Startup Blueprint: Mikayla Hopkins, Head of Marketing, Tracksuit

Michaela Egbers

The Startup Blueprint series shares stories of founders and team members from some of Aotearoa's most epic and fast-growing startups. Hear about their journeys, learn from their insights, and maybe leave with a dose of inspiration.
This time around we spoke with Mikayla Hopkins, an all-around marketing (track)star, and the Head of Marketing at the fast-growing startup, Tracksuit. Tracksuit provide beautiful, always-on-brand tracking and are changing the way companies talk about and measure brand. 🚀


Blog post 8

You radiate passion for your career in marketing, tell us about yourself and what led you to be a founding member of the Tracksuit team?

Thanks! I love marketing. To me, it’s about understanding humans and great storytelling. There’s magic in that.

My background is in building purpose-driven brands, previously as Chief Marketing Officer at luxury Cosmedicine and Training centre, The Face Place. We pioneered an industry and built a successful, thriving business that was visited by people from all around the world. I also scaled my own venture, Her Career, a digital network that helped women across APAC grow their careers.

It was divine timing with Tracksuit! There’s a story here (see, storytelling!)

Let’s take a walk back to mid-2021.

The name ‘Tracksuit’ was thrown around at a monthly marketing meeting I attended. A marketer I admire (Catherine, Head of Marketing at Kernel) shared this new thing called ‘Tracksuit’. “As in the apparel you wear?” I asked. “No, it’s this simple brand tracking dashboard that finally helps us prove the impact of our marketing!” she replied. It wasn’t what she described, but HOW she described it.

I hadn’t heard someone speak so passionately about software before. It was weird. She was genuinely excited about including this in her marketing stack and the impact it’d have on our profession.

I was intrigued and asked her to put me in touch.

Cue, meeting Matt.

Matt’s charisma and vision for the world of brand marketing was compelling. The first time he showed me the dashboard, my words were quite literally “I’ve been looking for this my whole career”. I was sold. I was also cooking up a new career opportunity in the background and about to land my dream role in fintech.

Moments from signing on the dotted line, I found myself on a call with Connor (Co-Ceo of Tracksuit).

Both Connor and Matt want to change the world and hope one of the ways they’ll do that is by showcasing a very human and team-centric way to build a billion-dollar business from New Zealand. I resonated with this and took a risk that turned out to be the best decision I could have made.

The two of them are special humans and the type of entrepreneurs (and people) I love to build alongside.

Track team
The Tracksuit team

Tracksuit lives up to its reputation of being a really cool company (from where we’re sitting anyway), what does Tracksuit do and why do you love being a part of the team?

We’re building the common language to measure, understand and communicate the value of brand.

A not-so-secret fact is that traditional brand tracking is expensive and built for enterprises, making it difficult to access and justify for scaling businesses. Built from best-in-class methodology, Tracksuit’s beautiful, affordable and always-on brand tracking tool is 10x more affordable and 10x easier to action.

Our growth is a testament to our people and the massive pain point Tracksuit solves for marketers and brand builders (I get it, I’ve been there!)

I love being a part of the team because you can use storytelling and PR as a vehicle to shape the employee brand, but if this doesn’t match up to the reality of the company culture, you’ll be found out (real quick). Tracksuit’s magic is the people - every single human is kind, generous and the smartest in their field.


You joined Tracksuit as track star #3 and are now a team of over 32. Some of the newer faces sit in marketing. How have you gone about expanding your marketing team? How did you determine which roles to prioritise and what were some methods you used to discover great candidates?

Correct! Building great marketing teams is something I’m particularly passionate about. I’m a generalist across marketing’s 3 broad functions; growth, content and product marketing. This year, it’s about hiring the best-in-their field within each broad function (and sub-function). I resonate with this framework org chart by Emily Kramer (below), as it follows a very similar state to what I’m building within Tracksuit’s marketing team.


UntitledSource: Emily Kramer, MKT1


At Tracksuit, we use all the usual talent platforms but have also had a lot of success with cold outreach on LinkedIn. Often, we’ll reach out to our dream candidate and ask them for their “advice” on how we’d hire someone for this specific role. One thing often leads to another and we sell them on Tracksuit and the team!

Are there any emerging marketing trends you’ll be keeping a close eye on and/or testing out for Tracksuit?

There are always a million and one trends to play with in marketing.

