Veerkant: Changing the Online Art Experience

Veerkant are kindly providing access to high resolution pictures and meta data of more than 1000 paintings and artists for the attendees of Startup Weekend Art London.

Veerkant is a modern web application for exploring, experiencing and buying art. The young company was founded in Potsdam by Johannes Hoppe, Lucas Wagner and Tim Borchmann in early 2014. With about 1,000 paintings from more than 150 artists, the platform offers a broad range of contemporary art at a variety of prices. Lucas Wagner talks about the project.

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What is Veerkant all about?

We develop and operate a web application that enables art lovers and enthusiasts to explore, experience and buy original artwork online. We utilize state of the art technology to revolutionize the online art experience.

Which problem do you solve?

To answer that question, we need to take a look at the current state of online art. There are many small online shops, artists present themselves on their websites, galleries sometimes have online portfolios. And there are thousands of offline galleries as well. This makes discovering new and exciting artwork incredibly hard. But a large collection is not enough. That is why we work hard to enable art lovers to experience art online at a whole new level. We want to create an experience, not a random online shop where you just search for stuff you want, buy it and then leave right away. Veerkant aims to be your home of art in the Internet.

We focus on high quality content, both for the photography of our artwork and on the metadata and information about it. It is our goal not only to be the best in showcasing art online, but to educate people and tell them the story behind each painting and its artist. Therefore we have been working on new artist profiles that will be released very

Which customers do you serve?

We focus on first­-time art buyers. People that are young, educated and interested in art but who have not had the chance to learn more about art yet. We strive to give these people who are new in the art world, and of course other art lovers as well, an easy access to buy original pieces and explore their own art taste.

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

We are not an online shop. We are a well­-curated online gallery, a guide to the art world and place where you can easily explore and experience your taste. We do not only deliver the artwork itself, but the story and emotions that come with art naturally. We bring this experience to the Internet, for a younger and growing audience, using our
modern web app approach and latest technology.

How do you make money: what is your company’s business model and how does it work?

Since we want to offer our art experience to a broad audience, everyone can
visit our online gallery for free and artists can exhibit their artworks with no costs too. We only take a fair, and compared to the industry, very competitive commission fee for each sale we make.

Which channels do you use to advertise?

At the moment, we build up different marketing channels for our gallery. First, we want to target the social media platform users who are interested in art. We also want to create an online art and style magazine to attract an audience
that is not thinking about buying original art yet. With different themed art events and exhibitions, we are going to add to our credibility and make a name in the art world. And last but not least, we use our the art collectors and art galleries in our network to contact people who are likely interested in our exciting pieces.

How did you create/gather your team?

The most important thing was commitment to our vision. The art market is one of the toughest markets to tackle and requires a lot of passion and endurance. We tried to cover all competencies that are required to run a successful art business. But as a startup you never have enough resources to cover all areas, that is why everyone in our team is a fast learner. All our founders are experienced in either business or new technology. Combined with our passion for art, these skills allow us to constantly challenge the status quo of the art market.

What are the top trends you see happening right now?

What I see happening right now is a shift from offline to online businesses. Everything ­ from shoes and furniture to original art is starting to or already selling better on the Internet. Also, I see China as the fastest emerging art market in the world. People should look into that to run a successful business. We aim to expand to Asia as soon
as possible, after we have established a good position in Europe.

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

Google Art Project: A Virtual Museum with Millions of Artifacts

Marzia Niccolai, Technical Program Manager at Google Cultural Institute, will be a coach at Startup Weekend Art London.

Marzia has worked at Google for 8 years, most recently as Technical Program Manager looking after cultural digitization efforts for Google’s Cultural Institute. Before working on the Google Art Project and the Cultural Institute, she worked on App Engine, part of Google’s scalable cloud computing solution. Originally from California, she attended Carnegie Mellon University and Columbia University. In this short interview, Marzia talks about her experiences at the Google Art Project and gives some tips for entrepreneurs.

How did you get involved with the Google Art Project?

I got involved with the Art Project before the first launch in 2011. At the time, I was working on Google App Engine, and they were building on our platform and had some questions. I was so excited about what I saw that I volunteered my 20% time. I worked on it first 20%, then 50% through 2012, when I moved to London to work on GAP full time.

What are the main challenges you encountered and how did you overcome them?

Every day presents new challenges, but that’s what keeps me around! When we started there were a lot of obvious challenges – just building a platform where you could find lots of amazing artwork from all over the world, have seamlessly integrated zoom view as well as an interior Google Museum view was a challenge.

But now the bar is higher and we have to think about how to keep pushing innovation forward online and keeping our growing number of cultural partners not only happy but involved in what we’d like to do.

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

Well, I’m not sure it would be considered a trend, but what I would like to see become more of a reality is a smooth integration between the offline and online art world so they become truly complementary experiences.

