Comfy Life

Profile: Kelly Shaffer, Marketing Director

Posted by Comfy N. Lovinit on Sept. 2, 2016

As our marketing director, Kelly shares Comfy’s story and successes with audiences far and wide. Kelly comes to us from Opower, bringing years of cross-functional experience in Marketing, Software-as-a-Service programs, and customer-facing thermal control applications. Kelly holds her MBA from Georgetown's McDonough School of Business.


Tell me about the path that led you to Comfy.

Let’s start at grad school, no need to go back to college...we can leave those days where they are. Looking back, there were two inspirational concepts I took from my MBA experience at Georgetown (Go Hoyas!), that I knew I wanted to incorporate in my next career move. The first was the concept a super-tenured professor had founded and dubbed “social marketing,” it basically uses traditional marketing theories and practices in an effort to change behavior in a positive way. It’s something a lot of NGOs use to get people to engage in certain behaviors that reduce negative outcomes like, you know, death for instance. The second was the power of corporate social responsibility, this notion that a business could actually do well by doing good, especially if you weave responsibility practices into the company culture and product.

So, in navigating the next step for my career, I knew I wanted to work for a socially conscious, for-profit company that helped persuade people to take positive actions. Of course, I was also looking for a great work culture (you know, where jeans and t-shirts are standard attire, dogs roam free, and I’d be surrounded by super rad colleagues), which naturally led me to the world of tech startups and ultimately to Opower.

Opower is this really cool, double bottom line, B2B, SaaS company—yep, some serious Silicon Valley jargon right there—that uses behavioral science as a way to get people to reduce their energy consumption. I spent over four years at Opower, working on both consumer facing and front-of-house marketing teams, as well as creating and managing programs for the residential thermostat app product. Talk about foreshadowing for Comfy: marketing for a B2B2C SaaS company and launching a thermal comfort control app. Beyond the obvious overlap, my experiences and mentors at Opower really helped prepare me for the awesome challenge of establishing a marketing team from the ground up. That said, Comfy is a completely different product with a totally different market, it’s focused more on transforming an experience for people with energy savings as a bonus. It’s incredibly challenging but equally rewarding to create a new space in a well established and complex industry. One of the coolest things about Comfy (especially marketing for Comfy) is that we’re solving a problem that resonates with absolutely everybody, from my mom to a commercial building guru. Personalized control and productivity in the workplace are so ripe for the picking, and we’re here to make it happen.

"Basically I want to be in a rainforest, but with the coolest technology available...and no bugs."


What is your ideal office environment?

Ideally I want to be surrounded by things that feel natural and comfortable, which is what allows me to really focus and do my best work. So good natural light, lots of plants, comfortable temperature (obviously), and the ability to shift and control those things as needed throughout the day. Also, dogs walking around—everywhere—and of course, endless cups of bougie coffee on tap. Basically I want to be in a rainforest, but with the coolest technology available...and no bugs. But what it really comes down to is the humans. It's really important to be surrounded by a bunch of fun, super smart, and preferably strange and eclectic group of folks. Interesting people, with totally different takes on life, who love to work hard but also take time to play a little bit throughout the day...that’s what makes a truly great office.


If you had to change careers, what do you think you’d be doing?

If this wasn’t already evident, I’m strangely fascinated by human behavior. I mean I watch way too many documentaries, on a vast array of topics, because I’m genuinely curious about people, how they got to where they are, and the reasons behind the decisions they make. I think “the calling” I missed—or that maybe I’ll get to one day—is something in the health sector. I hail from a family of scientists, many of whom ended up in the medical field, so I’ve always felt a bit drawn to that world. I’m both fascinated and discouraged by today’s healthcare industry. There is so much untapped potential for using behavioral science to get people to make smarter preventive choices about their health. I could go on a tangent here about my most recent documentary and podcast endeavors (whole foods, plant-based diets for human and planet health, microbiomes, the uptick in preventable yet fatal diseases in the US), but in short, there’s such a tremendous opportunity to change how we prevent and treat health in this country...yet another industry and experience ripe for transformation. Shifting behavior and action is really hard, but I think if you can provide the right tools, remove some of the existing barriers, and deliver something that’s well-packaged, relatively simple, and can create some really substantial change.


What is the coolest technology in your personal life?

I’d have to say the coolest/lamest device I’ve recently purchased is probably the Dyson portable fan and heater. No, I’m not sponsored (unless Dyson wants to send me a vacuum, which I’ll gladly accept) and no, I’m not obsessed with temperature's just super cool! But when it comes to digital tech—yes, it gets even nerdier—my favorite technology is by far my suite of mobile banking apps. I always know to the exact penny what each of my accounts hold, which I’d like to think is more being responsible than just straight neurotic. But the ability to make a payment immediately on your phone or send somebody money via an email subject line is straight up...genius. If you’re not on banking apps, you’re totally missing out. I guess there’s a theme, I appreciate game-changing technology that improves the everyday experience, be it software or hardware, tech that pushes past status quo and re-dreams a design or process rather than simply improving it (ahem, like Comfy).


What is your ideal day off?

Well it starts with some delicious hipster coffee, because you know, San Francisco. Then once I’m properly caffeinated, spend some outdoor time with my badass dog. Our hobbies include long walks on the beach...but seriously, we love any combination of hiking and the ocean. After spending some quality time with the pup, I’d go catch up with some friends at a yoga class or some sort of silly, yell-at-you cardio bootcamp…followed immediately by some tacos or burritos because they are my primary food group. I think the gist is just take advantage of San Francisco’s bougie hipster life, even though I'm neither bougie nor a hipster. In the Bay Area all you have to do is walk out your front door, and a laundry list of amazing and ridiculous things await you.

Want to work with Kelly? Well, we're hiring! Check out all open positions and apply here.

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