Office Hours: I am a marketing partner at Greylock and was formerly head of global communications at Hulu. I'm Elisa Schreiber.Featured

Hi everyone! I’m Elisa Schreiber, marketing partner at Greylock. I lead Greylock’s marketing and advise Greylock-backed entrepreneurs on strategic marketing and communications efforts. I am also a board director at Noodles & Company (NASDAQ: NDLS), and an advisory board member at All Raise. Prior to joining Greylock, I was head of global communications at Hulu, I led marketing and communications at the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, and was one of the producers of the first TEDx event. I also spent time as director of marketing at a digital media startup and I started my career at Edelman.I earned two B.A.s (communications & media studies, and visual arts) from UC San Diego and an M.B.A from the USC Marshall School of Business. Ask me anything about personal brand building and finding your voice as an investor, startup communications strategy, crisis communications, or about being effective on boards! :)
Thanks so much for joining us @ElisaSchreiber!Elphas – please ask @ElisaSchreiber your questions before Friday, October 30th. @ElisaSchreiber may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hi Elisa,I'd love to know your advice on positioning and strategic communications for different stages of a start up! How would you focus your strategic marketing and communications efforts for an early stage start ups (before gaining market acceptance) compared to a growing start up that's expanding its reach and trying to speak to more customer segments? What's fundamental to all strategic communications and what changes as the business grows? The balance between "niching down" and "scaling up" in communications is fascinating and I would really love to hear your thoughts on this! Thank you Elisa!Vicky
This is an excellent question. There are some foundational principles that never change. A great story about your company will succinctly capture 1) what you offer, 2) to whom, and 3) why you are different. Nailing this will set the path for every other decision you make going forward. -What you offer. This is a crisp and short description of the market need you are addressing.-To whom. Your customers need to be at the front and center in your story. You only exist because of them, and you were put on this planet to serve them.-Why you are different. This is not a list of features. Why you are different should describe who you are as a team, what you value, and what you believe. The story about why you are different will influence your company culture, your ability to recruit and retain the right talent, the services and products your team will create, and how your team behaves over the long term. Which in turn will impact the way people talk about you when you aren’t in the room — people like reporters, customers, partners, and investors.You always want high-quality, high value customers who love your product and are willing to tell their peers about it. You always want to define your value proposition clearly, and be explicitly about how you are unique and better than your competitors. And you always want to make sure you understand how your story fits into the broader landscape.This is the framework I use for the three stages of scaling: 1. From Founding to Product-Market FitAt this point, you are the company. You are pre- product-market fit. You are mapping the market to find the disruptive opportunity, the potential market size, and the competitors. Your only focus is on making it work. Marketing and communications should be focused on strategy, positioning, messaging as you launch and maintaining company presence in relevant conversations (press, conferences, social). 2. From Product-Market Fit to Hyper-GrowthThe only goal at this phase is to understand how to make your business repeatable and scalable. You are driving on the path to $10M in revenue or 10M users. If you have product-market fit, the business is repeatable and scalable, and the team knows how much fuel you need in order to make it go. You see the path to servicing thousands... millions... of customers, and serving them well. You are capacity constrained, not market constrained. Marketing and communications helps launch new products and fend off competitive attacks through strategic PR and brand work. You will likely hire an in-house marketing team and hire strategic agencies for leverage. 3. From Hyper Growth to MatureYou have crossed the critical point to more than $100M in revenue and you are now asking, “What's the path to a $1B in revenue?” The business is very predictable, and still growing. You are a global collection of multiple companies with ability to play across multiple product-market fit scenarios. Marketing and communications continues to amplify your story and provide strategic counsel, especially with international expansion, crisis, and IPO or M&A positioning.
Thank you Elisa, this has given me so much to think about!!
