The Story Behind Upbeater — How we came to be a hub for new talent and innovation

Petra SundellUncategorized

Founder Petra Sundell during her time at UCLA Extention.

The story of Upbeater started in Los Angeles in 2015 when our founder and CEO Petra Sundell was studying and working at UCLA Extension to top-up her previous education while developing a new startup idea she had.

“It was great, I got to study things that interest me together with talented students from around the world while developing my new idea. We also had a lot of fun, and (as a Swede) the weather was great!”

But pretty soon she discovered a problem that started to worry her.

I saw some really good talent and innovation go to waste,” says Petra, as many of her fellow classmates and entrepreneurs struggled to kickstart their careers.

And the reason was not because of a lack of competence or creativity. Instead, she explains the issue as 2 catch-22 problems;

“Students struggle to get jobs in their field because they lack experience — but if they can’t get a job in their field, they won’t be able to get the experience they need.

Startups, on the other hand, struggle to grow because they lack resources — but if they can’t grow, they won’t be able to attract the resources they need.”

These dilemmas have negative consequences.

Because when students can’t get a job in their field and start building a career they want, they eventually have to start looking for other jobs that will “pay the bills”. But those jobs rarely use the competencies and skills of the talent to the full potential, simply because it’s not the right fit. And the longer someone is away from their field, the harder it is to get back to it.

This is what Petra refers to when she’s talking about that “driven and innovative talent go to waste”.

And she argues that the same happens when it comes to innovation. Because when startups lack resources, they’re forced to hustle their way forward with very little means. They grow slower than desired, struggle to move forward, and many times have to compromise on quality. This increases the risk of failure and that many great initiatives are forced to shut down.

As more of Petra’s classmates and fellow entrepreneurs, all of whom she described as extremely driven and talented, had to give up on their dreams and go in other directions when reality forced them to put food on the table, her frustration grew to a need to act.

The students are our future employees and startups are our future employers. Just because they don’t have anything to show as proof of their abilities right now doesn’t mean they should be overlooked. We’ve all started somewhere, and if we’re not willing to give others the benefit of the doubt, we are likely to miss out on great opportunities.”

Dare to take a bet.

Petra herself has in her journey with Upbeater taken a chance on many fresh talent and innovation projects and offered them a foot in the door. “When you give someone a chance, show them that you believe in them, let them prove to you what they can do, and then watch them grow beyond your imagination, it doesn’t get any better than that. We aim to tell more stories about this here in the blog, so make sure to follow us if you’re interested.

For Petra, solving this problem seemed like a great opportunity to make a real & meaningful impact. So she started thinking about a solution that would help students gain experiences and build portfolios that would help them verify their skills and competencies, while at the same time give startups access to an affordable yet qualitative service that would offer them help with their growth needs.

One of the first solution sketches.

And when she realized that students and startups are each other’s perfect match when it comes to helping each other get one step closer to reaching their respective goals, the concept of Upbeater was born.

Students and startups are both in the development phase, and they don’t need a top-of-the-line solution. They just need somewhere to start, an opportunity that would open doors for them, a chance to continue to grow and develop, and a way to get to the next level. And that’s what Upbeater is dedicated to providing.