Brand vision, hard work and “a-ha moments” all play into the success of an early-stage tech startup. But how does a company thrive in the early stages when a vision exists, but the solution is not so clear? In this week’s episode, we welcome Melissa Moody, Co-Founder & CMO of Gated, to outline Melissa’s unique journey of category creation while concurrently building a product for the digital market, as well as what it takes to shape consumer behavior with those products and to get consumers talking in a way that benefits your marketing efforts. 


  • Enjoy the Scrappy Approach – When launching an entirely new product with no marketing budget and a small team, it’s crucial to approach your work with a fun, positive perspective, as opposed to worry or futility. Finding joy in “controlled chaos” is the name of the game.

  • Heightened Risk Tolerance – Innovation doesn’t come easy. No matter the size of your team, you need to have high risk tolerance in order to do innovative things. Looking at what you’re NOT doing as an opportunity cost, and being okay with what you’re not doing, is just as important as what you ARE doing with your work.

  • Mindfulness of Team Size – Workers anticipating a large marketing team may be unhappy when their team is smaller, and vice-versa. Understanding your tolerance in the workspace for concepts (like the speed at which you need to work) is a crucial component of your success with any size team. If you prefer a slower pace, a small team may not be for you, and that’s okay!

  • Empower Customers & Get Them Talking – What does it take to put your product benefits into the customer’s words? Understanding the humanity of a product or service plays a large role in being able to translate its benefits into words that the customer relates to.  Going the extra step to actively listen to how consumers talk about your brand, and using that language in your marketing, can be even more effective than coming up with your own language.


  • Active ListeningHow does a company empower its advocates? Curating ideas through careful thought and mindful, active listening is an important place to start.
  • Decisiveness – When you’ve heard enough, it’s time to take action! Eliminating the “Could Have/Should Have” mindset in decision making makes your leadership much more effective. 
  • Leveraging Your Network – Melissa maintains what she calls the “Concentric Circles of Influence.” Keeping tabs on the groups you’re affiliated with, and how to use those groups in a progressive and effective manner. Advisory groups with varying levels of focus ensures you receive support for any given task.
  • Maximize Impact – Focusing on channels based on your goals and going where your target users are plays a large role in the success of your strategy.



At the start, Gated had virtually no product to market and 100 beta users who Melissa’s team had listened to closely for one year. For Melissa, showing up with a strictly organic approach from the start (i.e, not rushing the consumer to use Gated or utilizing paid ads) and educating potential consumers on Gated’s benefits led to roughly 750 signups in its first day, and 300,000 impressions on social content. For Melissa, the “Lightning Strike” moment came from Gated’s initial widespread appeal on social media — particularly comments that the marketing efforts appeared like they were executed by a much larger team. 

A bit more about Melissa:

Melissa is the Co-Founder & CMO at Gated, the self-proclaimed “noise-canceling headphones for your inbox.” Starting as a high school teacher, Melissa quickly transitioned to the marketing world; after a 14-year stint at Google (and many more mentoring startups and advising investment funds), Melissa jumped to startup marketing strategy, where she works hard to grow world-class brands from the ground up. Melissa is also the host of the podcast “2 Pizza Marketing,” a podcast designed for small-team marketers.

Connect with Melissa:

Connect with Mike & Gaby @ Proofpoint Marketing:


Recent Episodes: