Startup Weekend London Food – WINNERS!

Thanks to everyone who made this event a SUCCESS!


Now the champions of the champions, here are the winners and their prizes:

1st Prize: Enlabed

  • Move professional kitchens from the Stone Age to the digital era starting with food labeling
  • Team: Marco C, Gianluca N, JJ T
  • Prize: 1-month membership at WeWork Moorgate for the team, Crowdfooding mentorship/advisory

2nd Prize: Recipes for Now

  • App suggesting recipes to time-poor shoppers based on local grocery inventory
  • Team: Nelson C, Tyson R, André L, Renata L, Hans-Jan K
  • Prize: Cinnamon Bridge workshops

3rd Prize: Feed Me

  • Are you hungry? Show you pictures of food and then take you there. Tinder for food
  • Team: Abdul K, Rebecca C, Rob J, Teslim A, Tunde O, Elise L
  • Prize: Startup Manufactory workshop

Each of the top 3 teams will also receive a Shaken cocktail box — our gifts for their celebration parties!

Honorable mentions:

  • Brain Bars
  • Fridge Wizzard
  • Freet
  • Shift

And let’s not forget about the MVPs!

  • Brain Bars – Estelle
  • Enlabeler – JJ
  • Feed Me – Rob
  • Fridge Wizzard – Evert
  • Freet – Ash
  • Shift – Nic
  • Recipes for Now – Hans

They are getting free HelloFresh boxes, so get cookin’ 😉


On Friday, 13 Nov, Startup Weekend friends old and new came together in London at Innovation Warehouse for networking, learnings and drinks.

Many thanks to Innovation Warehouse for providing the space, and to Big Hug Brewing and Vita Coco for spoiling us with drinks for the evening.

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David Haber, Lead Software Engineer at Soma Analytics and Co-founder of Import Classes, shared his top web development tools for non-developers, giving the attendees of our upcoming event a toolkit to ‘hack’ their way to a Startup Weekend win.  David has kindly shared a list of the tools he discussed here.



Next up, we welcomed our panel of previous SW winners to discuss their experiences and top tips for SW success.  The panel featured JinA Bae from ChopChop, Ray Ziai from Mode for Me, and Amalia Agathou, seasoned Startup Weekend mentor and organizer.  Everyone agreed – Startup Weekend played a crucial role in building the network they needed to get their startups off the ground.  Some of our favourite quotes from the panel included:

  • “Be translucent about your skills and be specific to what you can bring to the table and what you are looking for. Become friends and bond with your team beyond the Startup Weekend.”
  • “Make the most of the mentors!”
  • “Be flexible and make sure you validate your idea. You might find out something you didn’t know as you go.”
  • Bootstrap as long as you can – the more progress you’ve made, the more negotiating power you have”


Thanks to everyone for making this a great evening!

Don’t forget to sign up for our upcoming event, Startup Weekend Food, 4-6 Dec, where you might meet your next co-founders and can put all of this great advice into practice! 

For any questions, email us at:




Are you hangry for tech? We are

The team here at Startup Weekend London Food is as diverse and international as London itself. Before moving to London, none of us were necessarily expecting a foodie experience. But London proved us wrong with the energy of its food enthusiasts and wealth of food options. It’s safe to say we aren’t hangry very often.

The ever growing startup scene is an equally exciting part of London.  So naturally, we wanted to combine our love of food (and drink) and technology to launch Startup Weekend Food – bringing together pioneering entrepreneurs in the technology and food industries looking to disrupt the way we find, distribute, and look at food.

On 4-6 December, you’ll have 54 hours to combine your love of technology, food, and drink and launch a startup! The event will be held at the beautiful new WeWork Moorgate offices. Keep an eye on this space as we start to announce the exciting mentors and judges we have on board.  Not to mention some of the sponsors who will be fueling us with delicious local goodness throughout the weekend.  #yum

Know a great company or entrepreneur that you think should be part of this event as a sponsor or mentor? Just want to learn more? Get in touch with us at:

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook


Why fashion technology is about a wearable future.


We are running Startup Weekend London Fashion & Technology at WeWork next Friday (18th Sep) and lots of people have been asking us what the ‘Fashion & Tech Industry’ is.

Is Fashion & Tech about fashionistas designing garments? Not in our view. It’s about bringing style, utility and the Internet of things (IoT) to the masses and its arguably the hottest market at the moment blending in 3D printing with web APIs, exciting mobile apps and sexy web portals incorporating the best in social media interactivity.

You might be asking yourself how you will manage to create the next connected shoes that allow you to track your daily activities in only 54 hours, right? That is a good question. It is true that we expect you to come up with a prototype of your business idea at the end of the weekend but a clarification needs to be made on the word ‘prototype’. It can mean a basic version of your product, such as a connected shoe but it can also be the first version of your web/mobile app, a landing page presenting your idea or even design sketches and wireframes! Our judges are more interested in hearing about the hypotheses you made on Friday night and how you tested them with potential stakeholder and customers’ feedback.

To help you find inspiration for the weekend, here are 6 hot startups in the fashion and tech industry that are rocking it:

1. Vinted


Headquarters: Vilnius, Lithuania

Secondhand clothing marketplace Vinted has raised $32.6 million from Insight Venture Partners and Accel Partners, most recently in a Series B round in January 2014.  Founded by Justas Janauskas and Milda Mitkute, Vinted is a peer-to-peer marketplace for girls and women to buy, sell and swap clothes that also serves as a social network by allowing users to chat. The startup began in 2008 as a small community for Lithuanian girls, but now has over 7 million users in eight countries and is handling over 200 million requests per day.