Hi @ElisaSchreiber,I greatly appreciate your time and willingness to answer questions about your marketing experience at Hulu and now at Greylock. I’m a big fan of Reid’s podcast and the work at Greylock!I’m looking for an extremely talented and passionate CMO to help scale my StartUp, You are techY, where we help moms gain the skills and confidence to get hired in the tech job of their dreams. I’m looking for a unique set of skills and experience in the B2C space who has an expanded visionary view of marketing, but is very happy to get her hands dirty with day-to-day work.How do you suggest I seek out and attract this talented individual?Many thanks for your time, Elisa!Best,Ellen[email protected]
Sounds like you are pursuing a fantastic mission at your company. The first thing you should do is nail down the top 3 things you **really need right now** from a marketing lead. A strong marketing lead will help your company with reach, leads, and new customers -- ultimately helping grow your total market share. Where are you in your startup journey, and what are the highest leverage areas for you to focus on right now? Is it customer acquisition? Demand gen? Brand building? Messaging and positioning? Earned media? CMOs can bring a wide range of experience to bear for your company, and clarifying what you need right now - versus what you are going to need later - will help you focus your search today. You mention that you are looking for someone who is equally strategic and hands-on. If you are an earlier stage company (eg pre-seed through series B), you may opt to bring on a director of marketing at this point. This would be someone with enough relevant experience to make informed and strategic plans and manage some external agency support, but not so senior that they don’t want to execute. This also gives you the flexibility to bring in a more senior chief-level marketer when your company gets to scale. If you decide you are at the stage where you need to bring on a more senior marketer, you should be clear what kind of resources that person will have when they join. Will they have a budget for external agencies? To hire and build an internal team? For paid marketing and growth? To find the right person, share the spec with your network and ask for introductions to people that might be a good fit. It can also be helpful to meet with marketers from a wide range of experience levels (director/VP/CMO) to calibrate on the right balance of experience you need. Great executive recruiters can also help you calibrate. Once you’ve found a few promising candidates, there are a few ways to figure out which one is the right fit for your team: Ask them about you. One way to understand how well someone is going to embrace and advance your company mission and brand is to ask them to explain it back to you in their own words. You can ask questions about their assumptions, their choice of words/language, and the external data they used to build the narrative they share. This should give you a good indication of how they think. Great marketing is the balance of art and science. How does this marketer leverage data to make decisions, and what do they do when data is incomplete? What is their approach to balancing their own experience-based intuition with data-driven inputs? How do they make decisions when they don’t have the data? Working with a team. How much autonomy does this person expect/want out of their next role? How much autonomy are you willing to provide? What are the expectations for how marketing decisions get made. If you need to be the final approver for all marketing activities, then you might want to look for a director level vs CMO. Lastly, you will learn a lot from referencing. In fact, you sometimes learn more about a person from a reference than you do in the interviews. And to be clear, no one is perfect. Everyone comes to the table with a wide spectrum of strengths and areas to develop. The most important thing to surface in referencing is the tradeoffs you would be making with a particular candidate, and determining if you are comfortable making those tradeoffs.
@ElisaSchreiber,I can’t tell you how valuable this is! I’m grateful for your words and advice. I can see some areas that I have already been taking and will therefore continue to take (e.g., “Ask them about you.”), as well as areas that need more attention in my search (e.g., “How does this marketer leverage data to make decisions, and what do they do when data is incomplete?”). I’m glad you are excited about my mission. I have been overwhelmed by the warm reception my mission has received both in enthusiasm and in support. It drives me every day to think bigger and to scale faster knowing that those on the receiving end need our help and they need it yesterday!Thanks again for your time. Please let me know how I can provide value to you. I’m eager to help women in the Venture world such as yourself as I see it akin to the work I am doing in tech. It’s important for women to be making decisions in the products that are produced and the technology that is created. Don’t hesitate to reach out. [email protected]Best,Ellen
Hi Elisa! I have noticed an obvious disparity between VC's that think marketing is important (like Greylock), and those that do not. Many articles have been written on the topic, but as someone who lives and breathes content for both partners and founders, I'd love to hear your perspective!
