Archive Valley

Bridging Past and Future: An Interview with Archive Valley CEO Melanie Rozencwajg

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What inspired you to create Archive Valley?

We initially created a tech and design studio in 2010 called ARTCHIVIUMlab whose focus was archives and innovation. It was a very new field back at the time!

Over seven years, we had the privilege to collaborate with many renowned museums and heritage brands, helping them to harness the power of their archival collections. While the core of our practice was to create innovative displays aimed at allowing the contemporary public to interact with archival documents, in one project we found ourselves searching for treasure troves of archive material in Russia, China, Argentina, Canada, Israel and more. You can imagine the hours of research such a process required! 

We couldn’t believe that all those archive providers scattered all around the world with unique material were so hard to reach. As content creators, we thought that it would be amazing to have a platform that would connect us directly with unique archive providers across the world. Archive Valley naturally followed as the brainchild of our process at ARTCHIVIUMlab.

Why archives? What is special about this world to you?

Archives are the permanent and living evidence of our world. Archives are everywhere and have a striking power, but audiences have become immune to the same old stock footage everyone has already used. Out there, hundreds of unique collections remain dormant or are only known by a few and we wanted to give them the visibility they deserve.

Content creators should all have the privilege of working with unique archive material to create compelling stories that can shape our world with fresh perspectives. This is what we found so fascinating and what drives our team in passionately building and developing Archive Valley everyday!

What have been the biggest challenges in bringing Archive Valley’s beta version to life? How have the initial reactions been?

The biggest challenge was to create the initial beta community of Archive Researchers. We started with the researchers because we thought that their knowledge and skill set should be celebrated. We also wanted to be an international platform right from the start. It was a challenging process as there is no protocol in terms of job titles and descriptions in different countries: we had to spend hours and hours to find the first hundred researchers to join our platform. From there it started to grow more organically.

Today our community of researchers and archive providers covers more than 50 countries, and we are hearing from production companies interested in the beta version every day.

The initial reactions are very positive both from the researchers’ and providers’ sides. They are excited to share this journey with us, and this gives us a lot of comfort and confidence in pursuing our goals and ultimately our vision for the company!

What are you trying to bring to the licensing market or change about the market?

There are so many layers of complexity involved in the research process. We believe the licensing market would benefit from some simplification. We are on a mission to make it easy and painless to access unique archives on demand.

To back it up we’re working to develop a proprietary matchmaking technology to ensure that content creators will get their footage requests matched with responses from the most relevant providers. We are already thinking about some exciting AI integrations, something that will totally enhance and transform the research experience of our users and potentially make for a delightful process.

Where do you see Archive Valley going in the next couple of years? What is the big audacious goal here?

Our vision for the next couple of years is to cover all the countries of the world by integrating a wider net of vetted professional archive researchers and archive providers to ensure that quality and uniqueness of footage are ensured on Archive Valley. The big audacious goal will be to enable content makers to access even the most rare audiovisual material all while protecting the unique status of this material and continuing to simplify the research and licensing process.

What advice would you have for someone interested in starting a business in the media tech sector?

Follow your dreams. Practice sports. Be resilient. Talk to experts in your field. The golden rule is “always keep listening to your users.” Be attentive to your users’ needs and comments. The tech-media world is booming right now and there are a lot of exciting opportunities to be seized!

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