2. Miinto


Headquarters: Copenhagen, Denmark

Miinto, based on an idea by high school entrepreneurs Konrad Kierklo, the other co-founder, and Mike Radoor, aims to do for clothes what Just Eat does for food, bringing its fashion-hungry customers in four countries more than 200,000 items of clothing (and other “fashion products”) from 1,300 shops.

3. LIFT12


Headquarters: Singapore

The company, which raised $560,000 in a 2013 seed round, uses Web crawlers to scrape data about fashion trends, pricing and sales from fashion labels and retailers. It uses this information to design what it has determined customers want, in the form of its Blake & Co. womenswear and its 9fountains menswear labels. New collections are released every six weeks, allowing LIFT12 to react quickly to new trends – whether that means restocking popular items, designing variations of it, or stopping to sell items when they go out of style.

4. Poshmark


Headquarters: Menlo Park, California (U.S.)

Inveterate shoppers always looking to add one more thing to their closet have a problem: Their closets don’t usually expand just because their wardrobes do. Mobile closet swap Poshmark allows women to empty some hangers, fund their next shopping spree and go on said spree all in one place, which they can access through the company website or their phones or iPads. Poshmark also has a social element: Posh Parties, as the company calls its themed, which are real-time sales. It takes care of postage and says it refunds payments if an order doesn’t arrive or the item doesn’t match the description.

5. Showroom


Headquarters: Warsaw, Poland

Founded in 2012 by Michal Juda, Jasiek Stasz and Nick Sergeant, Showroom is an e-commerce platform that facilitates clothing purchases from independent fashion brands and designers from Central and Eastern Europe, with the designers uploading photos and posting descriptions of the items themselves and consumers buying straight from the designers. In 2012 Burda International, publisher of Elle and nearly 300 other magazine titles, took a 25 percent stake in Showroom after an undisclosed investment. The startup has used Facebook to its advantage, tripling its traffic on the social media site in 2012 and doubling its turnover after users were asked to “like” their favorite products – except that Showroom called it “wow!” instead, Goal Europe reported.



Headquarters: London, United Kingdom

High Fashion meets High Tech: WonderLuk gives confident, style-conscious women a destination where they can purchase customized avant-garde 3D printed fashion jewelry and accessories. All products are made to order near the customer, avoiding overproduction or waste. The company is based in London and was founded by Roberta Lucca and Andre Schober in 2013 before it was launched in April 2014.


In short, why not spend your weekend being part of a global disruptive movement acquiring the new skills of tomorrow. Join Startup Weekend and be a part of it! For those registering between the 12 to 13th of Sep use the 50% discount ‘SALE50’.





FAD: How to cover 'Cool Art Stuff' online

FAD’s founder and editor in chief Mark Westall has a bit of a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Starting in style magazine publishing in the 1990s he quickly became known for nabbing then-unknowns such as The Spice Girls and Oasis for coverstars, but the nascent digital world soon captured his attention. Repurposing his magazine’s creative teams to the new world of website development, he was at the forefront of the advance of brands into digital, producing award winning digital experiences for brands including Campaign, Levi’s and Jolly Ranchers. When the advertising industry noticed this new field, he sold his business to Leo Burnett, going on to lead the agency’s digital division for 5 years, working for companies like P&G, Kellog’s, McDonald’s and Disney. Looking for something more, he moved first into community education and culture initiatives, producing the award winning for the NHS, and the pan-European youth initiative before in 2008 following his passion for art and founding what has grown to become FADwebsite.

Focused on emerging and contemporary art, FADwebsite aims to shine a light on new talents and develop our understanding of those we already know a little about.

FADwebsite is internationally recognized as a key figure within the emerging and contemporary art world, and has been selected as official partner by organizations as diverse as Moving Image, Volta and Christie’s.

In addition to leading FADwebsite, Mark is a director of, the marketing services agency for the art world and those who wish to engage with it, a columnist for City and Canary Wharf Magazines and expert advisor to bi-annual art fair Strarta.

In this interview, Mark talks about his experience of founding and growing an arts publication.


What is FAD?

FAD Website is a curation of the world’s most interesting art and culture. We do news, reviews, and in-depth pieces about the things we’ve found. We also highlight upcoming events, act as a platform for new artists and a place for more established artists to share their thoughts in longer interviews.

FAD Website is the sister of FAD Agency, a strategy and creative agency that creates and implements strategic branding, advertising and communications campaigns for brands and organisations that believe, like we do, that being really interesting makes everyone more appealing.

How and why did you set up the project?

I’d published style magazines back in the nineties before a digital agency I set up got brought by an advertising agency (Leo Burnett). Working for massive brands like McDonald’s and P&G was fun, but I missed the creativity and freedom of publishing, and I wanted to bring together the things I was in love with by then: contemporary art, the digital world and publishing. The agency has grown organically out of the website as brands have approached us to do more in-depth projects and we’ve been able to offer more services.

How disruptive is your business? What do you do differently from traditional media outlets?

In some ways my business is pretty traditional journalism – I find things out and write about them (or one of our writers does). In other ways I think FAD is emblematic of the changes that have taken place across the publishing world. We started out as a print title, three issues later we were a website. We’ve changed a bit over the years and, in fact, will be changing again shortly as the site’s being redesigned at the moment. Watch this space…

You’ve covered a lot of interesting art and culture over the years. Any particular highlights that stand out?