Hi Morgan! Great question. In venture capital, the people are the product. The best marketing for a VC is peer-to-peer founder referrals (and strong returns, natch!) Ultimately, entrepreneurs choose the individual investor / board member that they think will give them an unfair advantage to win. That said, I think most successful VCs agree that marketing is an important lever for them to see, decide, and win the best deals -- but how that manifests externally has a lot of variance. On one hand, there are very large platform firms that have robust full-time marketing and editorial teams churning out podcasts and newsletters and blogs and events to build and reinforce the firm and individual partner brands. On the other hand, there are firms that don’t even have a website, let alone a marketing team! In all cases, it’s typically up to the individual investor to decide what kind of marketing program will attract the kind of founders they want to invest in. For example, at Greylock, some partners love to host regular podcasts (👋 Masters of Scale!) while others prefer to spend time on 1-2 long-form thesis driven essays per year. Our lean marketing team is focused on understanding how each investor wants to practice VC, and helping them build and execute a marketing strategy that works best for them. Strong marketing and personal brands for VCs provides a competitive edge. VC marketing can -- and often does -- help with top of funnel inbound deal flow. It can also help VCs with outbound networking (e.g. when a VC reaches out to an entrepreneur to explore a possible investment).
Hi Elisa, After 8 years as a founder and CEO of a digital health startup using AI to provide wellness support for women with Autoimmune Disease. I decided to fulfill a long held goal of working in venture.I'm starting as an advisor and venture scout while learning the ropes and building my network. My ultimate goal is to start my own fund. I would love to hear your guidance on brand building and finding your voice as an investor.Thanks!Juliet
This is a great question and one that many investors focus on throughout their careers. And I love that you are thinking about starting your own fund! (I am on the advisory board at All Raise (, and would love to stay apprised of your progress here.) Personal brand is your reputation among people that matter most. Reputation is hard to build, easy to lose, and must be earned every day. And guess what... you already have a personal brand whether you’ve done anything to develop it or not. People have an opinion of you right now. So let’s talk about how to build on that positively.Your brand is what you make of it. If you want people to think about you in a certain way, you can influence that by sharing content and perspectives in the areas you care about. If you are not known today for something you would like to be known for, then start talking about it! The easiest way to do this is by sharing and creating content that represents your brand across all the social media platforms that you use. It also enables more people to discover you, since they will find you through your content.-Develop and refine a unique point of view on a small number of topics that matter to you.-Write. The process will help you codify your POV and enable you to contribute to the conversation in other ways. (Protip: Don’t get discouraged. Writing is a hard and painful process for everyone, even professional writers!)-Experiment with process. It might be better for you to work with a writer, or to record a podcast and release the transcript. Try a lot of different things to figure out what works for you. -Think about SEO when blogging and tweeting. More focused content = more relevant keywords = betterThere are a few building blocks you can use to define your personal brand: -What you offer. This is a crisp and short description of who you are, what you are passionate & knowledgeable about, and why it matters to the world.-To whom. For most VCs, the entrepreneurs you invest in will be at the front and center. They are the true heroes of your story. -Define your audience(s): You can drive impact with a small n of audience size. What kind of entrepreneurs do you want to attract? Are you a co-investor, follow-on investor? Some VCs prefer to be a follow-on or co-lead of another, larger firm/investor. In that case, you need to consider other investors as an audience.-Why you are different. Who you are as an investor, what you value, and what you believe. The story about why you are different will influence the entrepreneurs you work with, your ability to recruit and retain the right talent, and how you behave over the long term. Which in turn will impact the way people talk about you when you aren’t in the room — people like reporters, customers, partners, and other investors.-Why it is relevant now. Why does your perspective/experience give entrepreneurs a competitive edge? How does that fit into the broader zeitgeist?Your pitch should be: -Relevant to what you actually do -Aspirational, and something you can live up to.-Concise and leave people wanting more.-Distinctive and differentiated. Three easy ways to get started right away: -Ask your network to share three words they would use to describe you to a stranger. Do you like what you hear? How would you adjust?-Write your unique value statement. Use it on your LinkedIn and Twitter bios, etc. You are more than the companies you invest in. You can start by using this framework: “I am [your role] who helps [your audience] do or understand [unique offering] so that [transformation and benefit].”-Find your “kitchen cabinet” - the small group of people who will help review your content, ask tough questions, and help make it great.