What advice would you give to arts entrepreneurs?

Probably the same I would give most people – that great ideas are easy to come by and the real work (and real genius) is in great execution. Focus first on delivering your core offering and then build on top of that.

For the projects I work on, I always have a longer term vision that I’m working toward. However, when it comes to the actual work I doing, I always want to have 90% confidence in what I’m doing this week, 80% confidence in what I’m doing this month and it decreases from there. For me, it keeps the balance between flexibility and longer term thinking.

Have you got an idea for combining art and technology to solve an art world problem?

I haven’t really thought about it – but if I did, it would probably include 3D.

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

Turn your smartphone into a museum guide with ArtGuru

Marco De Sentis is the CEO and Founder of ArtGuru, an innovative museum guide solution.


Follow them on facebook and twitter.

Cristian Civera, CTO, will be available to mentor attendees at the Startup Weekend Art London, on October 3-5. Check him out on twitter.


What is ArtGuru?

ArtGuru is a new generation audio guide for museums, with image recognition and artificial intelligence. We provide added value to museums thanks to our analytics and marketing systems


Finally a solution to upgrade museum guides?

Modern audio guide systems aren’t modern at all: they simply aren’t capable of providing the users an experience even close to what we’ve used today with our devices. At the same time, from the museum point of view, they’re expensive to purchase, to maintain and keep up to date.

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Who are you selling ArtGuru to?

Although the ultimate consumers are the users & art lovers, we primary talk to museums willing to jump onto our platform.


How do you work with museums?

ArtGuru is easy & quick to set up, the image recognition allows us to work without needing any infrastructure provided by the museums. Once we sign a deal, the guide is usually ready within a week, and thanks to our online CMS, museums are for the very first time able to modify and maintain the content themselves directly.

And you know what? All the process is surprisingly easy & straightforward: if you want your ArtGuru, just go to, signup and your tailored audio guide will be ready on the store in a week. Just a quick example: a museum in Milan signed up to ArtGuru on the 5th of September; they had a “Chagall & The Bible” exhibition starting on 17th September. Of course their ArtGuru was ready & running for the opening day. Visitors are using it right now, and the museum is making revenues out of it. Could you imagine doing this, so quickly, with a traditional audio guide system?


You seem to be using pretty advanced technology

Image recognition is a science still in its initial stage, so there are a few algorithms and techniques which are very well known. We kept and combined some of them in order to build a reliable system. Plus, we ported it into your phone, it runs smoothly and it doesn’t require any active internet connection.


What brought the ArtGuru’s team together?

Tech & mathematical skills, love for art and a number of connections into the art world

The founders have been friends for a long time, and have worked together in a number of projects. We choose people who share with us the passion for technology and arts.

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What are the biggest changes in the museum world?

Many museums are starting using social media not only to promote their activities, but also to integrate them and to cooperate with each other. There are many “social events” that arise each week, almost spontaneously: all they need is a hashtag, such as #askacurator or #museumweek, and you see a number of museums, belonging to different countries, interacting among each other, with artists and art lovers.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Don’t be afraid to fail, failing is learning, and learning is the key to succeed.


What’s ArtGuru mission?

We want to create a new kind of comprehensive experience for ArtGuru users, that would go beyond the boundaries of a specific museum and adapt to the users’ tastes. We’ve already implemented some key elements in ArtGuru, and further updates will be available in the coming weeks.

With ArtGuru we want to enhance how people interact with the art in museums, and we’re also opening a channel to let the museums reach their visitors. This, we believe, is of great interest and value to museums. A little revolution in terms of interaction between the museum and the art lovers and, at the end of the day, a brand new way to promote art.

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

Rise Art helps you discover art that fits you and your home. Made possible through a love of tech and art

Rise Art Founder and CTO, Marcos Steverlynck will be available during the Startup Weekend Art London to code with you and answer your questions. You can also find him on Twitter.


Follow RiseArt on twitter and facebook.

There are many online galleries, how is Rise Art different?

Rise Art was created to help make collecting original art easy and risk free for everyone. Started by two close friends, the company is driven by a passion for art, technology and helping artists support and expand their practice.

We’re building an online platform that makes discovering new art easy and fun. All of the artwork for sale on Rise Art has been hand picked by the experts. We work with top graduate degree programs, galleries and museums to provide our members with access to an incredible array of contemporary artwork across price points.

To help you get started, we’ve designed a free art style quiz. Take the quiz, and we’ll put together a unique collection of artwork tailored to you. Follow artists and favourite works you like, and we’ll update your guide accordingly.

We also believe in great customer service and understand that art is hard to buy online. Our art rental service lets you try before you buy for a low monthly rate and flexible returns policy also means that you won’t be stuck with art you don’t absolutely love. See the work in the flesh, and if you don’t love it, return it to us, free of charge.