No – FAD is about NOW

Originally set up in London, you now have a global presence. What are the main differences in the art market across the globe?

As a publication we see the art market from a different perspective than other parts of the industry might. We tend to focus on things we think are interesting – and because of that, people come and tell you about things they think are interesting too.
An example of this playing out is that while we know that London’s the busiest art market in the world in terms of volume and value, what we see at FAD is the huge quantity, and extraordinary quality of the UK’s emerging art scene. Similarly, whilst the auction rooms in New York get a lot of press, what we tend to hear about most are things like amazing pop artists in LA, and the incredibly energetic street art scene in Mexico.

What trends do you see happening in the area of art and technology?

Art, like technology is becoming really integrated into people’s lives, and part of that means that like technology, we’re hearing a lot about collaborations. So where you get Apple collaborating with all these fashion people for the watch, what we’re seeing in art is a lot of visual artists working with poets, performance artists and video artists.

What advice would you give to arts entrepreneurs?

Spend a bit of time getting to understand the world you’re getting in to. The art world is full of people who make because they can’t imagine doing anything else, and sometimes that means they are really naive about money. There have been examples of companies coming into the market who have kind of trodden on those people, and I think successful arts entrepreneurs are people who look after the dreamers, as well as the backers.

Inspired? Find out more about Startup Weekend Art London!

Hack and Craft : A Product Developer's Perspective on the Future of Technology in the Arts

Harry McCarney, Managing Director at Hack & Craft, will be a coach at Startup Weekend Art London. Hack & Craft has built a wide range of innovative products for startups and aspirational corporates. As an engineer, Harry has built algorithms for investment banks, anti-fraud systems for dating companies and payment platforms for crowd-funding companies. He has also founded and invested in several startups including the first EU community crowd-funding site and Harry talks about his work at Hack & Craft and the future of art and technology.


What is Hack & Craft? 

Hack & Craft helps entrepreneurs and companies innovate. We work at the cross roads of design, technology and product management to take ideas from ideation through to launch. This end-to-end approach allows us to work with a very broad range of technology in variety of sectors. What unites our work is the belief that small, feedback-driven iterations are the key to building disruptive products which solve real problems.

What are some of the most technologically innovative projects you’ve worked on recently?

This year we have built a music graph api for the San Francisco based startup Senzari.
The algorithms that run on the music graph are fast becoming the intelligence that powers some of the best known music recommendation services. We look at details like chord progressions, key, tempos, instrumentation and around 2k other data points to work out what music you like and send you more of it.

We are also working with Axel Springer to build some grass roots driven innovation for the publishing industry. This will be live by the end of of the year but I cannot say anything about it yet. Another project this year is an org visualization platform project for General Electric. This technology will allow organizations of global size to implement cross-functional teams whilst still tracking resources and project dependencies across multinational structures.

In your career to date, you have built a number of products for different industries, including the arts. How technologically developed is the arts industry in comparison to others? How can it catch up?

The arts seems to be a very traditional industry in which a few players are very well established. This means tech innovation whilst slow has the potential to be hugely disruptive. I think is fairly inevitable that this will happen.

How do you think technology will affect the art industry in the future?

I think we will see many niche SaaS B2B companies aimed at galleries and collectors. The less obvious developments will be on the consumer side. It is clear that technology and the Internet can democratize access to art just as they have to information and culture more generally,  but I am not sure what form this will take. In recent years, there have also been many examples of technology being used in the production and exhibition of art. Artists are selling youtube accounts, domains and single page javascript animations. HnC News, which is Hack and Craft’s round up of innovation and grass roots entrepreneurship, ran an interesting article on this here.  Augmented reality may also reduce the traditional role of the ‘gallery’ as place to consume art.

Any advice for entrepreneurs who want to disrupt the arts sector?

Personally I would focus on uses of technology that discover new art lovers and change the way art is consumed. Building a business which is dependent on partnerships with the traditional art industry is going to be very slow and difficult. If you can introduce new models, then the established names will come to you. Specifically, I think there will be room for an web-based market place for art made entirely of code.

Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at the Startup Weekend Art London in October!

Using Social Media to Attract New Audiences to the Arts

Theodora Clarke, coach on Startup Weekend Art London, started with a blog 18 months ago. Her online magazine is now read by more than 60,000 people worldwide.



She has shared with us how to use social media to attract new audiences to the arts, from her own successful experience:

There is no denying the power of social media and how it can impact on cultural organisations from huge museums, like Tate or the National Gallery, through to small organisations such as my blog Russian Art and Culture. Our website publishes the best reviews, articles and news on Russian art, related exhibitions and interesting cultural events worldwide.


When I set up Russian Art and Culture in 2011 I never expected it to become a business.  The original project was a free blog that I built myself with no computer coding background and maintained at weekends whilst I was a student. It was through social media that I gradually built up a community of followers, and turned the blog into a website which now publishes a print magazine and organises a major art fair Russian Art Week.

Facebook and Twitter were fundamental to our success as they allowed the site to be found by academics, curators, researchers and members of the public with an interest in Russian art and culture who we would never have been able to reach by traditional means.


Social media acts as a direct link to our readership. Not only does it allow us to advertise the events that we promote, but readers can connect with us and interact by putting forward their events for us to promote. With the majority of our readership using one or more of these mobile platforms, we are able to reach people around the world and also provide a more approachable, human side to our organisation.


