Branch-Out guest Kaite Rosa on Facing Failures

Waverley Knobs presents the Branch-Out Podcast with your hosts, Evin Charles Anderson and Tatiana Ivan. We discuss all the exciting facets of digital media and marketing for businesses and professionals. Our goal is to empower you so you can increase your knowledge, engagement, and brand identity. Let's get ready to branch out.

Listen to the full interview or read the transcript below:


 

EVIN ANDERSON:
Thank you for listening to Episode 23 of Branch-Out, the digital media and marketing podcast. Today, we have a very special guest in the studio: Kaite Rosa, who is the Director of Marketing and Content at VentureFizz. If you haven't heard of VentureFizz, we'll definitely dive more into that, but let me tell you, they have some fantastic material if you are a startup tech company in Boston especially with their Talent on the Move series as well as their Driven profile series. Kaite, thank you for coming in and talking with us. For people that aren't familiar with VentureFizz, could you introduce the company - as well as how you got involved?

KAITE ROSA:
VentureFizz is an online platform covering tech entrepreneurship and career inspiration focused entirely on companies here in Boston. We have one of the hottest job boards here in Boston with over 1,500 jobs for tech and startup companies and over 200 companies have a biz page with us, which is a place for them to not only feature their new roles, but also highlight their company culture.

EVIN ANDERSON:
It's such a great way of connecting people with these startups. Do you know where the original concept first formulated from?

KAITE ROSA:
Our founder, Keith Cline, started VentureFizz back in 2009. He - in his previous life if you will - was a recruiter for nearly 20 years, and he was working with all these really great interesting companies, and finding out all these unique stories and meeting really innovative people, and he wanted a place to - like you said - create that community, highlight the interesting things that people are doing and that their companies are doing so: he started VentureFizz. It was a little bit of a side project for a couple of years for him and then in about 2012, 2013, he really started to ramp up his efforts with it.

TATIANA IVAN:
Before you were at VentureFizz, you worked for a lot of different companies: Virgin Pulse, Lionbridge, Brafton. What made you decide to join VentureFizz?

KAITE ROSA:
I came into VentureFizz by way of Virgin Pulse, which is a health tech company out in Framingham. I was there for about two and a half years as senior marketing communications manager. I got to work on some really exciting projects and I saw the company through a rebrand. They were growing very rapidly. Last May, they secured $93 million in funding.

TATIANA IVAN:
Wow!

KAITE ROSA:
It was really great. There were a lot of really exciting projects to work on and I learned a ton in a relatively short amount of time. I stayed on with the company for about six months thereafter, but I really missed that early stage growth opportunity aspect of working on a startup, so I connected with Keith. The role that I'm in now was just the perfect next step for me, and it was interesting to me to go back to more of my journalism roots, which is what I initially did professionally, and here we are.

EVIN ANDERSON:
What were some of the concepts or skills that you took away from that past experience that you've brought over to VentureFizz?

KAITE ROSA:
The kind of marketing that we were doing, that I was doing on previous teams - we were edgy I guess. Part of that came with the Virgin brand. We had the ability to do that, but one thing that rang true across everything that we did was: don't let fear of failure stop you from trying. When it came to marketing strategies, if you have a good idea, we're going to vet it as a team and make sure it has some legs that it can stand on, but just go out and do it. Give it a try and if it fails along the way, then you either evolve it or you learn from it and move on. If it's really successful, then see how we build on that and how do we make that scalable and grow it. That was one of the big takeaways from previous roles that I'm aiming to apply to VentureFizz.

Another one - and this is a little bit more personally, but I like to live and work by - it's actually a Facebook mantra: "Done is better than perfect." Sheryl Sandberg writes about it in Lean In and when I read that, it really resonated with me. I think I'm a little bit of a type A... maybe more than a little bit of a type A... the want to feel like everything needs to be perfect all the time can hold me back. I've certainly worked with people who've been held back from everything. I try to keep that in mind. Don't let the quest for perfection hold you back from actually getting out there.

