To kick off our city profiles in the US, Kate chats to Ashley Brown – a relatively-new SF transplant who heads up marketing and communications at local delivery startup, Postmates and loves shooting stuff. (I originally had the pleasure of meeting Ash at the Women 2.0 Conference back in February.) Check out her response below:
You recently starting heading up marketing and communications at Postmates, can you tell us more about the service and what it offers over other delivery companies?
Postmates operates at the intersection of local commerce and delivery. With our app, Get It Now, users can order from any restaurant or store in the city and have items delivered in less than an hour. Order from Little Star Pizza, Papalote, McDonalds, Nordstrom, the Apple Store, you name it. Our fleet of Postmates will purchase your items and deliver them; payment is done entirely through the app so there’s no fumbling for cash or swiping your card through a reader. Currently, there is no startup that offers the same extensive functionality as Postmates. There are several “task” startups that we are seeing pivot into our space, but no other company currently has the same product capabilities and focus on local commerce. Prior to Postmates, I was on the agency-side, working with startups like Siri, Klout, Wolfram-Alpha, Roku and Beluga. In my experience, the companies that succeed are those with a rock hard vision, unwavering dedication to product and strong technical chops. We have our sights set a lot higher than just sandwich deliveries and I’m excited to be a part of the team that has paved the way for what is becoming a huge market opportunity.
What do you like best about working in the marcomms/PR/community intersection for startups?
I touch everything that has a public face. Whether it’s an article, an internal blog post, a push notification or web copy, I work with Bastian (our CEO) to create messages that communicate both product function and company ethos. It’s a LOT of work, but we’re at such an exciting stage in our life cycle where we’re still small enough that I work directly with our founders to manage PR and marketing as well as partnerships and sales. When you’re small, you can’t have an ego. Everyone plays their part and wears multiple hats to get the job done.
Tell us more about the Sandhill Golf & Gun Club – do you like shooting stuff?
I love shooting. I was always afraid of guns, but it’s true that the more familiar you become with your fears, the less daunting they become. I prefer shotguns over handguns and rifles, but I do shoot all three. I enjoy the sport aspect of skeet and trap shooting much more than target practice. It’s social, it’s competitive and here in San Francisco especially, you’re shooting in the beautiful outdoors.
You’re also a member of the Sandbox Network – what’s it about and how did you hear about it?
Sandbox is an international network of entrepreneurs under 30. Members work across various industries, but everyone has the same goal: we want to make the world a better place. There are rocket scientists and journalists. Startup CEOs and founders of non-profits. Writers and designers. The list goes on. I have met some of the most incredible people since I was accepted two years ago. I originally found out about Sandbox during SXSW from San Francisco ambassador, Max Marmer and have since connected with members in NYC, DC, Austin, LA, Melbourne, London, Paris, Zurich, Berlin, Beijing, Hong Kong, Nairobi, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Amsterdam – just off the top of my head!
You moved from Austin to SF a year ago – what do you think of the startup and creative scenes in each city?
Austin’s startup community is a topic of many a happy hour conversation and blog post. The startups in Austin often complain that there’s a lack of exposure or that Silicon Valley is overrated. They have lofty goals for how to build the city into a hub for innovation. And I have no doubt that they’re capable of it, but the fact is, Silicon Valley is increasingly more well established. There is an unlimited source of hungry developers, access to funding, and the opportunity to watch trends and markets develop. As a consultant that needed to have an understanding of the market as a whole – players involved, trends, new competitors, publication shifts, etc. – I found that spending time in the Bay Area was extremely important and ultimately felt that living in SF was the best decision professionally. It doesn’t hurt that it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world. ;)
You interned a bit in your earlier career – what recommendations do you have for upcomers and recent graduates?
I attended a relatively competitive university in DC, so internships were the norm. Most students interned on Capitol Hill but I also had friends working for non-profits, law firms, design agencies, and news stations. I worked everywhere from a Swiss news station to a web development firm to a lifestyle magazine to an ed-tech startup, all before I finished my undergrad. I firmly believe students need to experience a balance of the rigidity of higher education and the responsibility of work at a real company. One of the best pieces of advice my parents have ever given me, was to experience as much as possible within the safety of college. You’re expected to change your mind about your career constantly and take risks. Don’t miss out on that opportunity. In my experience, the students that were laser-focused on the career they “thought” they wanted, are now either miserable or taking time to re-focus.
Who else do you think is doing cool stuff in our communities?
I really love what Path is doing. It’s a simple concept – creating a micro community – but, it’s the same segmentation and implementation of actual human behaviors that I admired in Beluga. I’m a sucker for products that integrate communication research. One of my other favorite companies is Liquidspace. They’re most notable as “the Airbnb of workspaces” but they have this entire vision for underutilized office space, that is not only environmentally compelling, but has incredible market opportunity and ties directly into the already established collaborative consumption trend.
What’s next for Postmates and yourself?
At Postmates, we’re focused on perfecting our model. I’ll be the first to admit, we may make it look like a simple, but there’s a LOT that goes into this. Once we have that down, we’ll be expanding to new cities reasonably quick, so I’m preparing for that. Personally, I’m having a ball just exploring this San Francisco and the entire Bay Area. I work long hours, so my boyfriend and I try to go for a drive at least once every weekend – out to Marin, Tomales Bay, up to Mendocino, down to Carmel, etc.