This is a transcribed interview of a conversation between Current CEO Elaina Atallah ’16 and CWiB Founder/Past CEO Carly Keller ’13.
EA: Could you explain what you do now at Scoot?
CK: I am the User Acquisition Manager for Scoot Networks. We rent electric mopeds in San Francisco and we are really targeted at commuters and people who would use Scoot to fit into their everyday life. Mopeds in general are not a huge market in in the US, so it has been really interesting to watch in terms of the green-tech community and transportation. We are doing something really interesting where we are affordable; it’s two dollars per half hour, we are clean because they are all electric vehicles, and you can get around faster than anything because you can get through traffic and you don’t need to worry about parking. We allow one-way trips so we are not asking you to rent a vehicle and keep it all day; we are just making your trip possible.
My role at Scoot is focused on the piece of marketing that is centered on both awareness and getting people to sign up and use our service. The key for me is to tell as many people as I can about Scoot. Once they try it and they fall in love with the service, my counterpart is responsible for marketing communications and engagement. She is the one emailing and putting out new features in the app, communicating all the cool new things Scoot is doing and convincing people to continue riding. If you look at a marketing funnel, the top of the funnel is awareness, the next level is acquisition, then you have engagement, and retention is to make sure they continue to be interested in your product. That funnel is split in half at Scoot. The top of the funnel is my responsibility and the bottom half is Sofi’s (her counterpart). That way we can use the same channels: social media, email, in-person events, digital advertising, retargeting, PR to serve different needs and help us succeed as a business. I came from Chegg where I was on a team of thirty-five doing marketing. Everyone was a specialist. I was one of the few generalists covering a lot of different channels for one part of our business. Now I am on a team of two, where we do everything.
Day-to-day, I spend my time on everything from planning and executing events, to scheduling interviews and thinking about our PR strategy, getting articles about Scoot written in various news outlets. I also manage our marketing website, which is where you would go to do some research on Scoot. I also manage the sign-up flow, so once someone signs up for Scoot, we get them all the way to the point that they pay for their sign-up.
EA: Besides going from a team at Chegg that was much larger to a team at Scoot that was much smaller, what were the major challenges that you faced?
CK: So there are new challenges and there are challenges that have gone away. So the fact that I’m on a team of twenty full-time employees at Scoot, that means my boss is the CEO and I work directly with the entire company to get different things done. Anyone that has a challenge or recommendation can come straight to me or I can go straight to someone else. So it cuts out a lot of the running in circles that you tend to do at a larger company. At the same time, since there are only twenty people, your plate is a lot more full with all the different possibilities of what we could be doing because your job covers a huge portion of the business, and it can’t be super specified. You have to be really disciplined about what is a priority and how you are going to manage your time. You also have to be much more realistic about how much money you can spend, what kind of people can you hire, (or) how many people we can sign up in a week. I do my own forecasting and analytics (to measure) how we are performing in marketing. It is really powerful and fun for me, but it is also not what you would see at any larger sized company. (I) knew that this is what I wanted. I wanted to be somewhere small, scrappy, with not a lot of baggage in terms of company history. I learned a ton at Chegg about how to run a marketing organization, what the structure of a well-run team looks like and how you work with other parts of the company. I am using that in my day-to-day work now but it is a very different story (then my day-to-day at Chegg). I am not meeting with fifteen to twenty people in a day; I am working closely with three to five people over many weeks. I don’t go to meeting after meeting; we have one conference room. I meet with people in the kitchen and sit on scooters in the mechanic shop. A meeting doesn’t start at ten and end at ten-thirty. We meet for a couple hours and really knock something out. It is just really different.
Another thing we should probably talk about: I did my first real job search other than internship searches starting this past year. I spent four months. I didn’t want to rush it. I wanted to find the right opportunity. I didn’t want to be worried about leaving Chegg and not having picked the right place. You make your second step and it’s not like an internship where you get to leave in four months. You are there to stay, so I wanted to be really careful about it. The first month are two started with a lot of coffee with people I haven’t seen in a while, people who had left Chegg, people who I knew from Colgate. I wasn’t networking in terms of some huge event; it was a lot of “Hey would you like to grab coffee? I am looking for my next opportunity and would love to talk to you.” I had probably six or seven coffee or drinks meetings a week for two months. A lot of those started to turn into references to people or companies. I didn’t really apply to any formal job listings. There were a couple (of) companies where I applied to the listing, but not until after I had spoken to someone at the company. That, in my opinion, is the only qualified way you can put yourself out there, because you actually know that someone is going to look at your resume and you have done everything in your power to ensure that you are a viable candidate. There were probably twenty companies on my list by early March. I interviewed with various companies and was really judicious about which companies were a good fit and which ones I needed to let go of. It is really great to be excited about every opportunity that comes your way, but at some point you have to make a decision about what is actually a good fit for you and what is just exciting. All of a sudden I got an email from Scoot and saw this job listing. I had never thought about working for Scoot, but I loved the company. I sent in my application and got a response that night from the person hiring for the job that happened to be the CEO and came in and interviewed a couple days later. Everything lined up so I was able to make a decision and negotiate the offer. I left Chegg in mid-April and started at Scoot a week later.
EA: Working in tech in San Francisco, have you noticed any challenges specifically for women?
CK: Yes, but not in the ways that are truly present every day. What you will notice is more men typically in management positions, even in tech. There is a strong focus in being from a technical focus if you are a co-founder or if you have influence in the company because engineering drives so much of the company’s value. People in technical backgrounds are 70-90% male depending, on what part of the country you are in. There is this very immediate power dynamic where the people who are making a lot of money because their jobs are of great value are perpetuating the male power dynamic in the workplace.
You also have a bunch of women who are very good at finance, marketing, (and) communications. They are involved in many of the “liberal arts friendly” career paths. There is still a good mixture of men and women. I work on a team that is a 50/50 split, but it really depends (on) what part of the company you are talking about. Our entire engineering team is male, and we have one female mechanic. That stuff equality-wise is definitely interesting, but I don’t think it’s as much of a challenge as people would say. A lot of what needs to be fixed about women in the workplace revolves around childcare and maternity and paternity leave. A lot of tech companies have made headway on paternity leave and offered equivalent benefits for paternity leave. They realize that parents (who are) around for a child’s infancy are much more involved parents, share housework, all that sort of research. Obviously it is a really hot topic and is part of why I started Colgate Women in Business in the first place. It wasn’t just to provide opportunity to women; it was to provide a place to have discussions about these topics that are so important, and issues that people tell us we are going to face in the world. However, the club didn’t necessarily come from a place that was driven by those issues, but rather to have discussions about different career paths.