TATIANA IVAN:
Those are two great tips just for entrepreneurs in general. Don't let the quest for perfection just stop you from getting out there and also, don't let the fear of failure stop you. If you have an idea, try it out. We certainly, in our company, have had both of those things all the time, too: "Will this work? I don't know. Let's try it. Let's see what happens, it's not 100% perfect. Let's just get it out there and we can fix as we go or course correct along the way."

EVIN ANDERSON:
I know, too, that when we talked to Dave Gerhardt from Tech In Boston, he had mentioned, too: there is no perfect recipe. What he does for success, or anyone else does for success, doesn't mean will work for you as well. The best thing to do is as you mentioned - just go out and see what works and see what fails and learn from the experience and try to take away all the strong points and continue on through it, and that's all you really can do. It's like a marathon. It's not a quick sprint by any means.

KAITE ROSA:
That's so true. I think we've been, as marketers, conditioned to look for all of these best practices and they might apply in a couple of cases, but what works for you, they may not work at this company. It's always about just getting out there and trying and seeing what sticks and what doesn't.

EVIN ANDERSON:
Now, with your past experiences, expertise, what do you think are common situations or frequent issues that companies within the Boston tech community tend to face?

KAITE ROSA:
What we were actually just talking about I think really ties into this. I think that everybody is looking for these "quick hit solutions" to their problems, whether it's marketing, whether it's employee engagement, whether it's customer success, we've been conditioned to narrow in on what these "best practices" or "hacks" or whatever you want to call it are. But not everything works for everyone else and that's just the fact of the matter. You've got to be willing to test and to fail, and to glean those results and those teachings from your failures.

Another thing that I see a lot is, as companies are scaling, they're having issues scaling their culture and that's definitely top of mind. It's something that we have people contributing about on VentureFizz pretty frequently. It's something that at my previous role we heard from our clients there all the time. I think the problem comes from the fact that when you're scaling your startup, when you're growing your startup, you're putting all of this energy into that and into finding the right resources and the solutions and really working with your customers. Often, you may not necessarily be focusing on scaling your culture and growing your culture until it's too late, and people start leaving your company and your culture.

I think it's really important for companies to keep their people top of mind and create people-focused cultures and strategies. You see a lot of companies doing this by, "Oh, we have a ping pong table in the break room." Ping pong tables are cool, that's great, and perks like that are really fun, but you can't just do that and call it a day. That's not really going to solve the actual problem. I think that this actually goes back to testing and seeing what sticks. Take that approach with your people and with the culture that you want to create in your company, and keep evolving that because while a ping pong table may be great at some of the larger companies or the company down the street, it may not be what... your employees may care less about it.

EVIN ANDERSON:
It sounds like it's important to do your own internal marketing research with your employees and just say, "Okay, what is the situation like for you? What do you enjoy? What do you dislike and how can we improve as a culture in order to have you be in the best environment possible?"

KAITE ROSA:
Absolutely.

TATIANA IVAN:
Considering that VentureFizz focuses a lot on an industry that is constantly changing and evolving, do you have any theories or thoughts as to where you see marketing going that could assist with some of those situations and the issues that you just touched on?

KAITE ROSA:
I think that we're going to see more companies investing in a HR-marketing hybrid because companies - they're marketing to their customers, they're marketing to their candidates - but that experience isn't always the same and the messaging isn't always the same, and it's really important for those to be unified across the board. Likewise, I think we see a lot of companies where they might have a great candidate marketing experience, right? Their recruitment marketing might be fantastic, but then that doesn't extend into the employees so that goes back to the cultural problem. I think it's really cyclical and I think we're going to see more companies investing in their internal marketing efforts.

EVIN ANDERSON:
The opportunity to broaden their horizons and strengthen their knowledge base, that can get people to want to stay and want to be with your company because they appreciate it because they are being given different opportunities that they might not otherwise experience in any other kind of culture or company.

KAITE ROSA:
Yes, that's so true.

TATIANA IVAN:
It's good to be well rounded, too, just so you know how to communicate with somebody in a different area or in a different department, you understand where they're coming from, what they need from you and so on and so forth.

