Our Story

Photograph: On Your Mark


Obsessed with results

UpRight was founded in 2001 with a passion for:

  • helping entrepreneurs build their dream
  • applying technology to address real customer needs
  • the true value of marketing
  • working with high-performance teams on mission-driven causes, and ...
  • not just being good, but becoming great

UpRight Marketing was conceived from two important lessons:

  • Discovering that it takes more than a great technology, product, or service to win in the marketplace -- and build a sustainable business. It also takes great marketing.
  • Understanding "the true value of marketing".

The background

In 1994, I moved from the technology world of Boston’s Route 128 to the entrepreneurial world of Silicon Valley. Having just experienced how much fun it was to work with a top-notch team and take a start-up company public, I was excited by the opportunities the move might bring. However, as a former database engineer and product manager, I had also experienced the frustration of watching a company whose products were widely viewed as best of breed being out-marketed by a competitor with an inferior product. The pain was so deep I vowed to learn everything required to "do marketing right."

One of the things I grew to love and admire in technology-driven startups was the exhilaration and pride of innovating. Another discovery was that the romantic notion of starting a product's design in a garage and building it into a multi-billion dollar business was the very real aspiration of many budding innovators. But because that was such a lucrative vision for so many, priorities came to be more about the innovation itself –- technology for technology’s sake -- and less about how the technology should be applied to serve a specific set of customer needs. Holy cow!  I was in love with technology too, but from a business and marketing perspective, the conditions were recipes for disaster.

American marketing association

What I needed in this technology-driven environment was a supporting network of marketing experts and continuing education. So I joined and eventually became president of the local AMA chapter in Silicon Valley (SVAMA), an all-volunteer professional association. It was at this point in 2001 that my vow to understand and apply the value of marketing was put to its ultimate test.

The challenge and opportunity

For the technology community and for marketers, it was the worst of times. The dot-com bust was underway. Many marketers were out of work, leaving the valley, even abandoning the profession. Then the horrific events of September 11 depressed everyone’s morale and the economy. If that wasn’t enough, marketing was one of the least valued and least understood functions in high-tech. The SVAMA was dispirited at best, and funds were scarce. I wondered how I would ever guide and rally this organization.

At the same time, our industry needed marketing leaders more than ever before. So in the high-tech capital of the world, the SVAMA chapter's mission became to raise awareness of the true value of marketing and showcase our community's marketing leadership.

The results

With a vision for what could be achieved and most importantly, the shared commitment and expertise of its leaders, the chapter management focused on the marketing fundamentals to:

  • create a sustainable business model
  • build a talented and dedicated team
  • deliver the right product to the right customer at a profit
  • communicate a well-defined brand and continuously shorten the sales cycle
  • "pay it forward"  in contributions to the community

At the end of my term in 2002, the results far exceeded expectations. By embodying these fundamentals and managing to performance, we became highly profitable, the fastest growing, and most successful chapter overall among all AMA chapters worldwide -- earning AMA’s Chapter of the Year award.

Understanding the true value of marketing

For these marketing professionals, the most fulfilling aspect of this achievement was in providing the evidence for, and raising awareness of, the true value of marketing in our high-tech world. I also learned that when marketing is "done right", it works.

We love achieving sustainable results and building dreams. And these are the marketing leadership principles that we employ at UpRight Marketing.

-- Cynthia Holladay, Founder & CEO