Lead(H)er: Laura Zax, Vice President of Marketing at Splice
When Laura Zax graduated from Yale, she went straight to Los Angeles to begin her career as a musician. While she worked on her music, she also worked part-time for Ashoka, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit with a strong social entrepreneurial focus.
Zax ultimately decided not to pursue music as her full-time gig, choosing instead to follow the path she had begun with Ashoka. She began working at a health tech startup called Remedy Systems, helping to facilitate its social entrepreneurship initiatives through community management.
“I was really passionate about change at scale,” Zax said. “I fundamentally saw two levers for change at that kind of change. One was government, and that wasn’t a route I was going to go at this stage in my career, and the other was the corporate world. I had to figure out how business works, because it shapes our lives unlike any other force.”
Knowing that a large, corporate company would likely not suit her personality, Zax became the tenth team member of Harry’s about a month before the shaving company took its products to market. The two years she spent at Harry’s served as a startup bootcamp, and Zax learned as much as she could about launching a high-growth, direct-to-consumer brand.
But Zax wanted to get even more involved in effecting social change, and she also wanted to pivot into marketing. She moved on to Etsy, and during her year as social innovation manager there, Zax began to wonder what an Etsy for musicians would look like. What if there was a platform that could connect musicians to new markets and to each other to provide them with financial and creative opportunities for growth?
That platform existed, and it was called Splice. The open ecosystem toolbox lets musicians access a library of sounds and plugins alongside a worldwide community of musicians ready to support each other. She joined the team in September 2016.
“I really do believe that our core product is making the ability to express yourself, to create, and to connect with other creators much more accessible,” Zax said. “As a musician, I think that’s good for the world.”
Zax serves as Splice’s Vice President of Marketing, making her responsible for creating content, like stories and videos, that help musicians during their creative processes while building Splice’s brand and business. She aims to inspire, unblock, and show musicians what they can do with Splice to give them the information they need to continue making music.
Zax joined Splice as the company’s twelfth employee in the hopes of finding the same excitement she did as an early employee at Harry’s.
“It was important to me as someone who’s fundamentally a maker to feel like I was making something that was going to have an impact on the business,” Zax said.
Now, the early hypothesizing and testing to which she contributed to get the company off the ground has turned into similar experimentation within the marketing department, and Zax is eagerly working on projects to continue getting Splice into the hands of more musicians.
She and her team are particularly focused on supporting women within the music industry. They hope to make women who are already established within the industry more visible and connect them with more opportunities while also encouraging more women to start careers in music, particularly the more technical areas of music production, and connecting them with mentors and opportunities to learn.
“We’re still in the early stages of putting this together, but it’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about Splice,” Zax said.
Quick Q(uestions) & A(dvice)
What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m always playing guitar.
What are your strategies for managing stress?
I welcome other people’s answers on this one! I don’t think I’m particularly good at managing stress. I used to do Transcendental Meditation twice a day, and that was the best tool I had. I’ve definitely gotten out of practice right now, so I’m not doing a whole lot to manage it, but being in love is also helpful! It’s a stress reducer.
How many cups of coffee do you drink in a day?
Three weeks ago I went down to one cup a day in the morning, with some exceptions from time to time. Before that it was probably three cups a day, and I found that I was feeling groggy. I was going through different things one by one to try to reduce that grogginess, and the first thing I tried—which was reducing coffee to one cup a day—did it.
What’s one of your favorite places in the NYC area?
My apartment is my absolute favorite place. It’s got really high ceilings and a wall of windows, and a very artistic friend of mine built shelves for me as a gift, so I have these big, statement shelves now. It’s also on the third floor, so you feel like it’s a tree house a little bit because the windows are right in the trees. It’s my oasis.
What do you consider one of your greatest accomplishments so far?
I think it’s my contributions to Splice. It’s become very beloved among music creators, and the investor community has shown confidence and faith. We just raised our Series C funding at the end of last year, so I’m proud of both of those sides of Splice’s success. Many people have contributed to those things, but I’m proud of my small contribution.
How does where you are now compare to where you saw yourself 10 years ago?
I was not someone who had a clear idea of what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be. It all felt very hazy and anxiety-inducing to me, so I don’t know that I had a vision. I think that back then if I saw where I am today, I would say “Oh, this makes sense. That’s pretty cool. Two thumbs up.”
What’s your advice for recent college graduates?
My advice is to never make decisions out of fear when you’re young. You might have to make tough decisions like that when you’re older, but for now, don’t do anything out of fear.