Ready to Work.
We help companies scale technology sales teams and diversify their workforce.
Upriver Solutions is an upskilling, placement and retention support company that aspires to dramatically transform the workforce of the future by providing highly skilled diverse candidates to the tech industry. Our mission is to source, mobilize and train underutilized human capital and redeploy this talent in growing industries, in an increasingly knowledge-based economy. Central to our mission is partnering with tech companies that share our commitment to building and maintaining a truly diverse workforce.
Our primary goal is to identify, recruit and train diverse candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds for business-oriented, entry-level roles in the booming tech sector. We focus on the “business of tech” (sales, customer success, operations) versus the “science of tech” (coding, engineering, product). The economic fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic has provided us with an incredible opportunity to retrain and upskill large numbers of unemployed Americans from hard-hit industries like hospitality, retail and entertainment. With our help, these individuals can transition to business careers in the tech industry in roles where they are likely to succeed.
% of FAANG workforce - Black/ US population - 14%
% of FAANG workforce - Latinx/ US population - 18.5%
% of FAANG workforce - Women/ US population - 51%
The founders and advisors of Upriver Solutions are seasoned sales professionals with over fifty years of combined media and technology sales experience. We are excited to share our passion for sales and our commitment to increasing diversity with our partner companies.
Upriver Solutions helps tech companies solve a number of challenging staffing needs by providing well-trained, entry level, diverse candidates for hire in sales and customer success roles. We provide a complete and rigorous recruiting experience for our partners that includes identifying and recruiting talented individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds; providing best-in-class sales training through our sales bootcamp, Skillz Academy; matching partner companies with qualified candidates via our proprietary online platform; and helping partners reduce attrition by supporting our graduates through their first year of work.
Here's how it works.
Through our onboarding process, we develop a true understanding of your company, its culture, and your specific staffing needs. We strive to build relationships with company partners that are committed to creating fair and meritocratic work environments where diverse candidates can thrive while delivering exceptional financial and business results to their employers.
We commit to finding you high quality candidates to fill your sales, business development, and customer success roles. In exchange, you commit to providing our candidates a high quality work environment where they can earn a minimum annual salary of at least $40K per year plus commission and benefits for an average OTE of $50-60K per year.
Upon entering an agreement with us, we will give you access to our proprietary online matching platform where you can view our database of rigorously vetted and trained candidates. Our platform provides you with a deep dive into each candidate’s background via a comprehensive online portfolio that contains interviews, video observations, assessment scores, project work and certifications. Candidates and employers who select each other are then matched, and the chosen candidates enter your internal interview process.
Once you make an offer of employment to a candidate, we charge a modest placement fee for helping you source and hire an exceptional candidate. Once hired, we continue to support your new employee by providing them with ongoing professional coaching from one of our expert mentors. This ensures a seamless transition from our environment to yours and a greater likelihood of long-term, sustained success.
Courtney is a seasoned executive with a passion for education, technology and workforce development. In addition to his role at Skillz Academy, Courtney is also the founder and CEO of Torsh Inc., an education technology company and the Founder and CEO of Upriver Solutions Corp. Over a career spanning more than 25 years, Courtney has held senior roles at AOL, Time Warner, and Interactive One. He is an active member of his community, serving on a number of Boards including YouthForce NOLA and Krewe De Nieux. He also serves as a member of the Johns Hopkins School of Education National Advisory Council and is a 2010 CUP Fellow, a fellowship awarded to executives with an interest in public service. Courtney is a graduate of Columbia Law School and Oberlin College.
Originally from Washington, D.C., Natasha began her career as a Venture for America (VFA) Fellow working in Marketing and Recruiting at a private equity firm in New Orleans. VFA is a non-profit that helps recent graduates launch their careers in tech and startup businesses. She is a graduate of Barnard College at Columbia University, where she majored in Political Science and focused on women’s empowerment through her work with the Athena Center for Leadership Studies. Natasha is excited to grow Upriver and drive impact through career advancement.
Born in the Caribbean paradise of Trinidad and Tobago, Hermina began her career as an admissions counselor for SUNY. She is a graduate of Muhlenberg College. After having more than 10 years of admissions and marketing experience in Higher Education, to further hone her marketing skills, Hermina earned her MS in Internet Marketing from Full Sail University. When Hermina isn’t busy developing new ideas, she is serving in her community on the board of the Sigma Upsilon Nu Foundation. She looks forward to bringing her understanding of marketing, education, and experiences to help her to provide a unique marketing edge for Skillz Academy.
In 2014, Jacob moved to NOLA to launch his career in tech sales. He spent four years learning to sell at two NOLA-based startups. In 2018, he moved back to his hometown, Columbus, Ohio. He wanted to find a way to apply his sales skills to a cause and joined Venture For America (VFA) as a recruiter. VFA is a non-profit that helps recent graduates launch their careers in tech and startup businesses. In 2020, Jacob, who is also a VFA alumnus, recruited VFA’s largest and most diverse class ever. He is excited to return to New Orleans to launch Skillz Academy and teach New Orleanians how sales can be a life changing career. He is a mentor with Son of a Saint and a graduate of Duke University.
Carlton, a New Orleans native, has experience in property management, accounting, community organizing, and sales. Carlton spent time working for AT&T’s Business Sales Program in both Dallas and Atlanta before returning home to work with his family’s accounting firm. He is a graduate of Alabama A&M University and is excited to bring his versatility, energy, and unique professional experience to Skillz Academy. Carlton looks forward to making New Orleans a better place by recruiting talented individuals to join Skillz Academy where they will learn skills that can change their lives for the better.
