Founder and President of The Upstart Group, Rohan Thambrahalli has made it his goal to develop a culture that embodies the builder who delivers best-in-class value to customers and partners. Upstart is Rohan’s greatest personal and professional achievement, it was his vision from the beginning to start a company that could provide vendors the reach, technology, scale, and capabilities to compete with the best brands in the world.
Rohan holds a bachelor’s degree in MIS and Economics from Depaul University. In his free time, Rohan enjoys reading business journals and articles.
Justin McMillan is our Chief Operating Officer responsible for managing the overall business with a focus on vendor operational performance enhancement. He also oversees Amazon advertising consultation and campaign management. During his time at Upstart, Justin has been recognized as a standout for ensuring the live status for in-network and direct fulfillment purchase orders, during a period of aggressive change for Amazon. Where other vendors struggled, Justin protected all of our vendors and exceeded delivery expectations during a time of question and uncertainty.
Justin holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Depaul University. Outside of work, Justin is a self-proclaimed outdoorsman and is constantly looking for an excuse to get as far North into the wilderness as possible.
“Upstart was created to be more than a single software, platform, or solution company. We consider ourselves a full-service shop and take great pride in addressing every client issue as if it was our own. Today’s form of distribution is a convoluted and over-penetrated space. Brand owners are struggling to manage their sales channels and eCom tends to funnel a specific value add from weak distribution partners. It takes a comprehensive strategy for all channels to manage it effectively and while eCom is often just a piece of the overall business, it requires more engagement, more software, and more expertise to manage effectively; not only to grow it, but to protect respectable channel partners as well.”
Walt Sedlacek is our Vice President of Product and Marketing. Internally known as our “product guy”, Walt oversees all product related activities from launching new companies with innovative products, to sourcing, product line positioning, and business logistics.
Walt has launched $200+MM in new products for great companies like Black & Decker, GE, and American Tool. He also brings the entrepreneurial side to our business, having successfully started and sold 5 product related companies. He recently developed and launched a top selling lighting product on Amazon.com.
Walt holds a Marketing degree from University of Illinois and believes that watching his 4 children grow up, is his greatest pride in life.
“I’m a marketing product guy, and I’m attracted to finding innovative business solutions. Upstart shows tremendous potential and has a powerhouse team behind it. I have no doubt that we will continue to exceed expectations above and beyond. There’s no limit!”
Nick Prater is our Vice President of Sales, responsible for revenue growth, partner management, and multi/omni channel strategy.
Nick has an extensive background in Sales, as he joined Upstart from The Chamberlain Group where he served as a National Accounts Manager leading the go to market strategy and was awarded the “Circle of Excellence” 2017 Sales Leader of the Year. Nick has held other positions within the Retail, Industrial, and eCommerce channels space representing over $100M in annual revenue.
Outside of work, Nick loves to play golf, and believes the sport brings out true character.
“Simply put, I believe in the team, what we are pursuing, and the #UpstartHustle. If we are living in the age of disruption, then Upstart is the disruptor!”
Ryan Barron is our Brand Marketing Manager who oversees all creative content efforts as they satisfy the requirements of the Amazon platform. Ryan has earned the “Best-in-class Content” Award in 2018 on behalf of Adesso Home, in the Amazon Home Category.
Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Amongst many of his talents, Ryan is also a vocalist in the Chicago-based Bill Pollack Orchestra.
“Upstart is living, breathing proof that people can accomplish anything as long as they’re willing to put in the work. What began as an idea has now become an accomplished and quickly growing business well positioned to continue guiding partners through new challenges and unprecedented trends. The people at the core of The Upstart Group not only understand what the bottom line is, they are also willing to do the heavy lifting required to stay well above it. ”
Erin Usher is our Brand Portfolio Manager who manages all aspects of Vendor account activity on Amazon. Erin was a key member in securing the marketing strategy and launch of the OV LED Headlamp, Amazon’s #1 selling item.
Erin holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to her contributions at Upstart, Erin is a practiced Yogi and believes in mental and physical wellness.