We live in a global community where people are now all connected through the internet. The conventional advantages of ‘word of mouth’ advertising are now amplified through social media. People trust the opinions of their peers, so a ‘Like’ on Facebook is a significant endorsement. We have seen that through social media a new ‘Like’ will also attract the attention of friends and allows awareness of our website and organisation to grow organically. Here are my top tips for effective social media use:


  • Social media posts shouldn’t be too text heavy, images and graphics attract attention a great deal more attention. For example tweeting images of works in your collection, Tate is a good example of this.
  • Engage as much as possible – keep it up to date and with plenty of information.
  • Modify your posts to the type of social media platform you are using; Facebook and Twitter are used in different ways.
  • Keep the quality of your posts to a high standard – don’t post absolutely everything.
  • Build up a community before you use social media for advertising.


Proactively using social media is a huge benefit, but it is also important to consider your search engine optimisation. Tagging website posts with appropriate key words will help your site to appear in Google search results. Using key words rather than numbers to label your images and key words for your website post titles will also contribute to Google search results. If you are publishing content from another website, such as our event listings, your website will appear fairly low on the list of Google search results, so it is important to post unique content.


Data capture tools are invaluable in order to monitor how your website and social media outlets are being used. We use the free email and marketing distributor MailChimp, which allows us to view statistics on the open rate and click rate of our emails and campaigns. Google Analytics is a free data capture tool which allows a better understanding of the demographics of our website visitors, and how they use the website. Through this tool we discovered that the most read pages on our website were our news page, job page, and article page. This enabled us to develop and improve these areas. We also check our visitors’ location, and the ratio of new and returning visitors. In November 2013 11% of visitors to Russian Art and Culture had been referred through social media, which attests to the importance of keeping our social media updated and relevant. Using these data capture tools has really impacted on how we direct our information.


It is wise for any cultural organisation, no matter the size, to invest in a strong media strategy in order to engage with readers and customers. Successfully taking advantage of these outlets will no doubt bring greater awareness and attention to your organisation. I would strongly recommend engaging as much as possible with social media, using data capture tools to monitor web traffic and modify accordingly, and considering your search engine optimisation.

Theodora Clarke: how a passion for Russian art led to managing the online community and arts listing of reference

Theodora Clarke Photo Small Headshot

Theodora Clarke is founder and editor of the online arts magazine Russian Art & Culture. She also set up Russian Art Week in London and publishes a bi-annual guide to this major event. She built her company from a blog that she started at university. Through social media and blogging she has become an established art historian, lecturer and critic specialising in Russian art and European modernism.

She will coach at Startup Weekend Art London and you can follow russian art news and her personally on twitter.


What is it exactly that you do and what is your start-up/company all about?

I am editor of Russian Art and Culture, an online community and arts listings hub that focuses on Russian culture both in the UK and abroad. We provide articles, reviews, interviews and listings of Russian cultural events. We also publish the official guide to the biannual Russian Art Week, which features auctions of Russian art, exhibitions, concerts and auxiliary events. Russian Art and Culture also organises events such as talks, conferences, film screenings and panel discussions.


What is your main objective with Russian Art and Culture?

Our goal is to improve understanding and awareness of Russian culture in the West. There is a lack of information and exposure of Russian culture in English, which is what Russian Art and Culture addresses as most foreign websites are in Cyrillic and are infrequently updated. I identified that there was a lack of a single source of information for the general public, collectors and curators of Russian art worldwide. We now provide constantly updated and accurate information on all Russian cultural events taking place and aim to become a global hub.


What is your audience?

We have an audience of over 60,000 readers. We act as a bridge between the academic and commercial art worlds and the wider general public with an interest in Russian art. Our readers include academics, Russian art specialists, Russian art collectors, students, gallerists, auction houses representatives, and the Russian diaspora.


That’s certainly a wide reach. What’s special about your work?

We differ from other Russian organisations and magazines in that we cover a wide range of content: all aspects of culture from art to music, ballet to theatre, contemporary and historical. We also include listings, job opportunities, and have an academic slant in that we publish conferences and calls for papers. We are unique in covering both academic and commercial content.

Our original blog I built myself in Google Blogger for free with no knowledge of computer coding! We know have a website developer and use a custom built version of WordPress. The original blog went viral through social media platforms and we get a huge amount of traffic from Facebook, Twitter, Mailchimp, Flickr, Instagram, VKontakte, Soundcloud and YouTube.

russian art

What are your core skills?

Marketing, research, journalistic, Russian language. But most importantly we need to publish interesting and creative content to attract readers and grow our community online.

How did you choose and create your team?

Most of our employees started out on work experience placements and often are graduates straight out of university. I believe that if you recruit young people who are passionate about our industry and subject and are willing to learn then they can become a great asset to the team. They have all got good research and social media skills and often come to us speaking multiple languages, set up their own blog or have lived in Russia or worked in a major museum. As we are a small team they all get to do lots of different jobs and build their skills. Lots of our old interns now work for our clients!


What are the top trends you see happening right now in the Russian Art market?