While technologies and channels may evolve, the core marketing principles tend to stay the same and these are the three I live by:

Principle 1:

James Hurman (shameless plug!) said it best with his mental model, Future Demand. He makes it simple and I wholeheartedly follow his philosophy. That is, marketers have two jobs, to harvest the demand in the market in the short term with conversion activity. And to build future demand for the brand among people who aren’t ready to buy just yet, but who will enter the market later.

The latter group is almost always much larger and the people critical to long-term, sustainable growth. Tracksuit protects against the danger of short-termism and a “convert at all costs” mentality.

Companies with strong brands will build a case for bothism and build for the long and short.

Principle 2:

The deeper you understand your customer's problem, the wider the opportunity over time to understand how your unique solution today, could solve a broader set of problems that the customer might have over time.

I can’t emphasise this enough, marketers must be the expert in the pain, because if you’re an expert in the pain, you see more than anyone else does. And if you become the loudest advocate for that pain, and someone experiences that problem, who are they going to go to? The one that solves that pain!

Principle 3:

Be an extension of your customer’s aspirational state or value system. For example, I’d wear Bumble swag, despite never having used the product. By aligning with a company like Bumble, it tells the world what I care about (women making the first move in business and in relationships).

Brands that embody their values win the perception and sentiment game in this market.

When marketers show up to a Tracksuit event, wear a Tracksuit tracksuit, or use our data to prove what they’re doing is working, they’re telling the world they believe brand is a driver of long-term commercial success. They’re fighting for a world where imaginative, thoughtful, meaningful brand marketing is more commonplace than intrusive, irritating and ineffective promotion.


"Brands that embody their values win the perception and sentiment game in this market."

In your role at Tracksuit you speak to a LOT of marketers. What’s the main problem marketers are currently facing and what’s your take on it?

I spoke to at least one B2C marketer every day in 2022 🤯 There were 8 key things the best marketers did.

Most importantly, they knew how to fight for investment.

The marketers that grew (I’m talking doubled, sometimes even tripled) brand awareness knew how to articulate the commercial value of brand.

Being able to communicate this, especially to non-marketing stakeholders, was one of the greatest skills that set these people apart.

You can read the other 7 things here.


Working in a fast-growing company can make it difficult to balance learning with doing, how do you carve out time to learn and develop professionally and in what ways are you doing it?

Training, mentorship and professional and personal development are core to our culture and way of operating. We’re super lucky at Tracksuit that we’re so big on this. We support every single person on our team to find a mentor. This helps give each individual an impartial sounding board from experts around the world. It’s amazing.

When you join Tracksuit, we also try and get every track team member into James’ Masters of Advertising Effectiveness course which gives both marketers and non-marketers a chance to think wider than their function (and understand the language of our customers).

I also belong to a marketing group called Marketing Masters - a group of 20 wonderful humans that are passionate about marketing. It’s a space that’s psychologically safe, where we can share challenges and accelerate our skill set, together.



🔥 3 quick-fire questions 🔥

First tab/webpage you open when you sit down at your computer in the morning  (other than Tracksuit of course 🤓)

Co-star (kidding, kinda).

I check our #trackteam Slack channel and see what everyone’s been up to! I also have 30 minutes of scheduled email time from 8:30am - 9am, where I answer the things that’ll have the greatest impact. It’s super important I’m disciplined on this, otherwise, I can easily live in my inbox which is neither healthy nor productive (or fun)!

Most useful resource you’ve listened to/read/absorbed recently that you’d recommend to others

I loved “Let my people go surfing” by Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia). It was profound. Also, if you’re a marketer, brand builder, founder etc, sign up to the MKT1 substack. Their template library is unlike anything I’ve ever seen and it always inspires me to build better.

A word or phrase that reflects how you intend to approach 2023

“Bite off more than you can chew, and then chew like hell”.

I was hiking up a hill last year with some girlfriends and we watched as a 75+ year-old passed us. We couldn’t quite calculate how that had happened and so we spoke to him at the top of that hill. Turns out, he’d left school at 15 and spent his earlier years building successful companies which made a big impact on people and the world. He then retired at 45 and sailed around the world. Now he spends his time walking up that big hill. 5 days a week. I’m a sucker for a quote and so I asked him “What’s something you live by?” That was his reply.


You can find Mikayla here, Tracksuit's beautiful brand tracking here, and the open roles at Tracksuit right here


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Tags: Startups, Founders, CEO

Michaela Egbers

Written by Michaela Egbers

Head of Marketing at Icehouse Ventures