, basic cash accounting stats, and as a bonus, tips about which startup costs and other expenses might be deductible from their corporate income taxes. Now we help founders avoid expensive accounting onboarding fees, pass them to our accounting partners sooner, and (most importantly) keep them coming back to Gust Launch.
Gust Launch starts with the incorporation process—a legal wizard that walks founders through creating a new Delaware C-Corporation. Because the software was built with the expectation that a founder would only do this once (and everything else the product does expects it to have already happened) there was no easy way to demo the software for interested prospects. To give them an idea of what the software looks and feels like, I created a video that shows the incorporation process.
This video is not exactly a live recording: it's a bunch of little screencaptures massaged, cut, and connected to simulate software use. The founder (Jacob Barnes) walks through the incorporation for his company (AppBlaster, a phone app that downloads five new apps a day (obviously not real)) in about two minutes, but in reality it would probably take more like... five minutes.
I shot the video using QuickTime, edited it using Adobe Premiere and Adobe Audition, and recorded about three minutes of off-the-cuff, highly ignorable guitar riffage for the de rigeur "inoffensive startup video" soundtrack. The voiceover was performed by a co-worker, but I wrote the script and produced the audio.
The outcome? Viewing this video quickly became one of the strongest predictors of purchase.
SummitSync's meeting automation platform had a viable market but wasn't organically achieving traction due to low category awareness, and their main strategy for finding leads was through cold calls. They brought me in to beef up their inbound pipeline and reduce their reliance on SDRs running outbound by bringing more and better traffic to the site, converting it, and nurturing the leads to demo-readiness.
I started with an SEO overhaul that aligned the website with the search terms their audience was using, then peppered the site with conversion points and engagement tools (like a pricing calculator), CTAs, and embeddable download units, all packaged neatly and controllable from the systems their marketers already used. I also set up marketing automation software and designed a custom Hubspot/Salesforce selective sync that kept only marketing-ready contacts in Hubspot but preserved all data in SFDC.
Next I built out a landing page system designed to capture interest from paid search traffic, especially search users looking at SummitSync's competitors, and paired the conversion points with automated funnel emails designed to nurture converters into a demo-ready state. Lastly, I rebuilt their blog templates to work with Google's AMP. At the end of the project, even discounting search traffic, the website was pulling in about double the traffic, and the traffic wasn't just bouncing, it was engaging with marketing and scheduling demos.
NYC. Head of Growth, January 2019 to present.
NYC. Marketing Manager, October 2016 to April 2018; Senior Marketing Manager April 2018 to January 2019.
Brooklyn. Brownstoner Product Marketing Manager, January 2016 to September 2016.
NYC. Marketing Manager, September 2014 to December 2015.
NYC. Writer/Social Media Strategist, October 2012 to August 2014.
Boston. Marketing Intern, April 2012 to August 2012.
New London. August 2008 to May 2011. BA: Literature with Film Studies minor conferred May 2011.
Amherst. August 2007 to May 2008. English and Film.
NYC/Worcester. Co-Editor & Executive Director, May 2018 to present.
Connecticut College. Dorm Rep, September 2009 to May 2010; Concert Chair, May 2010 to May 2011.
Connecticut College. Writing Tutor, September 2009 to May 2010.
Connecticut College. Magnet School Tutor, September 2009 to May 2010.
Connecticut College. Staff Writer, September 2009 to May 2011.