The market for contemporary Russian art is certainly improving. Unfortunately the current political situation has proved problematic, but on the other hand it emphasises the need to an improved understanding of culture for channels of dialogue. Contemporary art is a growing field and also we have expanded into literature, music and theatre as these are very popular with the public.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Be persistent and believe in yourself! Most of my family and friends thought I was crazy when I started a business focusing on Russian culture, especially as I am not even Russian! However, I was passionate about art and their culture. I love Kandinsky’s paintings, Tolstoy’s novels and Tchaikovsky’s music. My blog turned into a business because, without realising it, I had provided a useful hub for information and something which was a resource for people around the world, not just in the UK. The best businesses solve a problem that exists, in my case we have become a global community and hub for all things Russian. It takes a lot of determination and drive to set something up from scratch but I believe anyone can do it if you put your mind to it. My best tip would be to find something you enjoy doing as you are going to be investing a lot of time and energy into the project. Also do your research, why is your company different and what is unique about your product or service?

There are lots of books and blogs out there which can give you advice on how to set up your website, effectively market to customers, increase sales through business development and so on which are all helpful. But don’t forget to ask people’s advice. I must have had hundreds of cups of tea with people who ran totally different companies just to get their perspective on my ideas.  Keep a notebook with all your ideas, good or bad, as you never know when inspiration will strike!


Have you got an idea for improving how we fund, make, share and enjoy art and culture?

Social media has the potential to totally revolutionise the arts. People can share their favourite works in museums, post photographs of little known historial sites and can blog about their works as artist  and so on. Also skype has been incredible providing face to face access so I can simultaneously interview an artist in Moscow, the exhibition curator in New York whist I am in London. Most museums and galleries are now looking at opening up their collections and exhibitions online as ways to interact and build new audiences.


Our fundamental goal is to promote art and culture, through exposure and promotion of events that we ourselves would want to go to. We hope that our magazine and events fulfill this goal as much as possible.

Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at the Startup Weekend Art London in October!

How to Use Technology to Improve the Museum Experience : An Interview with Kati Price from the V&A

Kati Price, Head of Digital Media at the V&A will be judging the final presentations at Startup Weekend Art London on the 5th October. At the V&A, Kati oversees all digital activity, from the museum’s websites, apps and social media to developing new digital products, services and experiences. Kati’s 15 years’ experience in the design industry experience spans both commercial and the public sector. She’s worked for brands such as SCP and Vitsoe and charities such as the Sorrell Foundation and the Design Council. She’s passionate about digital technologies, design and beekeeping. In this interview, Kati talks about innovation and technology in museums.


What are the main challenges museums experience?

Money – One of the main challenges for any museum is funding. Our dwindling grant in aid means we need to find new sources of income, and foster a more entrepreneurial, more commercial mindset within our sector, which, in itself, raises some interesting challenges, tensions, and – of course – opportunities.

Organisational culture – Most people probably don’t think of museums as entrepreneurial
hotbeds, or as tech innovators and I’m sure all of us digital folk in the museum sector
would acknowledge the pockets of Luddism that still exist within our all too often siloed
organisations. We therefore need to be persuasive and passionate about the opportunities and possibilities that new digital technologies can present. It helps that there are some really interesting digital innovations happening in the sector that we can point to, like Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gallery One or the Cooper Hewitt’s Pen.

Loss of control – Museums, like any 21st century organisations, need to get their heads
around no longer being in control of their brands. Like Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”. Some, like frog’s CMO Tim Leberecht, would argue that loss of control is not a new phenomenon; in fact, we’ve got more control over the loss of control than ever before. Either way, in a hyper connected, transparent world we can’t afford to take a broadcast approach where the urge is to control the message. We need to embrace the multiplicity of voices that we as organisations can offer. We need to be more conversational. We need to collaborate with our online audiences, generating ideas and content together, ensuring a virtual visit is just as inspiring as coming to our buildings. The challenge is to listen, to develop shared values and long-term relationships.

What future (or present) technology innovations could help to solve them?

I think it’s dangerous to assume the best starting point is technology. It’s people: some of
the most enduring, compelling innovations come from looking at what people want, and at their latent needs. Of course there are exceptions to the rule (the folks at Apple and Ikea, for example, don’t waste their time on user-centric design) but museums, as social institutions, really need to think about people first. Too often we end up with solutions looking for problems.

It’s also about getting the basics right. On the museum conference circuit I hear from peers about exciting new apps and gallery interactives, yet often they don’t have responsive websites. It’s easy to get distracted by the latest technologies, while neglecting the fundamentals, like making it easy for visitors to find your opening times while they’re on the move.

What are some of the ways the Victoria and Albert Museum uses technology to innovate the visitor experience, manage exhibitions and attract visitors?

For our blockbuster exhibition, David Bowie is, we collaborated with Sennheiser to deliver audio seamlessly and intuitively, from immersive 3D sound simulations to proximity triggered audio. We’re now looking at how we might use iBeacons to deliver multi-media content in our exhibitions, or provide tours for visually impaired visitors or exploration trails and games for kids, for example. We’re also exploring how wearables, like Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift might introduce new layers of content and even more immersive experiences in our buildings or remotely.

We’ve also put a considerable amount of work into translating the V&A’s core managed data resources into web-portable digital assets via APIs. Freeing up collections, shop and event datasets has allowed us to rapidly develop services like our award winning digital Explorer Map as well as in-gallery digital labels. It’s also meant we’ve created a number of automated widgets on the V&A site and – most excitingly – this enables artists and developers outside the organisation to mash up the data and create their own artworks and visualisations.

But innovating our visitor experience doesn’t necessarily mean embracing the newest
technologies. It’s about doing more, better, with ubiquitous channels like Twitter and
Instagram, for example, by encouraging people to contribute their ideas on what we should be collecting in our Rapid Response collection.

