Episode 8 of the Pipeline Podcast features marketing leader, Emily Carrion with Rubica. Emily shares how she navigated the change from working for a B2B organization to a B2C company. Emily’s vast experience in the Seattle startup scene provides great insight into what marketing professionals should consider when evaluating their next startup, or whether a startup is even the right fit for them. Emily and Joe talk about the importance of mentorship and the understanding that it is not a one-sided relationship, but rather a mutual exchange of value. Give the 25 minute interview a listen and let us know what you think by using #pipelinepod.
Read the full interview transcript below:
J: Welcome to Banzai Pipeline Podcast. Today we’re here with Emily Carrion. Emily is the chief marketing officer at Rubica which is a very interesting cybersecurity company that she’s going to tell us all about it. It’s a B2C company. Before that Emily’s been in lead marketing roles at five different B2B tech companies in the Seattle area. She’s got a really wide-ranging background, a lot of different experiences to share. Emily thank you so much for doing this with us today.
E: Thanks for having me Joe.
J: Tell us a little bit about your new company, your new role. Why did you choose to go there?
E: Oh man that’s a big question. Keep me on my toes. Let’s see. There’s quite a lot I’ve learned and there’s quite a lot of difference between get to see and B2B companies. I picked Rubica for a couple different reasons. Cybersecurity, as you can imagine is a massively growing field. What I found out is that most of the solutions are for enterprise. They’re just for the million-dollar deals. You have to have a big company to be able to really protect yourselves. What Rubica is doing is they’re taking that technology and bringing it to the consumer so that we can all protect ourselves. With all these crazy enterprise hacks we’ve heard about, Equifax and Target and Uber. It just seems like a really big opportunity to go after and the company is doing a big pivot. We had been selling to the high net worth individuals and then realized that there’s a much bigger opportunity. I’ve been there about a month and just thrown off the deep end and we’re already working on our consumer launch. We’ve launched a brand-new website, a brand-new app. As a marketer these are like all very sexy things that I get to come in and help with very quickly. It’s been really fun.
J: There are a lot of companies that are in that security space. So how do guys fit into that landscape?
E: Yeah that’s a great question. One that I have been working on a lot lately. There are a lot less cybersecurity companies an individual a personal cybersecurity space than you might think. Our software basically covers a lot of them. So like identity theft, malware, antivirus. It’s used through VPN technology to protect your privacy. Once you download Rubica onto all your devices, we protect you. The big difference is it’s not just software. We also have a room full of cybersecurity experts that are proactively looking for threats. Anytime they see an anomaly on your device they look into it. We have former Navy former and MI6, former you name it, all the three letter agencies we have some of the best and brightest who are actually looking at your anonymous data of course but they’re looking for these threats and then we get to actually find threats before a lot of other companies do. And then so we’re protecting you before the threat happens versus some of the other companies they protect your identity after identity is stolen. Well personally I’d rather prevent that and not go through that headache than to fix it after the fact. So that’s how we’re different
J: At Rubica, you’ve been working with the consumer market. How have you found that to be different than working with more B2B market?
E: Yeah. A lot of things are really different. One of the first things I noticed is my instinct around pricing was off for the B2C market. In B2B as you’re growing your product offering, you start at one price and then as your software gets better you raise the price because you can show more value. And B2C you need to start with the ceiling price and then you can you know have offers and bring it down but you can’t keep raising it. So that was a big aha. And another one is the funnel, the speed. In B2B, when you’re selling six figure deals. It could take nine months. You might be OK with that. And it’s also a very high touch. So maybe a lot of people are involved in that sale. When you’re selling 40 dollar a month subscription, we need to really limit the human interaction to get the deal closed. So it’s this kind of balance between how do we differentiate ourselves by having an incredible experience through the buying process but also have the right cost associated so that we can actually make money. Then customer success is also different. I’m used to very high touch like putting on conferences. We just have to do it at a different scale. How do you automate in a personalized way or how do you create experiences for groups of people so they can still have that high touch personal experience where you can still make money?