Chris is an education specialist with a passion for innovative approaches to workforce development. Originally from the suburbs of NYC, Chris began his career at General Assembly, a globally recognized tech education school. At General Assembly, Chris worked in both student recruitment and career advising, helping over 100 students enroll into various courses and helping 30 students find new jobs in tech. In addition to working for GA, Chris has consulted at two education and career coaching startups where he has advised on course development and go-to-market strategy. Currently, Chris is helping to scale operations at Skillz Academy as a Data Analyst and Curriculum Writer.
As Corporate SVP & General Manager of MarketCast Sports, Live Events & Brands, Lyndon is tasked with expanding MarketCast’s fan research and analytics practice with existing sports clients and top lifestyle brands, as well as guiding the development and rollout of new advanced analytics products and services aimed at growing and nurturing fandom. With over 20 years of sales and business development experience, working across both Fortune 500 and early stage companies, he has achieved a proven track record of success. Prior to joining MarketCast, Lyndon served in a leadership role at Nielsen Sports for more than a decade as SVP, Head of Leagues & Rights Holders. Before his time at Nielsen, Lyndon served in business development roles at AOL, Cablevision and Dynasty Global Holdings.
Evan Chrapko is an entrepreneur who specializes in disrupting big, old industries. Evan is the Founder and CEO of an ESG-oriented company, Trust Science ®. His mission is to help deserving people get what they deserve, regardless of nationality/citizenship, race, creed, gender, marital status or age. Initially, the company is delivering its predictive power about people’s behavior (trustworthiness) via its globally-patented, Fintech SaaS known as Credit Bureau 2.0 ®. Trust Science’s credit scores harness alt.data and AI/ML to help enlightened lenders score financially-stressed or under-banked borrowers in a fair and ethical way. Evan is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute and was named to the Real Leaders Global 100 (alongside Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Peter Diamandis, et al.).
Leslie Jacobs is a native New Orleanean who has been engaged in education reform for more than 35 years. She is considered the architect of Louisiana’s accountability reform policies and was instrumental in creating the Recovery School District. Leslie has served as Chairman of GNO Inc, Vice-Chairman of the New Orleans Business Council and CEO and co-founder of the New Orleans Startup Fund. She is also the founder of 504ward, an initiative focused on retaining young talent in New Orleans, Chairman and co-founder of YouthForce NOLA and co-founder of Belltower. Leslie has received numerous honors including co-New Orleanian of the Year by Gambit magazine, a Top 100 Female Insurance Executive by Business Insurance and one of the “Twenty People Who Influenced Louisiana 1981-2001,” by Louisiana Life magazine.
Mark is a Deputy Director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and is a highly regarded expert in education policy and reform. He has more than 20 years of experience in education and workforce development having worked as a researcher, policy analyst and grant maker. During his time at the JP Morgan Chase Foundation, Dr. Rigdon was instrumental in implementing a number of workforce development initiatives for the Bank. As advisor to Skillz Academy, Dr. Rigdon provides strategic guidance as well as subject matter expertise in the education and workforce development. Dr. Rigdon holds an MBA from Northwestern University, a PhD in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and a BA from Oberlin College.
Charles Warner is the author of the widely-used textbook now in its fifth edition: Media Selling: Digital, Television, Print, Audio, and Cross Platform. Until May 2021, he taught at the graduate Media Management Program at The New School in New York City. Charlie was a Vice President of AOL Interactive Marketing from 1998 through 2002. He taught at the Missouri School of Journalism from 1988 to 1998, and before that was a Vice President of CBS and NBC. In his role as Advisor to Skillz Academy, Charlie has been hugely influential in developing our proprietary sales curriculum and will continue to advise us as we develop additional content and courses for other tech roles and functions.
Tim Williamson is the founder of the LOA Group, LLC, an organization that works with entrepreneurs to launch new ideas into the world by providing consulting, capital and coaching. Tim is a transformational executive with over 30 years of experience in all aspects of business formation, operation, finance, and management. He is a visionary product developer with a solid record of managing projects from concept to completion and coaching individuals to success. From 2000 through 2016,Tim founded and ran The Idea Village, a critical component of New Orleans’ burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem and was President of NOLA Media Group, the owners of the Times Picayune, from 2016 to 2018. Tim is a graduate of the Stanford University Executive Program and holds a B.S.M. in Finance from Tulane University.
Eric Lugo is the Founder and Principal of Conciencia Ventures LLC, an innovative practice with a mission to connect entrepreneurial and creative strategy to the social impact sector. Conciencia advises non-profits, foundations, and systems in strategic planning, collective impact, resource development and workforce strategy. Eric also currently serves as Director, External Relations for Discovery Partners Institute, leading efforts to build partnerships with key systems, corporate, community and civic organizations in scaling efforts to support and develop technology talent across the city, region, and state. Prior to DPI, Eric served as Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief of Staff at City Colleges of Chicago, Vice President in Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Senior Development Officer at Instituto del Progreso Latino.
Helen Orlando is a lead user experience consultant with more than 20 years of experience in defining, designing and implementing intuitive user-centered design solutions for large scale websites, interactive television, handheld and desktop applications. Helen has supported well-known brands such as AOL, eBay, BBC, T-Mobile, BMG, Barclays and the UK Department of Education. Helen is very passionate about education, technology and mentoring. Helen previously served as Chief Creative Officer for Torsh, an education technology company and has remained as a technology advisor. As advisor to Upriver Solutions, Helen will focus on ensuring the usability and design of all digital portfolio.