What do you think museums of the future will be like?

There’s so much interesting research in this area in this area and reports like TrendsWatch do a far better job than me of summarising key trends for museums. But we’re all thinking about the Internet of Things (IoT) and how that might open up new possibilities in museums.

The IoT caricature is of your fridge telling you when it’s out of milk but there are very real
applications for a connected world within and beyond the museum. After all, museum
environments already chock full of sensors, the things that will power the IoT. At the most
functional level, imagine how the IoT will change areas like conservation and security. But
the recent folding of digital agency Berg, whose Little Printer really captured the world’s
imagination, shows that the world of connected products is still very much in its infancy and even for those with Berg’s incredible creativity, expertise and imagination, the market isn’t necessarily there yet.

Museums of the future will also be social institutions (if they’re not already), more
collaborative, more focused on engagement than presentation, and developing online (as
well as physical) experiences. To do that well, we’ll need to have got our head around big
data but perhaps we should focus more on small data or just using data better, to create
truly personalised experiences for our visitors.

Any tips for entrepreneurs who want to disrupt the museums world?

Is disruption the end goal? I’m not sure it is. After all, some are questioning whether
disruption is a myth. Earlier this year, historian Jill Lepore wrote in the New Yorker that
innovation and disruption are ideas that originated in business but have now been applied to arenas with very different values and goals than those of business:

People aren’t disk drives. Public schools, colleges and universities, churches, museums,
and many hospitals, all of which have been subjected to disruptive innovation, have
revenues and expenses and infrastructures, but they aren’t industries in the same way that manufacturers of hard-disk drives or truck engines or dry goods are industries.

That said, I think it’s hugely important that museums collaborate with technologists and
creatives if not to disrupt, at least to drive innovation within our sector. Here are four things you might want to consider:

1) Borrow from other sectors – this is an oft-used strategy within innovation: see
what’s working in one sector and translate it to a new environment. And this is
particularly good strategy to use in organisations with a risk averse culture such as

2) Find the problems – don’t start with the technological solutions and retrofit a
problem around them. Instead, take a user-centred design approach. Put people –
visitors – first.

3) Develop a business model – it’s important to really interrogate your idea and ask
yourself, does it have legs? It does if you can develop a proper business model
around the core idea. One of my favourite tools to do this is the Business Model

4) Find the sweet spot – Identify the sweet spot between business goals, user goals,
content and interaction. For more on this take a look at Corey Stern’s recent piece
for UX Mag.


Image © Corey Stern

Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at the Startup Weekend Art London in October!

ValueMyStuff: expertise to everyone, anytime. The accessible and transparent auction house

Patrick van der Vorst got his first investment from Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis on Dragon’s Den through his enthusiasm for making the art-identifying and valuing process as approachable as possible and created Value My Stuff.


Patrick will be on the panel of jury at Startup Weekend Art 

With over 469,000 valuations and 400,000 customers Value My Stuff is one of the largest online valuation companies on the market, based in London and New York and recently in LA too.

Follow their tips, quotes and fun news on art and antiques on twitter.


When and why did you set up ValueMyStuff?

In 2009, I set up this easy-to-use website with the goal of providing expertise to everyone. My enthusiasm for making the art-identifying and valuing process as approachable and transparent as possible led me to leave Sotheby’s after 15 years as a Director and Head of the Furniture Department. In 2010, ValueMyStuff appeared on Dragon’s Den, where Patrick received a £100,000 investment from Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis, who are still my current investors. The whole idea for setting up the business was to make the appraisal process more accessible and transparent.


Who does ValueMyStuff appeal to?

ValueMyStuff is a young and innovative valuation company with a team of over sixty experienced and renowned fine art, antiques and collectables specialists who have formerly worked at major international auction houses such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Phillips, and Bonhams. Valuing over 40 collecting fields, ValueMyStuff has been called the “The Antiques Roadshow Online”. With this is mind we have a large range of customers who seek valuations from us. Whether it be antique collectors, shopowners, art market professionals, people who have inherited property from their parents or grandparents, or men and women who wish to decorate their homes and need third party advise when shopping in the confusing and very much daunting market of galleries, antique shops and the new online world.


So tell us about your plans to break the US market…

I have this secret weapon – she’s an Angeleno native who also worked at Sotheby’s and decided to turn her hand at providing art valuations for the masses. She has launched the office in Los Angeles with an aim at capitalizing on the current booming young art tech scene there. Think of LA like Silicon Beach (a mini San Francisco offshoot of Silicon Valley) – a lot of young art tech firms are moving there as its West Coast meets art. With a touch on the pulse, we’ll hire US digital marketing experts who can advertise our services to the critical mass and receive advise from other art professionals who are trying to educate people about art, art history, antique provenance and how to value property. We are also breaking out into much younger forms of advertising like Youtube & Facebook which will truly make our brand familiar to all different communities. We want to show people that we are truly like the Antiques Roadshow online – and even better is that we’re affordable.


Do you find their auction and valuation market is very different to the UK’s?

The key for US expansion is identifying the differences between the UK and the US art & antiques communities. The core question we asked ourselves before opening our US office was – what categories of antiques do Americans wish to have valued? Ultimately, we are all inheritors of stuff so it is important to nail down cultural differences in the individual US states to understand what they wish to have valued and how they wish to be spoken to. Valuing anyone’s antiques is a very personal experience and how we reach Americans is very different then how we reach the British. The first identifiable difference is Americans say “appraisal” rather than “valuation”. This small language difference makes a paragraph about Ceramics valuation incomprehensible to an American but once you change the word to appraisal we open up the communication to the a huge subset of customers.


