Colby Arceneaux Brings It Full Circle In Oxford: From The Gridiron To The Boardroom
Ole Miss alumni, athlete founds unique and innovative insurance company, Upstream Life.
Leave it to an Ole Miss alumni–and former Rebel football and baseball player on the field–to come up with an original and innovative business that, the founder suggests, aims to put the South on the radar as a major life insurance player–as well as provide excellent, unique customer service and services.
Colby Arceneaux is the co-founder of Upstream Life, a life insurance company that creates the products they provide, not just selling them on behalf of other agencies. The norm today for most insurance agencies is to represent or act as brokers for the big national firm. Colby’s approach is different because Upstream is the national firm–a unique state domiciled life insurance company (either in Louisiana or Mississippi–the decision has not yet been made). His competitors are the big boys–but most of them, of course, are based out of the larger national markets. Upstream is as Southern as–well–SEC sports.
“We wanted to start our company, create unique products, and manage investment based in Mississippi, and Louisiana, ” Colby tells us. “And what’s been great so far is that our clients and associates that come down here for business are taken aback by the culture, the authenticity of the friendliness and all of the great things the south has to offer. But we are also here to help the Southern-based lower-to-middle market companies that need investment from one source but don’t have the resources a J.P. Morgan would require to even review or the time to gather all of the numerous lenders that a smaller bank would require them to assemble to even obtain, say, $3 million in capital. We want those companies in our investment portfolio.”
Upstream Life Insurance was founded in 2015, Colby says. “It’s full service life insurance that will also offer annuity products,” he says, “so our goal is to create a life insurance company that will create new products and bridge the gap between fixed and variable annuities. It’s great both for the consumers and the agents. We’ll be a national insurance carrier but we will proudly be domiciled in the South which, again, is important to us,” he continues.
Based in Oxford, having just moved back to his college town a mere few weeks ago, Colby notes that his background in finance as the CFO for a family business led him to see the need for a new type of capital provider especially in the lower-middle market. “Those companies and businesses really have an incredibly difficult go of it when it comes to obtaining capital to start up or expand,” he explains. “In trying to access capital in my role as CFO in for our family run energy service business, we also decided to be a company that could help those others, like us, in similar situations. My partner, Derek Hebert, and his family have an extensive background in insurance product and services so we brainstormed, created unique life insurance products, –and plan to manage an initial $5 billion right here out of Oxford.”
“We’ve been successful to this point and have met our initial goals,” Colby answers when asked where Upstream is now, “and we’ve also satisfied all of the regulatory bodies that we’re involved with. There’s a strenuous approval process to go through and we’ve worked very hard to get to this point. Getting through the regulatory environment and meeting the requirements has been our biggest hurdle, so the biggest success and biggest challenge thus far have been the same, really.”
Colby says Upstream has partnered with marketing agencies and IMOs, along with a network of independent agencies, and are getting the company’s product into their hands.
His love of Ole Miss came from his family’s relationship with former Ole Miss head coach, Ed Orgeron–that explains how a South Louisiana guy made the move to Ole Miss, Colby says. “I’ve known him all of my life and he recruited me to play ball here at Ole Miss along with Coach Frank Wilson, with football and baseball scholarships. But my love of the University really grew even more when I met my future wife here. Morgan is a North Mississippi native and we’ve been married now for seven years, together for more than ten, and she had loved Ole Miss from early on, naturally.” The couple is the parents of two children: son, Duke, who will be three in November and daughter, Piper, who turns one in November.
Playing safety on the football team and a second baseman “by trade”, Colby admits that he always has the urge to put the jersey back on when he attends Rebel games. “Happens all the time,” he laughs. “I go hang out on the field with my kids and I do get the bug, without a doubt!”
Graduating in 2010 with both a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Accounting, Colby went on to Tulane Graduate School where he obtained both a Master’s Degree in Accounting and Energy and then to the University of Chicago Booth School of Business to gain expertise in Mergers and Acquisitions. Obviously his background was preparing him for the entrepreneurial venture he went on to indeed start.
But where does he see Upstream in five years?
“We see ourselves managing and continuing to expand our unique insurance business,” Arceneaux answers. “We’re not a traditional insurance company now and we won’t be then,” he predicts with an obvious air of certainty.
“I’m so excited and happy to be back in Oxford,” Arceneaux concludes. “It’s fantastic. We love the hometown feel and we’re so glad to have the business here, as well.
To learn more about Upstream Life, visit UpstreamLife.us or call 1-877-543-3504.