“The eCommerce market moves quickly and is always changing. Upstart does more than just keep up in a fast environment. We stay ahead and set the pace. I appreciate the challenge of solving for tomorrow’s problems and am lucky to work with a team of people who have the agility and work ethic to make a change.”
Miya Dotson is our Brand Ambassador who is responsible for building and expanding The Upstart Group’s brand equity and reach through strategic marketing efforts, mainly, but not limited to Social Media and SEO.
Miya holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Finance from the University of Pittsburgh, where she was also a NCAA DI Gymnastics Student-Athlete. Outside of work, Miya coaches gymnastics at a local gym in Seattle as a way of giving back to the sport she feels like defined her.
“I believe in providing the best business solutions for customers who want a chance to compete in the online space. The Upstart Group’s expertise is unmatched, and the people are the reason why. I have never seen more capable, driven, and passionate individuals move mountains the way that the Upstart team does. ”
Esther Raymond is our Creative Media Coordinator responsible for helping our partners grow their business by optimizing their online content. Esther’s top focus is to present a streamlined brand presence online. Esther is visually inspired and has an unmatched eye for detail that shows up in all of her work.
Esther holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communications with minors in both Business and Art from the University of Kansas. Esther joins the Upstart team out of college after a strong demonstration during her internship in 2018. We are thrilled to have her on our team. Outside of work, Esther is an Artist and enjoys drawing and sketching recreationally.
“I chose to work for The Upstart Group because of the team. This group of people is really excited and passionate about what they do. I feel motivated to work just as hard as the people around me here.”
Melonie Carnegie, MBA is a visionary, results driven sales executive with outstanding business results. Melonie excels in B2B Go-to-Market Strategy, PL management, and Building Exception Sales Organizations to deliver exponential growth within Automotive, MRO, and Industrial Distribution. She has an exceptional track record of building cross-functional internal relationships to facilitate high quality customer experiences.
Most recently, Melonie Carnegie was appointed the Head of Lennox Learning Solutions for North America charged with delivering World-class training experiences with internal and external customers. Prior to this role, Melonie was a Regional Sales Executive responsible for $500M in sales.
Prior to joining Lennox, Melonie spent 10 years with Grainger Industrial Supply and 10 years with Ford Motor Company in various Sales and Marketing Leadership Roles.
Melonie earned her Bachelors of Science Degree in Marketing from Jackson State University and her MBA from Clark Atlanta University. Currently, Melonie is pursuing a MS in Sales Leadership.
Eric Chernik, MBA, is a business/P&L executive producing exceptional results, leading strategy, B2B retail store operations, e-commerce, market expansion, product category management and high revenue/profit growth. He has substantial experience at leading multi-site distribution, retail and manufacturing enterprises in Fortune 500, private equity and start-up entrepreneurial environments (Grainger, AAR Corp, FleetPride, Lennox).
Former management consultant (Starbucks, Disney, Hewlett-Packard). Cultural sensitivity built through travel to more than 89 countries.
Eric earned a Bachelor of Arts double major in Economics and Sociology, as well a Master of Arts in Organizational Behavior from Stanford University, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business for which he received the “Top 10” Dean’s Award.
Khadija James-Keating was named Head, Global Talent Acquisition Operations, Inclusion & Diversity, Recruiting for U.S. Sales and Services, Corporate Functions, and University Relations for a MRO industry leader in 2017. She currently leads a talent acquisition operations team, various recruiting functions and the inclusion and diversity strategy supporting talent for over 6,000 roles annually and an annual operating budget of up to $10M.
Prior to this role, Mrs. James-Keating was a Vice President, Regional Sales leading a sales effort with up to 800 team members, developing strategy and tactics to support sustainable revenue growth of up to $600M annually across various segments in the industry while driving cross-functional partnerships to help support customer needs.
Before entering the MRO industry, Mrs. James-Keating held a number of leadership positions across an array of functions bringing 20 years of leadership and critical experiences varying from sales, sales operations and supply chain at PepsiCo’s Frito Lay Division. Prior to her tenure at Frito Lay, Mrs. James-Keating served the country proudly as a commissioned officer in the United States Army.
She is involved in various community activities related to education and professional development of underrepresented groups.
Mrs. James-Keating is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering and applied mathematics.