KAITE ROSA:
Exactly.

TATIANA IVAN:
It's definitely very useful. I think it was Richard Branson - but that might be wrong? - he said that there's not just entrepreneurs, but there's intrapreneurs, and it's those types of employees in the company that have that entrepreneurial mindset where they're doing a little bit of everything, or they want to learn and they want to help the company and they want to help the team and they want to all grow together.

On VentureFizz, there's a very active job board for the Boston tech scene and with that, you said there was 1,500 new jobs there. What are some of the new companies that you're really excited about working with on that?

KAITE ROSA:
This ties in my interests that had led me to Virgin Pulse - I'm personally interested in health and wellbeing - so, one company, Drafted. It's an employee referral app. If you are at a corporation and internally you refer someone to HR for a role, eventually, you get a bonus, right, but often, the whole process is very -- it goes into a big black box. You don't really know what's going on. Is your friend, are they going to get the role? With all of these different questions it just makes the process a lot easier for the employee to manage and for HR, and it also taps the external community. You may know about my company because we're sitting here having this conversation and maybe you know someone who would be great on my team, but maybe you wouldn't typically refer them because you're not an internal employee or whatever, and this just helps facilitate these different conversations and lets companies broaden their reach basically.

TATIANA IVAN:
It sounds like both of those companies are all about connecting people with the resources that they need, which is nice.

KAITE ROSA:
Hadn't even made the connection, but you're right. They are. At the end of the day, that is exactly what they do.

EVIN ANDERSON:
It's fitting, that's what you're doing for them as well with this job board, you're connecting them with resources, too.

TATIANA IVAN:
It's all very meta.

KAITE ROSA:
A light bulb just went off. You're right. Yeah, all about connecting people and helping the communities.

EVIN ANDERSON:
I think that's where I've been seeing a lot of different companies go to: how can we offer you a service or how can we get you the resources that you need and easier. I can't remember the actual trend that they call it now, but companies like Drizly and a few other ones where you could order let's say alcohol and they'll deliver it to you, but it's all the service industry type of stuff where they can connect you with the right resources within the perfect amount of time, with the least amount of inconvenience. And people are loving those now, whether they're applications or websites or what have you, and it seems to be huge, especially talking about the tech community because a lot of it is purely tech based, all through apps. I think it first really kicked off with things like Uber, for instance, and how much that picked up and everyone else has jumped on and went, "We can really do a lot with this."

KAITE ROSA:
It's interesting that you bring that up. I have written a lot since I've been with VentureFizz about these, for lack of a better term, "on-demand" service applications and companies. I think it's definitely a growing trend. I personally think that much of the problem goes back to a behavior economics theory: the paradox of choice. We have all these choices thanks to the internet, right, and that sounds great, but at the end of the day, if you have to come through 25 million results to find the best place to go to lunch, you're not going to. I personally, at least, would much rather have three choices and I think that a lot of these services are helping either eliminate choice or narrow down choices to make things easier for people.

EVIN ANDERSON:
I think that right there, that's just a perfect, I would say, bit of wisdom for people to think on - especially as they're starting up a company. What can they offer and how can they make it as easy as possible to utilize? I think that yeah, if you don't make it easy, people are going to tune it out and they're going to ignore you. You could be the best application ever, the best company or best service, but if you don't make it simple for people to understand and to interact with, you're going to lose people instantly.

KAITE ROSA:
So true. I say that a lot when people ask me about advice for writing, especially from non-writers. I think a lot of people are almost stuck in that 10th grade mentality of writing a five-paragraph essay and so often I'll be reading something and it's like, "What are you actually trying to say? By the style and tone that you're using is making it more difficult to understand." I think that you see that a lot in ... Take a look at the marketing emails that you get. I'm sure you guys, you get a million of them and so often it's, "Wait, so what are you actually trying to tell me?" I think especially as marketers, we need to really focus more on getting our message out there.