What are the benefits of having a valuation from ValueMyStuff? Can it help confirm provenance? Is this harder with artworks, especially when working from photographs?

Our proposition and experience provide people with the extra reassurance they need when buying at shops or online. Receiving expert advice allows buyers to negotiate with the knowledge that the Queen Anne Style furniture is actually “in the style of” and not dating back to the early 18th century and worth 80% of the asking price. Our service not only benefits buyers, but also sellers who armed with an auction estimate can dictate to the auction house or on their online listing the price that they wish to receive based on actual market value of the item.

Provenance is confirmed through historical photographs and documentation such as invoices or letters. That being said a valuation can assist in confirming what the photographs or invoices may suggest. For instance, if a grandparent wrote that they were given this silver in Sheffield in the 1800’s, our experts can verify that the silver bears the proper maker’s mark and thus confirm what has been put in writing by our ancestors. Also, our valuations help to identify artists, manufacturers, styles which can then help establish the provenance of the objects. With paintings, specifically artists whose works sells at large international auction houses, our valuations can assist people by recommending the appropriate authentication process for painters such as De Kooning, Van Gogh, Banksy, Henry Moore, or Corot to name a few. By receiving our valuations our customers are armed with knowledge and courses of action to help appreciate their object’s value.

In this modern day and age, providing valuations from photographs has been made easier with technological revolution of smartphones like Samsung and iPhone whose camera technology allows users to take high resolution images from their phones.


Why do they seek valuations from you?

-To sell their item at auction

-valuation for inheritance

-need to provide an accurate value for an insurance company

-report values for tax purposes

-record of value for charitable donation

-artist, maker, or manufacturer identification

-looking to buyer and want to ensure that you are receiving a fair price

-wish to learn more about the history or purpose of the object in question

-want to know whether the unique item has any value


Are you seeing any trends in the types of artwork being presented for valuation?

Our items are as varied as our customers. We value over 60 collecting categories and on a daily basis value objects as diverse as American Tonalist paintings, Tribal Masks and Sculptures, classic cars, pop & film memorabilia to silverware. The most common categories that people send in for valuation tend to be ceramics which most often are Chinese ceramics. There was a large collecting trend from the beginning of the 1900’s  to collect Chinese ceramics which were being exported from China and Taiwan.


Based on your experience, can you highlight any artists whose work:

– is significantly rising in value at the moment

Latin American Art and Artists.

Contemporary Art market as a whole, but only the solid artists remain, with a lot of young artists who had a buzz and short lived success falling by the waste side.

– is worth looking out for in local auctions, car boot sales, etc?

Always – at ValueMyStuff our members of staff score local auctions everyday to see what art is being sold for local estates. Still today there is art by well known artists that is discovered and authenticated at local auctions, estate sales and car boot sales. Most recently, we identified and valued an Egyptian Maul that was purchased for 3 GBP at a car boot sale in Northampton and was valued at 3,000 – 4,000 GBP. There are great finds no matter where you look!

– is a relatively safe investment, holds its value well

The Old Masters and the Impressionist paintings and prints will continue to hold value throughout time. These first painters are the ones who taught us how to see and look at art and will always maintain their significance in the history of art.

– is just starting to become collectable

African Art is just starting to become collectable. The Post-Impressionists and Fauvists like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso uses Tribal Masks and a source of inspiration for their portraits and paintings, however the work did not yet become collectable for the critical mass until today.


Are there any specific genres of artwork that are becoming collectable?

All of the above.


What is your view of the state of the global art market at present?

The global art market is bullish with new collectors from around the globe thirsty for fresh to the market works. The internet is working in the global art market’s favour as news regarding exhibitions, auctions, collections, and museum events is able to reach people through a click of a button. We are seeing dissemination of art market news at a rapid pace and with this access comes greater responsibility for research institutions to provide accurate and up to date information. It is an exciting time to be part of this change from the local to the global and it is certainly a great position for both buyers and sellers. This does, however, mean more competition across the board whether that be for auction houses against one another or for buyers against buyers as “deals” on great pictures are few and far between.


Do you think a ‘bubble’ has formed or is the market’s current strength sustainable?

The question of the bubble is complex – did economists predict the 2008 American housing bubble which led to an international economic crisis? Well like in 2008, some speak about the doom of the art market, but in my view art will remain as a treaty alternative and tangible asset and we can’t see this coming to a halt. Also, if one buys against ,market trends, such as buying good 18th century furniture now, or collect silver, there is only upside possible in the future.


You have a whole raft of other services now under the My Stuff banner. What is the reasoning behind the launch of these services?

After providing valuations for three years, we realized that our customers need to understand the value of their art or antiques was only the first step in the journey to sell or insure their valuables. Our customers not only sought our advice regarding the value of their objects but wanted to know the best place to sell, which conservator to use for restoration or even the most qualified art shipping company to transport their property. After rebranding last year, we added services to insure, auction, exhibit, transport, restore, and store people’s objects online. This makes the platform a one-stop-shop for anything people eventually want to do


How can ExhibitMyStuff increase the value of your work?