Elisa,Thank you for this incredible advice and game plan. I truly appreciate the time and thought you put into your response. Now to take action!Have a great weekend,Juliet
Hi Elisa, Great to meet you here. I am curious at what stage I should hire a CFO. I am in the MVP stage of www.TryLoveBuy and currently self funded but will be raising funds as we move along. Do you see advantages to having the CFO in the beginning stages. Thank you, Kara Gordon CEOTry Love Buy
As a tech marketer, i've always romanticized the idea of being a marketer-in-residence for a VC firm. Having done that yourself, who would you recommend take that step? What has surprised you about the role in a good or bad way?
It’s an awesome role, and I understand why you are interested in it! It’s a pretty rare job as well -- on a percent basis, there aren’t that many VC firms that have full-time dedicated marketing staff. The best advice I have is to try to meet as many VCs as you can, so when an opportunity comes up, you are in the flow as a known potential candidate. I have been surprised about how much I enjoy the role, and how much impact you can have in marketing for a VC firm. I have also been surprised about how much of venture capital truly is a team sport. Especially true for the way we practice venture at Greylock.
Hi @ElisaSchreiber!In your experience, what are 1-3 most important things about communicating effectively?
First define who needs to hear your story. Most companies use the press as a starting point, but you are not crafting your story just for the press. You are also crafting your story for current and potential team members, customers, partners, and even competitors — basically everyone within your extended network needs to understand your story. The key here is that it’s the same story inside and out. When employees are out and about with their friends, they should be telling the same story about your company that your PR team is telling the press.Next, understand that your company does not exist in a vacuum. You are part of a larger zeitgeist - for better or worse. Cutting through the noise requires you to acknowledge the broader environment in which you operate, and to develop a core message about why you are different and better. This should be 1-2 sentences. If you can’t say it in 1-2 sentences, then you don’t have it yet. Lastly, your marketing should sound like a human. Stop polishing the heart out of everything. Find your true north star, write it down and let it guide the way.
@ElisaSchreiber thank you for taking time to summarise!I can relate to the 2nd and 3rd points!About your first point, my experience is that customers and investors are interested in hearing different "stories" (framing). Would be curious to hear what's your take on this?
Hi Elisa!Great to e-meet you! I spent a little over a year as the marketing lead at an incubator. While I was there I missed the feeling of being embedded in a product because in that role you support a bunch of teams, but aren’t on any in particular. However, now that I’m back on a singular marketing team, I do sometimes miss the broad scope. I’m curious how your transition has been moving from being at Hulu, spending all your time marketing only Hulu, to now supporting a portfolio of business? And what made you decide to make that move?
Hi! This is an awesome question. I know a lot of operators who have considered the move to VC. Some work in VC for a while, and then go back to operating. Others stay in VC long term. For me, this was an incredible transition and since joining Greylock, I haven’t yet looked back. I love working with the Greylock team, the founders we back, and the portfolio companies. You’re right -- there’s an indescribable magic to being a part of an internal startup team, especially at the earlier stages. You work in the trenches with a group of people who are all laser focused on achieving a singular mission. I’ll never forget the day that Hulu surpassed one million subscribers. (My friend and former colleague Johannes Larcher posted a video of the moment on Linkedin a while back: The startup experience is singular in the way a team comes together -- you build and ship product together, deal with growing pains and crisis together, and achieve important milestones together. VC is different but can be equally as rewarding. You are an important source of leverage for the companies in the portfolio, and you both want one thing: for the company to be wildly successful. But as a marketer in a VC firm, You aren’t shipping product. You aren’t sitting side-by-side with the engineering team. You often are not in the room when the millionth subscriber signs up. The founders and their teams are the heroes of the journey, and VCs have the privilege of being a part helping them build their story. But for me, it is extremely gratifying to help founders understand and execute the right press strategy, manage and pull through a tough news cycle, or launch their company successfully.
