Natasha Kelly started working at SketchUp in 2005 as a marketing manager (an affiliations which gave her “celebrity” status at trade shows she soon found out) and then in 2006 became a part of Google through the @Last Software acquisition. After a year of continuing with the original SketchUp team that she said was never quite “Googlized” she then moved to Google’s product marketing team a year later, flying to Mountain View from Boulder once or twice a month. In 2012, she decided to stick around the Boulder startup community, taking up a role at Precog and then eventually at her current love: SolidFire. Built In Colorado caught up with Kelly to find out why she is so passionate about SolidFire:
What stands out to you from your time at Google?
As the Google Earth marketing manager, I was the only person at Google dedicated to market Google Earth. I also led the Norad Tracks Santa program, which is probably the thing I am most proud of at Google. I worked with Norad down in Colorado Springs and led the program, which draws millions (almost a billion) users. So children are able to track Santa live on Christmas so we were using the Google Map, Google Earth API to show his route. So we were the ones who came up with his route, so I was able to deliver presents in Boulder! There was an immense amount of work put into this program: the technology behind it is incredible and the press coverage it got was enormous.
How do you leverage the skills you learned at Google in your current role at SolidFire?
Every day I am using something that I learned at Google. With startups, everybody is moving so quickly, just trying to get their job done. I think that’s something that I learned at Google: how to survive a process-driven, corporate environment where if you don’t push your way through all of the distraction and all of the blocks, it’s easy to get bogged down. You learn how to be thick-skinned and tough and ask for what you want and not let other people tell you what you can and cannot do. And also, organization: I learned all of my product management skills at Google.
Now at SolidFire, we are growing like crazy. (I want to put it out there that we are hiring!) Now that we are growing, I am starting to build out teams of experts within the marketing team. My day-to-day differs: it’s extremely fast-paced. I would even say I’m busier than I was at Google and it’s great because I’m managing people, but then there’s also strategy and planning with Jay Prassl on any product launches, partner announcements. And then I oversee and manage those projects themselves.
What’s coming up for SolidFire in 2014?
We have some really exciting things happening. On the marketing front, we’ve got a new website launching. We are working with an agency in town called Grenadier. We are also hosting an event in Mountain View for our customers; we are organizing the event ourselves. It will be drawing over 100 people to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View for partners and customers. We will also be announcing the next generation of our operating system in the spring as well.
What do you want the Colorado startup community to know about SolidFire?
We are 130 employees, but I kind of feel like SolidFire is this little hidden gem on Pearl Street because we didn’t come through TechStars and we are working on getting more involved in the community, but I don’t feel like people know a lot about us. I want people to know that we still consider ourselves a startup, we have over 30 customers and we’re doing extremely well. We are moving in a very good direction.