Exhibition builds provenance and value of objects. Art and antiques appreciate in value when they have been exhibited at museums. This is why once we have identified an artist or a piece of pop memorabilia we encourage our customers to email us to be included in our property list available for exhibition. Curators often call us to score our database for unique objects to include in their exhibitions. We view this service as value added for our customers just as much as providing assistance with restoration and/or fine art shipping.


Who uses this service? Where might the work be exhibited?

Collectors, curators, and museum owners use our ExhibitMyStuff service. People often associate museums with sculpture and paintings, but there are museums dedicated to Toys, Coca-Coca Cola and Dolls (to name a few) who are always looking to boost their permanent collection with unique, fresh to the market works. ExhibitMyStuff is an important feature of what we do as a research institution.


Why and when did you launch AuctionMyStuff?

We launched AuctionMyStuff after identifying a need amongst our customers. After providing valuations for three years, we realized that our customers need to understand the value of their art or antiques was only the first step in the journey to sell or insure their valuables. Our customers not only sought our advice regarding the value of their objects but wanted to know the best place to sell, which conservator to use for restoration or even the most qualified art shipping company to transport their property. After rebranding last year, we added services to insure, auction, exhibit, transport, restore, and store people’s objects online. This makes the platform a one-stop-shop for anything people eventually want to do.


What are the advantages of buying from AuctionMyStuff?

AuctionMyStuff gives a buying advantage to all our customers who believe in the collaborative consumption platform but do need that additional reassurance that what they are buying is as marketed. AuctionMyStuff comes with the added benefit of our regulatory body ValueMyStuff where items are accompanied by the item’s initial expert valuation. In this way, buyers can feel satisfied not only that the item’s description is correct but that the value is correctly placed among the market. This is why the P2P selling platform and online marketplaces like eBay get a bad reputation – a lack of a third party regulatory body. It seems like the best analogy is a democratic government analogy and we have put that check and balance system into place for buyers (and sellers).


What are the advantages of selling on AuctionMyStuff?

The advantages of selling on AuctionMyStuff is to sell to buyers who are dedicated to art, antiques and collectables. Also, once a valuation is received,  listing is a swift two step process with no listing fees, no unsold fees, in addition to the fact that the item does not travel or leave the seller until they have been paid. The AuctionMyStuff selling commission is lower than international auction houses in addition to the fact that there are no hidden fees. Also, the estimate you receive as a seller is true market value and not pitched at a level that would make it attractive to buyers without protecting the value to the seller.


Are you an art collector yourself? If so, please tell me a bit about your collection.

I am a Post War, Modern and Contemporary art collector with a passion for antique furniture. I am always looking for new contemporary artists who cast a new glance on painting or drawing. One of my favorite artists is Yves Klein. His blues cheer up my blues so to speak!


How do you decide what to buy?

In this world we need beautiful and inspiring things to infiltrate our everyday lives – some people get this from music, others through words and then some of us through art. Inhabiting a space is a creative act and I choose to express myself through the art that I collect.


Why collect art?

Why not? Art is life affirming. As we fill and arrange our homes with personal artifacts, they become reflections of our inner selves. It is a way of expressing the everyday, the fantastical or the mundane.Whether canvas, board, paper or bronze the way perception can be manipulated, changed, or distorted through seeing a different way is beautiful and often surprising. There is a great quote from art critic Matthew Goulish which reflects how I feel about collecting:

“We may agree on the premise that each work of art is at least in part perfect, while each critic is at least in part imperfect. We may then look to each work of art not for its faults and shortcomings, but for its moments of exhilaration, in an effort to bring our own imperfections into sympathetic vibration with these moments, and thus effect a creative change in ourselves. These moments will of course be somewhat subjective, and if we don’t see one immediately, we will out of respect look again, because each work contains at least one, even if by accident. We may look at the totality of the work in the light of this moment – whether it be a moment of humor or sadness, an overarching structural element, a mood, a personal association, a distraction, an honest error, anything that speaks to us.”–Matthew Goulish


What tips would you give for investing wisely?

In one of my recent blogs for the Huffington Post, I spoke about the collecting contemporary art and people’s obsession with collecting for investment purposes rather than for the love of collecting. Most ask whether they should buy art and antiques as an investment, which any collector will vehemently deny as the best course of action; but all the same the question is a valid one.

It is such a hot topic of conversation because people are constantly trying new ways to hedge their bets by following a collecting trend and in doing so receive more for their investment.

The collector Sir David Tang, Founder of Shanhai Tang and Owner of the China Club, said when it comes to collecting, “The only question I ask is: when I wake up and get out of bed, would I want to see it? You have to like the picture. I can ‘t think of anything more ridiculous than someone wanting to buy a painting for their fireplace or to fit a certain space. The moment you ask where you’re going to hang it, you’re asking the wrong question.”

I echo Sir David Tang’s thoughts regarding the importance of buying art that you wish to see and art that will continue to be aesthetically pleasing in the early morning before the coffee has hit your cerebral epicenter. However, the question of what or who to collect is still valid as it is hard to imagine the person who wishes to buy an object projected to depreciate in the near future.


What tips would you give for deciding when to sell?

My best advice would be to sell when you are ready to part with an item; being forced to sell because of economic pressures is never a fun way to sell. That being said, a good way to know when to sell is to follow market and seasonal trends. Predicting the market, whether financial or art, can seem like an opaque process for those who do not live and breathe the relevant news and results. The advice that I can give, and do give people, is to become familiar with the auction season and the different auction houses. Look at results and see what people are selling – ask yourself what does well and think of the reasons why?


Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at Startup Weekend Art London in October!