You have an incredible background that can offer a lot of startups but one that is different from traditional VC (eg finance, engineering, etc). How did you get on boards as an advisor? How did you showcase your value (especially in marketing and comms which isn’t as analytical as engineering or finance)? How does your role at greylock enable you to influence startups with marketing and comms?
Thanks for the questions. Many of Greylock’s partners are operators at heart -- and some even continue to run their own companies while venture investing. To that end, we thought about what kind of additive support and services we would want as founders, and built a specialist team to do those things. Our team of functional specialists provide critical support to help portfolio companies scale quickly. We cover core talent, executive talent, customer development and marketing. I oversee the marketing team. We work closely with the founders and the boards on marketing and communications efforts, and scale our involvement based on what is needed. I don’t really think about how my role “influences” the startups, I think more about how I can help them get to the best possible result by applying strategic marketing and communications.I would respectfully push back on the notion that marketing and communications isn’t as analytical as finance or engineering. Different, yes. But less analytical? No. The best marketers have strong technical skills. I would argue that a killer CMO has many of the credentials to be a good CIO. Successful CMOs are experts in applying analysis to quantitative data for user acquisition strategies, economics, growth, performance marketing and advertising to customers based on precise data. Personally, I am also a board director for Noodles & Company (Nasdaq: NDLS), one of the premier concepts in “fast casual” dining, with more than 450 restaurants throughout the country. I joined the board in Dec 2019 because the company was specifically interested in finding someone with marketing and digital expertise. I have loved my experience on the Noodles board largely because it is a respectful and disciplined independent board culture, and because I was a great fit for what they were looking for. The best advice I have is to join a board with a “you-shaped hole”. I saw what they were looking for and knew that I had expertise that would create value for the company. I was also excited about the opportunity and market.
Hey Elisa, thanks so much for taking the time to do this :) I would love to hear your thoughts on how to even get started with thinking about personal brand. Do you find it’s good to start building this with a particular brand in mind, working backwards? Or to just be yourself and build a brand from that? I’m imagining there’s something of a sweet spot between authentic and strategic. And then any other thoughts you have on getting started. Thanks so much for your time!Emma, Sophya
Hi Emma - I think I answered this question (see: @julietoberding), so I hope that helps!
What is the no.1 advice you will give your past self (let's say when you were starting out), knowing what you know now?
Your career will unfold in ways you can never anticipate, so stop trying to make decisions to orchestrate your life for the next 20-30 years. Just think about the next 1-3 years ahead of you, and decide how you want to spend that time. As a fine art student in undergrad, I never would have imagined I would wind up loving a career in venture capital. I never thought I would live anywhere other than Los Angeles. I never thought I would have a child. Your life will have many twists and turns and the more you try to engineer and predict it, the less happy you will be. Make decisions that reflect and honor your personal core values and you’ll never make a wrong choice.
Hi Elisa, what is the exact style difference between communicating to the global market vs the domestic? —do we now assume that the domestic market is global?
Hi Elisa, I would love to learn about how you have found your voice as an investor but also are responsible for your marketing efforts as a partner at Greycroft. Also, what advice would you have for young women who are interested in becoming an investor but have a marketing background?
Hi Natalie - Thanks for taking the time to ask a question. To clarify, I am not an investor myself. I work closely with our investing team as the marketing partner at Greylock which is a VC investing firm. So I am not sure I can be as helpful here.
Great question. Your core brand promise should be consistent no matter what geography you are in. But the most successful companies understand, appreciate and adjust to the different cultures, dynamics, and ways of life in the new countries where they expand. As an example, when we launched Hulu in Japan, we kept the core brand promise of premium TV content when, how and where you want it. But we worked extremely hard to deliver local Japanese favorites as well as shows and films with popularity that transcended borders. We also used local brand agencies to help us with our launch, and ensured that we tailored our messaging in a way that worked for that market.