J: Because if you have to pick up the phone and talk to somebody you’ve just blown the profit for that month. They can’t do it every month.
E: Now it’s like we’re in the big learning phase. If we do one of those, do we keep you for longer? And if we can keep you for three years because we had that call you better believe we’re going to have that call. It’s where it’s a really fun stage of the company because we’re in this constant learning mode.
J: Do you find that it’s more direct response? For example people have to get all of their information about the product, about the benefits, features, et cetera from the marketing materials and respond by making a quick purchasing decision instead of being able to get the sales reps to fill in the blanks, which I think anybody who’s in marketing we can all own up to that is like we’ve occasionally said, oh you know well we could build a dock on this but like the sales reps get it.
E: It’s a really good point because we don’t have that fill in the blank human right. It’s a lot more pressure on getting the messaging right. I would love to give you the answer to that in six months once I know. It’s brand new. We just launched the first version of our website. We’re launching a first version of our ads and then I really believe in this test and iterate process. In six months, I’ll be able to tell you where we landed and what we learned. You have to do a lot more selling through video or through words or through emotion ahead of time and make it simple.
J: What have you found to be the factors when you’re looking at you know a B2B startup B2C startup. What are the factors you’re looking for when you’re evaluating that company?
L: Yeah this is probably the question I get asked the most. I’m asked how do I evaluate a startup and how do I find a startup?
J: And I wish I’d thought of that question too.
E: I’ll answer the how to find a startup because a lot of people I found are looking to transition and startups are really hot right now. When I was in grad school like no one really knew what an entrepreneur was and now Elon Musk is like superhuman and we’re all infatuated with entrepreneurship.
J: That’s true. It was the same experience for me. Yeah, it’s really part of the culture now.
E: Absolutely and people want to know how do I break in? Where I tell people to start is on the GeekWire200. GeekWire is our startup tech press and they put together a list of the 200 startups in the area, in the Pacific Northwest. And you can filter by B2B, B2C, which industry you like. Say you work for T-Mobile today. You’re probably have an expertise in wireless, you know something about customer experience. Find a startup that has some semblance to where you already have experience so then you could filter. OK I want to B2C a company that does hardware for example and then you’d see that there are 11 startups in Seattle that are in that area. OK well then now go reach out to those people. Reach out to them on LinkedIn and be like, “Hey I’m just really curious about your business.” You could even consider doing a mini project with them to see how you could help them out. And then in terms of thinking about to evaluate whether making a leap to a startup is the right fit, there’s a lot to evaluate. You need to understand why. Like what are your reasons? Are you going to get rich? Are you going because you want more autonomy or are you going because you want to learn? What are your personal reasons?
E: Depending on that, you’re going to pick a very different stage startup or a very different group of founders or a different level of risk. For me startups were amazing. Like ever since grad school I’ve been working at startups because I realized that some of my most important values are autonomy. I want to see how what I did today makes a difference. I have no interest, at least in my current situation, I have no interest in building a widget that maybe will never even ship to the actual product. I want to see how what I do turns the ship. At a startup if you’re one of six people you better believe that what you’re doing is going to turn the ship. Also, the ability to learn. I’m obsessed with learning. I get bored so I want to always be doing something where I can really contribute because I have an expertise but then always adding on the stretch projects. If you love change, startups are great.
J: Which is why so many people hate startups right.
E: That’s something back to the evaluation. If you don’t know that about yourself, then you could still go to a startup but maybe you’re going to a much later stage startup where they’ve already got a bunch of processes figured out. You wouldn’t go to like less than 10 people where you’re going to buy your laptops, you’re putting together your desk, you’re writing those contracts, you’re doing everything because there’s no one else to do it. In terms of understanding your why, why you’re interested in what you want to do, that is so imperative that you end up at the right stage startup. I can tell you that in my career, the stage changes because your life changes. When you’re single, maybe you don’t have a significant other. You can maybe work more hours and maybe that’s something that you’re interested in. I can tell you I’m not interested in working every weekend. Family is really important to me. It’s ok. Also, it’s ok if this Y changes. These are some of the things that you want to evaluate. So, it’s understanding your why, it’s understanding your risk tolerance.
