Meet Torchlite’s Susan Marshall

Writer  /  Kara Kavensky

Photographer  /  Brian Brosmer

“Who knew there was a burgeoning tech community in Indianapolis?” said Susan Marshall after moving back to Indianapolis. Marshall took a hiatus from the west coast with her husband to raise their three children in the Midwest. Marshall, a Brebeuf grad, studied at Denison University and began working in the tech industry during the early 90s.

“I just jumped in,” says Marshall, who has spent 25 years in the tech realm. During the early days, her focus was product management and marketing where she led product teams. Their mission was how to position, price and how to go to market with a tech product. She worked with Macromedia, which created Dreamweaver and Flash.

Marshall pivoted to product development, working on a team with Apple (seven years) during the Steve Jobs come back. At that time, Apple had 3 to 5 percent market share and no one was building software for the MAC. Jobs decided he was going to build his own. Jobs was involved in the day to day architecting for iPhoto and iMovie.

“We worked on his floor and directly under his leadership,” Marshall says. “Jobs was the uber software manager, and he got to peak intensity, up until launch of the iPhone.”

Marshall described the experience like working for a small startup within a big company because they were the software division for Apple, which did not have a software division before. The Apple retail stores were just coming online during that time.

Upon moving back to Indiana, Marshall built the product marketing team at ExactTarget, leading up to the acquisition by Salesforce.

“That’s where I learned the SaaS biz model, digital marketing and how it’s impacting businesses,” says Marshall, who also learned the challenges marketers experience to get their work done.

When Salesforce was acquired, Marshall was traveling around the world doing huge events, including world tours, 10k London, 5k in Montreal, with Marshall speaking in each city. She was hearing the same feedback wherever she went, which was, “I have bought your entire marketing cloud, and named 15 tools, but I still don’t have the resources to get all of this done.”

“Many people were frustrated,” Marshall says. “These companies may not be able to afford an expensive marketing agency, as they may not need all of their services, but were paying for them.”

Torchlite® was born from these circumstances. They bring together teams of individuals needed to ensure success for marketing needs but utilizing only what they need.

To create a balanced team, Torchlite organizes talented individuals, making it easier to collaborate on projects. Most businesses cannot afford to hire 10 specialists, or cannot find the specialists that they need to get their work done. Torchlite redefines marketing by tapping into freelance resources, making it easier to assign tasks across their diverse team.

This is how Marshall came up with the idea of the Torchlite® concept, the light at the end of the tunnel for a company’s marketing needs.

“When Susan first described the concept to me, it was like finding the puzzle piece that marketing has been missing,” shares Shawn Herring, Torchlite® co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer. “She had a vision that was going to redefine how marketing teams operate.”

Culture is a focus for Torchlite® and their 25 employees and 250 freelancers. They accept only 10 percent of the resumes they receive. The key is finding good people. With an open, collaborative atmosphere both in office and online with their freelancers, Torchlite ensures their employees and contractors have ownership over their work.

“They are the CEOs of their own day to day,” Marshall says. “We just hire very smart people and keep a solid vision of where we are going and make sure we have the resources to get there.”

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