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Inspiring Conversations with Archita Mandal of UpendNow

Today we’d like to introduce you to Archita Mandal.

Hi Archita, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
My journey as a storyteller perhaps began in 1990. I was 14 and vacationing in India when the Gulf War broke out in Kuwait, where we lived. We could not return home for a couple of years. To cope, I started writing.

Soon it became apparent to me that I had a knack for visualizing my stories in great detail. Even as I pursued a career in technology, I realized my urge to tell stories was intense and I started writing scripts. I assisted independent film directors in art direction and production design. In 2011, I felt ready to take the plunge and directed my first short sci-fi thriller. I founded my own production house, Tapping Wand Productions, which created award-winning short films, feature documentaries, a music video, PSAs and a talk show during COVID. I quit my corporate job just before the pandemic hit to develop a feature documentary on DIPG cancer. I realized quickly the inefficiencies that riddle the traditional filmmaking world. I decided to put my documentary plans on hold and work on a startup that would break down some of these barriers and create more opportunities for creators and creatives.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
A smooth road? Wouldn’t that be a treat! I think I am hard-wired to take the bumpy route. I quit a cushy tech job to pursue full-time filmmaking just before the pandemic hit. By that time, I had already written, directed and produced The Nair House – a short film now on Amazon Prime and Pocket Films – and completed an executive management one-year program from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

For independent, self-funded, self-taught filmmakers like me, everything from conception to execution to distribution was a one-person job. Funding and distribution have always been challenging.

Now as a start-up founder, I am once again on a path that has lived up to its reputation of not being for the faint-hearted. Everything about my entrepreneurial journey is atypical – I am a woman and mother in my 40s, I straddle two worlds of filmmaking and tech, and I am fundraising in a hostile investment environment. This makes it harder for other professionals and investors to put me in a box. I don’t fit the mold.

So be it. I define who I am. I do not let others’ perceptions become my reality. I have enough grit and determination to pursue my goals. More importantly, I focus on enjoying the journey and learning from it.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
UpendNow is the first-ever digital platform and app for businesses to hire services to create high-production videos/films in a frictionless way. Our vision is to make video/film production accessible and easy to produce, much like how social media removed gatekeepers and made markets directly accessible to all businesses. In essence, we are a marketplace that bypasses large agencies and professional networks by connecting film/video creatives to customers who need videos in a seamless manner. This is as much a game-changer for creatives as it is for customers.

Currently, there is no streamlined digital marketplace to match and connect video/film professionals to right-sized projects. This is a lost opportunity for creatives. UpendNow is that digital space where you cut creator burnout and encash your talent when and how you want to. I am a filmmaker with a technology background; I have a first-hand understanding of how video/film production works, its pain points, and how technology can create big opportunities for businesses and creatives alike by easing the production process and workflow management.

We successfully made our first pilot customer video, where our client was a local business and the creative an award-winning film director on the East Coast. It was not only the first commercial video for both client and director, it was also the first time that the director had done a project remotely! It was a roaring success and we are so proud of it.
Currently we are fundraising and servicing new clients.

If you are a creative or a business and haven’t already, do sign up for early access
@ for updates and opportunities.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
Ask for help and ask early. Although it’s great to be self-reliant, there are bound to be gaps in your knowledge that will become apparent only when you engage with experienced professionals relevant to your work. Put forward your ask right away and don’t be afraid of rejection. This will significantly speed up the delivery process. Had I known this before, I would have caught speed in the first year of my business. Time to market is key. If you lose that sweet spot you might get caught up in a market downturn, the kind we are experiencing today. However, be aware that once you open up to advice, there’s a tsunami coming your way. Not every piece of advice will work for you. Learn to parse suggestions for fit, contradictions and motive. Will this suggestion work for me and my product? Cut out the noise. This is an acquired skill, so be patient.

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