J: And being realistic about that too, right? I think a lot of people want to be a certain way. I know that I have this vision of myself of the way I would like to be. Everybody does. And then the way that I actually am.
E: And how do you actually thrive. I would also say that it’s OK if you get it wrong. I haven’t always made the right match of landing at the right place. I was at a place for three months because it was a great company, but I knew on day two that something wasn’t quite right. I just didn’t feel the pace was what I was looking for it was actually too slow. And at the time I wanted the home run. Like you’re going to bet you’re going to work really hard and invent something for the future. I want us to win, and the pace we were moving, I didn’t think we were going to get there. It’s like these opportunity costs. So, I took a risk and I was like look you know it’s okay to trust yourself and know, I’m not saying like go somewhere for three months like all the time. But you also can know if something’s right or wrong for you. And it’s probably better for you and the company if you have that come to Jesus before everyone is miserable.
J: What was it about marketing that drew you in.
E: What’s funny is the worst grade I got in school is in marketing. Marketing, at least at Seattle U at the time, was like Ford marketing, L’Oréal marketing, like these super existing brands. And what I found is that startup marketing is so innovative. That’s what I got so drawn to. Whatever I’m doing now, a lot of it isn’t going to be working in six months. The channels might not be working, or they might be too expensive, or the customer might have moved or so much has changed. I think why I love startup marketing is because it’s all about change and that’s where I thrive. I thrive in figuring it out. It’s constantly about, OK when I’m thinking about my marketing mix, this is what’s working today. But I’m always testing new channels. I’m always looking for what’s next because I know something’s going to fall off of my plans and it’s going to stop working. I always have to be ready for that with the next thing. So that is what is so fun to me is that we’re always like figuring out the next thing and discovering what’s going to work and that’s really where I thrive, in this, “well we don’t know yet. Go figure it out.” I love that.
J: Right. In marketing, I’ve always felt like there’s always another hill to climb. In sales you figure out your process and then it’s really just about scaling it. There are things that you add in like you can add in better systems and training and support, but a lot of it is just about trying to get more bodies to understand your product you understand your customers. Whereas with marketing, it’s like okay first we’ve just got to figure out how to generate some leads. Well now we’ve got to figure out like our basic core messaging. Well now we’ve got to figure out her ideal customer profile. Well now we’ve got to figure out our brand messaging. Now we’ve got to figure out how to add in our CEO and our advertising and our retargeting.
E: Or how do we keep these customers? The layers is really fun to me. You work with every single person in the company. You’re working with HR on employer brand. You’re working with engineering to build the website and make sure your product is great. You’re working with sales intimately because sales is the best teacher for marketing. I love sitting right next to salespeople and literally listening to the words they’re using and looking to the nods on the other side. If I can see someone nodding on the phone that copy should immediately get on the website, if we’ve got a good loop. I think that collaboration and that listening and working across the org is so fun. I think it kind of is like my two favorite things in one, so then I stayed. Like this is the right home for me.
J: Yeah. That’s awesome. How have you found mentors? Who have been some of the mentors that have had an impact on you and what are those impacts and then how have you tried to instill that in the companies that you work with or the people that work for you?
