Impacting Data Science to Social Empowerment: Venkatesh Mandapati’s Inspiring Journey

"Impacting Data Science to Social Empowerment: Venkatesh Mandapati's Inspiring Journey"
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Immigrant entrepreneurs, particularly ones within data science are creating strong waves of impact in the United States and across the globe. With their innovative ideas, diverse perspectives, and cross functional skill set, they contribute to the vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem and drive technological advancements in the U.S. These individuals bring a wealth of knowledge and skills, often shaped by their unique cultural backgrounds and experiences, which fuel their ability to tackle complex problems and create groundbreaking solutions. Their contributions not only stimulate economic growth but also foster cultural diversity and promote global collaboration.

One such remarkable individual who exemplifies the impact of immigrant entrepreneurs and data scientists is Venkatesh Mandapati. Venkatesh (Venki) Mandapati, an accomplished individual with a diverse range of talents, including entrepreneurship, podcast hosting, data science, and product advocacy, embarked on an incredible journey that exemplifies his unwavering determination and resounding achievements. Since his early years, Venkatesh exhibited exceptional leadership abilities and unwavering commitment, representing his high school in the prestigious Indian Air Force National Cadet Corps program and actively engaging in training camps and community service initiatives.

After graduating with distinction in engineering in 2012, Venkatesh began his professional journey as a software engineer at Cognizant Technology Solutions. Through this role, he collaborated with clients from around the world, gaining invaluable exposure to the realm of transformative technology and the vast array of opportunities it presents.

In 2015, Venkatesh’s academic prowess earned him a research scholarship for a Master’s program in Information Technology at the University of Memphis. Driven by a passion for learning and an innate curiosity for emerging technologies, he delved into the realm of data science, further honing his skills. During his graduate studies, Venkatesh undertook various research projects, including groundbreaking work on “Data insights to help reduce crime in Memphis neighborhoods,” which earned him the prestigious first-place award at the annual TechUP conference by the Association of Management Information Systems.

The experiences gained throughout his educational journey provided Venkatesh with a profound realization: people worldwide face similar challenges due to a lack of opportunities, guidance, and access to resources. Determined to address this issue, Venkatesh resolved to find a solution for himself and millions of others.

After completing his studies, Venkatesh began his professional career as a digital analyst at AutoZone Inc., meticulously analyzing vast quantities of customer analytics from and Guided by his unwavering spirit and commitment to enhancing customer experiences, he led the implementation of a new web data capture strategy, resulting in a reduction of vendor expenses by almost $250K annually.

In October 2017, Venkatesh embarked on a new chapter in his career, joining FedEx as a Senior Data Scientist. Tasked with assisting the Digital Marketing team in formulating innovative strategies to enhance customer interactions on, Venkatesh leveraged his expertise to collaborate with teams across the globe on multifaceted projects. His impact extended beyond his primary responsibilities, as he trained over 100 FedEx team members worldwide on cutting-edge web analytics tools, facilitating the seamless adoption of new technologies.

In recognition of his exceptional contributions, Venkatesh was promoted to the role of Data Scientist Advisor in 2020. This pivotal career milestone marked the beginning of an extraordinary phase, during which he played an instrumental role in launching the revolutionary shipping application, MAGIC. Through his expertise in developing data models, defining product KPIs, and working closely with product management teams, Venkatesh facilitated significant increases in new customer adoption and customer retention. Moreover, he demonstrated exceptional leadership by managing a $4.2 million annual budget as the designated budget lead for the Managing Director. These achievements earned him the distinguished “Shining Star Award” at FedEx, solidifying his reputation as a luminary within the organization.

During his MBA studies at the University of Memphis in 2018, Venkatesh’s passion for creating impactful products grew exponentially. As a resident at the University of Memphis Crews Center for Entrepreneurship, he actively participated in various national and international business plan competitions, further fueling his entrepreneurial ambitions.

Venkatesh attributes his remarkable success to the invaluable guidance and support he received from his mentors, recognizing the profound impact they had on his journey. Motivated to extend similar opportunities to others, he founded UpSquad, a visionary platform that partners with organizations committed to making a difference in their communities. UpSquad empowers nonprofits, schools, government agencies, and businesses to build cohesive online communities, streamlining their tools and amplifying engagement. By seamlessly integrating multiple capabilities, including video conferencing, messaging, event management, social networking, and data insights, UpSquad facilitates the achievement of organizational goals.

In 2020, Venkatesh was accepted into the prestigious University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education Entrepreneurship Master’s program, renowned for fostering groundbreaking education startups. Through this program, he deepened his understanding of business dynamics while pursuing his passion for education and social change. Combining elements of business, education, design, and entrepreneurship, the program equipped Venkatesh with the entrepreneurial mindset necessary to launch a successful global education startup, providing workforce opportunities to individuals who would otherwise be deprived of such prospects. Throughout his journey, Venkatesh raised over $1.3 million in funding, transforming UpSquad into a reality.

Through incubators, accelerator programs, and interactions with experienced mentors and fellow entrepreneurs, Venkatesh embraced lean methodologies and customer discovery principles. These iterative processes allowed him to truly understand the core problems and pivot UpSquad accordingly, propelling it to its current stage of success.

Today, UpSquad collaborates with over 25 organizations throughout the United States, making a tangible difference in diverse domains. Whether connecting underserved youth in Chicago with career counselors, facilitating mentorship programs for high school students in Nashville, or linking students with professionals for summer programs in Arkansas, UpSquad empowers individuals and organizations alike to realize their full potential. Notably, Venkatesh’s innovative platform has supported the growth of minority businesses in Minnesota while fostering meaningful connections between medical students and professors at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Venkatesh’s exceptional journey is punctuated by numerous accolades, including his recognition as one of the University of Memphis’ “Top 20 under 30” in 2020. Furthermore, UpSquad garnered acclaim as a “Top 64 Student Startup in the US ” by SXSW in 2019 and a feature in the prestigous NY Weekly. Venkatesh’s visionary leadership and innovation were also acknowledged through awards such as the “Shining Star Award” at FedEx and the “Rising Star Award” in 2023. Additionally, his podcast, “Driven by Doing,” captivated audiences, empowering them to take action and effect change.

Throughout his awe-inspiring career, Venkatesh Varma Mandapati, also known as Venki, has remained steadfast in his pursuit of transforming lives through education, technology, and entrepreneurial excellence. With an unwavering commitment to creating a brighter future, he continues to leave an indelible mark on the world, inspiring others to follow in his footsteps.



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