If necessity is the mother of invention, demand is the daughter of innovation. That concept was not lost on entrepreneur Courtney Culmer, who in October of 2020 – during the pandemic and before the Great Resignation found a solution to the problem of corporate downsizing and job loss that impacted the livelihoods of millions of Black, Brown and White Americans.
The perceptive communications expert established the consulting company, Uplevel Communications Inc. to address workplace changes and the consequent shifts from employees to freelancers and independent contractors. Essentially, the perceptive communications expert saw the surge in job exodus and recognized how the transition from conventional work scenarios to gig economies would require skill and strategy.
“I spent about a decade working in corporate communications, typically in integrated marketing communications roles, working for various fortune 500 companies. … And then after working for a decade in corporate communications, I went on to start my own freelance consulting business, explained Culmer. “At a corporate level, more and more companies are being continuously pushed to cut costs and find smarter ways to get things done. And at a smaller business level, where you’re really scrutinizing each hire, in the impacts that you see them having it doesn’t always feel feasible to bring on in-house, a dedicated full-time marketing or communications lead, right, but it doesn’t negate the need for it.”
That’s where the need and innovation intersect. Uplevel Communications, Inc., a digital platform that allows vetted and knowledgeable communications contractors with technical knowledge to connect with companies and companies seeking to fill short and long-term projects, has ebb able to provide a solution for this brave new workplace phenomenon.
In fact Culmer’s fresh approach to identifying and culminating a workable resolution won her and the company a cash award from Google and place in the third cohort of the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund.
The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund provides non-dilutive cash awards to promising founders and their startups to grow revenues and obtain access to capital.
Culmer and Uplevel Communications, is one of the 47 startups selected nationwide for the Google for Startups program focused on high-potential startups from underrepresented entrepreneurs based in the U.S. For her efforts the marketing and communications innovator received $100,000 capital along with Google Cloud credits and hands-on support to help the burgeoning company flourish.
“The fund has really helped us submit and bring on additional resources, particularly in helping with our operations and with our marketing. … We wanted to focus on expanding our team. So, we’ve been able to bring on resources and new team members who we identified as really being key hires to our next stage of growth. We are a team of seven, so we’re still a small team. But I started out as a team of one, okay.”
Uplevel Communications appeal is uniquely comprehensive. The company is not only expanding its capacity to help build the most effective organizational structure to staff companies with experienced professionals, it also facilitates work opportunities for current and displaced workers who want to diversify income streams and dip their toe in the entrepreneurial pool until they find their next great opportunity.
“I think there’s a lot of value to be brought to the current marketplace, and there’s a lot of hidden expertise that could be tapped into, that’s going to really disrupt things for good, and help it identify some blind spots,” Culmer said.
“As a black woman I know how we show up in spaces, the excellence that we bring to the management style, and the focus and commitment [we bring to bear] on collective, and broader environments … The world is ever changing, the makeup of the world is ever changing, and it is important to bring in fresh thinking and make sure that there is representation across the board.”
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