E: I love this. Probably my favorite thing to talk about. The way I learn is by talking to people, listening to people, and learning from the potholes they’ve avoided or the mines that they’ve avoided. When I moved from Mixpo, which is ad tech. I was actually their director of communication. So very lone wolf role. From there I moved to the director of marketing at Apptentive where I’m going to lead a team and basically build a marketing team from scratch. This is the job I like always wanted. And I actually was hired by my mentee. He is who found me, recruited me, and brought me on. It’s so interesting mentorship works both ways. I had helped him land it Apptentive a couple months before. I helped him prep for the interview I helped him vet the company. And then he called me and he was like Emily our CMO just left. And he’s like two months into his first job out of college and he’s like what do I do? It’s like, let’s go grab lunch. We went and grabbed lunch. He brought this big list of everything he was going to work on, and I was like OK what two things on that list are the most important. He looked at it and looked at it and he’s like I think these two. That’s what you’re going to do in November. Two things. And he’s like Oh. Once you finish those two add the third but just focus on doing things and doing them well. Then you call me anytime. I’ll help you process through this. And he’s like wait would you want a job? Would you want to come work with me? H e made an intro to the CEO and I think a month later I started or two months later I started. You just never know. Mentorship can go both ways. But then once I took this job, it was definitely a stretch role for me. Like I had managed teams at Point Inside before but very different and I had never built a marketing engine basically from scratch. We had just raised our Series A. We had to build lead gen. We needed a new version of the website. We like that list you mentioned earlier we needed it all. what I did is basically I made a list of all the top marketers in Seattle that were B2B and that were not competitors. And I literally cold emailed them and I was like, “Hey my name’s Emily. I just got my first role as director of marketing. I really admire your work there. Any chance I could take you to coffee. Just a half hour. These are the some of the things I’d like to talk to you about.”
J: There’s such an MBA approach to solving this problem I love it. I absolutely love it. Okay. This is great.
E: One of my really good friends, Aashish. He was leading marketing at Liquid Planner at the time. He said yes. He helped me build out the marketing dashboard. I talked to him, I talked to Michelle who is at Guidant now. But she was at a different company at the time. And what was fascinating to me is as much as I thought I was just going to learn from them, each of them had something that I could add value to r. Like Michelle for example is like I’m evaluating marketing automation software. What do you recommend? It’s like oh I can help with that. I just evaluated these three and here’s why I went with Hubspot and the like. She’s like I also really need design resources, like I have three great ones. Let me send you. It ended up being a very mutual exchange of value where I thought I was going to just be this taker of value. So that was a big aha for me is to remember that this is a two-way street. Dave, Aashish, Michelle, at the time we’d meet like almost every quarter. Just to catch up and be like hey what channels are working for you? LinkedIn’s not working for me as well anymore. Are you finding the same thing? They’d be like oh yeah, the price has gone way up. We’ve done this instead. They’d be like, OK you’re really good at events we’re trying to do our first meetup. What should I know? We would just do this value exchange with peers. And talk about a way to vet everything and then trust your decision when you bring it back to the org. Because you’re like, yeah, I just vetted this was the three smartest people I know. And we’re not competitive so we’re going to be honest with each other.
So that was really huge. Tat peer to peer, call it mentoring, call it what you want, that has been huge for me. And then the other thing that’s been huge is I have mentors like Dave Parker who think of me years ahead of where I’ve caught up. He’s been talking like someday you’re going to be one of the top B2B marketers in Seattle. I’m like, what? I just became a director of marketing. Like how could that possibly be me? It’s people who think of you higher and they open doors for you. He offered me my first board seat at a startup. I’m going to be on Lumeric’s board. That is an incredible opportunity to get to experience. That’s where someone is not only mentoring you, they’re sponsoring you, they’re opening doors, they’re creating seats for you. You literally get to leapfrog whereas otherwise that might have taken me five, 10 more years to build those relationships if I was just doing it on my own right,
J: This has been really really nice. I’ve really enjoyed this. I feel like I’ve learned a lot and the guys gained a whole different perspective. This is really interesting. Thank you so much for doing this.
E: Thanks for having. This has been really fun.
J: How should they reach you?
E: On Twitter I’m @Emily_Carrion. Then I’m on LinkedIn, same thing. The nice thing about my new name versus my maiden name is I’m the only Emily Carrion versesthere are tons of Emily Marshalls. We just launched Rubica.com atoday and we’re on any social media channel.
J: Cool. Go check out Rubica and follow Emily. Email her. Connect with her. Emily thanks again so much for doing.
E: Thanks for having me Joe