EVIN ANDERSON:
I think this is a great segue into our WoW segment, our Words of Wisdom segment. Now, we know you do mentoring for the youth through the John Andrew Mazie Mentoring Program and it's to assist students against adversity on their path to success. With this, we thought this would be a perfect segment for you. Now, if you were speaking to someone trying to break out into their respective industry, but they just didn't know where to start, what would be your marketing words of wisdom for them?

KAITE ROSA:
Through the Mazie Foundation, the Mazie Mentoring Program, I'm partnered with a high school student and we have been for the past couple of years. When she was starting to enter it must've been her junior year and thinking about colleges and her possible career path, she thought she knew where she wanted to go, but she wasn't entirely sure. I really encouraged her to sit down and have real meaningful conversations with people doing what she wanted to do. With the example of my mentee, she wanted to go into health and wellbeing. She really thought she wanted to go into personal training at the time. We sat down and talked to someone who was a personal trainer and did an informational interview and then, we also sat down and talked with someone who was a nutrition professor. Her perception was completely flipped and she realized that she did want to go into nutrition.

I think it's really important to sit down and have conversations with a broad scope of people within the industry that you think you want to be in and then, I think it's also important to take, I don't want to say as many opportunities as you can, but a variety of opportunities to help expose you to the different areas that you could go in.

EVIN ANDERSON:
There seems to be a common thread in our conversations, too, going back to experiencing the broad, having a broad perspective and just trying to take in as much information as you can, whether it's understanding the industry from a broad perspective so you know how to communicate with one another and just understand where the industry's going, to also taking in that broad perspective to see is this the right fit for me, or are we doing things the way we as an industry or as company want to go or do we need to change it up? I think having that broad view at first will really help you then narrow it down, but until you know all the options out there, it's very hard to narrow something down.

KAITE ROSA:
I think a good way to look at it, especially if someone's early on in their career or early on in industry, I think it's important to kind of initially drink from the fire hose if you will and then, like you said really narrow and refine your approach.

TATIANA IVAN:
Before we close out Episode 23 of Branch-Out, are there any other announcements or news that you want to share?

KAITE ROSA:
Yes. One of the areas that I've been growing since I've been on with VentureFizz is our profile series. We have a profile series called Driven and it focuses on the people that you may not necessarily hear about all the time and we're really trying to get at their unique individual stories. We've profiled a number of different people as part of the series and I'm looking to do more. I can certainly source my own individuals, but it's great to open up the door to a broader audience. If anyone is listening and knows someone who should be included in that who is in the Boston tech scene, I would encourage them to reach out to me.

EVIN ANDERSON:
As creators of stories ourselves, we can definitely appreciate a great story, especially an untold story that you may not otherwise have the opportunity to really understand and hear about. I think that's a fantastic opportunity for any entrepreneurs out there, any people who are really diving into the Boston tech scene and want to share their story of where they got to and how they got there.

Thank you very much, Kaite for joining us on Branch-Out today. We really appreciate your time and hopefully, our audience is just as excited as we are to have you here.

KAITE ROSA:
Thanks so much for having me. It was great.

EVIN ANDERSON:
Once again, this has been Episode 23 of Branch-Out, the digital media and marketing podcast. Make sure that if you love this episode today, we have a whole batch of other episodes to check out here as well. And hit that subscribe button and tell us what you love about our podcast. Until next time!

 

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Branch-Out: THE Digital Media & Marketing Podcast

Everything you need to tell your and your company's story in order to engage, empower & educate! Evin and Tatiana dive into all subjects that will assist you telling your story and increasing your audience engagement. They also bring in thought-leaders, entrepreneurs and trailblazers that are changing how we market and use digital media.

Guests include Dave Gerhardt (Tech in Boston and Drift), Dan Shure (EvolvingSEO, MOZ, Experts On The Wire), Kaite Rosa (VentureFizz), Shawn LaVana (TempAlert), Chris Kavakian (CK Realty Group) and David Pakman (The David Pakman Show).

Branch-Out Podcast

Hosted by Evin Charles Anderson & Tatiana Ivan

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