What made you create Rise Art?

Art is a pleasure. Choosing and buying art should be a pleasure too.

Often, it isn’t. It can be intimidating, overwhelming and risky. It can also be expensive – how do you know it’s worth it? And how can you be sure you’ll still love the piece when it’s on your wall?

We created Rise Art because we believed there was an easier way for people interested in contemporary art to access works that they loved – simply, online and without fear of being intimidated, ripped off or stuck with something they didn’t like.


What is your target market?

We serve customers trying to start or grow their art collection, or just looking for great artwork to put on their walls instead of IKEA or Habitat. We offer artwork ranging in price from a few hundred pounds up to 50,000 GBP.

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Sounds like you’ve found a mission through your love of art and tech

We are disrupting the art world status quo. The art market has seen little or no innovation in the past hundreds of years. Art galleries, dealers and auction houses operate basically the same way they did hundred of years ago, and it is very complicated for consumers to understand and get into the market. We aim to make great artwork accessible to everyone, and make the experience simple, easy, fun and accessible. We want to put the entire art catalogue of the world in customer’s hands, expertly hand-picked so customers do not have to worry about what and why they are buying a piece of art, they just need to know if they love it or if it will be a great investment.

We are believers of using technology to improve people’s lives and we are using state of the art technology (and developing our own) to help people discover and find the art they love.

We also offer innovative ways of experiencing the art, allowing users to rent the art and try it in their home before they buy. We credit part of the rental towards the purchase as well, or allow customers to return it at any time, free of charge.


As the CTO, what has been your approach to creating the Rise Art platform?

We believe in using the right tools and technology where it makes sense. We also believe in the power of technology to achieve our mission. We have developed advanced recommendation algorithms to help people discover the art they love. We also use advanced image recognition algorithms to understand the artwork and the environment around it. We have borrowed and built upon people that came before us, and we hope other people will borrow and build upon things we have done.

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Who are you working with?

We need great, enthusiastic coders. We are currently hiring front end (HTML5, CSS3, JS, Jquery) and back end (PHP/Zend, MySQL, Java, Hadoop, etc) developers.


So you are hiring and developing your team. How do you select new joiners?

To be honest, we are still trying to figure that one out. Building the right development team can be the hardest and most important piece in the success of any startup, and the job is never done. Hire great people and things will fall into place; hire sub-par people and things will fail.


What are the top trends you see happening right now in your area of expertise?

Advances in artificial intelligence, image recognition and recommendation engines can all have a great impact in how we discover and consume art online.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Don’t think about it too much, or plan too much ahead, just go ahead and do it. You will find out soon enough that all your plans are soon out the window, and you will need to adapt and evolve as your idea and market does. Once you have an idea, validate it, and get to work! Forget about long, useless business plans, get your hands dirty early and fast.

Iterate quickly and figure out who your customer is and what they want. And most importantly, everything takes 3 times as much time as you expected it would, so plan for it!


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

We need to make great art accessible and easy to buy. There are thousands of really talented artists out there that are being left out of the market by the galleries; we need to give them a way to find their audience. Art should be easy, uncomplicated, and fun. Let’s make it so!


Our mission is to make great art accessible to anyone and help great artists get discovered. As opposed to completely open marketplaces where anyone can sell, we believe that first time art buyers need more than just a lot of choice; they need expert recommendation and guidance. Why is a piece worth what it is? Is it a good potential investment? Is it just great as decoration? When it comes to art, having a lot of choice is not enough, you need to provide the right choice and help people through the process of finding the right piece for them.

We have built technology and products to allow that, and in the process we aim to introduce more and more people to collecting real art.

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


Rua: The Brazilian answer to funding art and sport through direct donations or tax contributions

Alexandre is co-founder of Rua where he heads Product Management.

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He has worked in venture capital with Ion Ventures and with Visa International in the US and Europe leading its corporate venturing and innovation efforts.

He has also worked at UBS in Switzerland where he led product development for its financial information service. He has Expertise in venture investments and partnerships in the mobile payments, e-Commerce, micropayment and holds an MBA – University of Zurich

You can find out more about Rua on facebook and twitter.


Crowdfunding is a very hot topic, what’s your take on it?

I head Product Management at Rua, which is a platform for the Brazilian culture, Sport, and social impact sector to crowdfund projects, build online communities and share content.

Rua enables project producers to fund exciting and viable campaigns across Brazil based on crowd selection. Uniquely, we integrate corporate social responsibility goals of major organizations with the platform to align with strategically important  cultural and impact projects.


Why do we need Rua?

The core problem Rua solves is the chronic under funding of the culture, sports, and impact sectors.  To achieve this, we have innovated around the following few areas:

–          Rua has automated underutilized tax incentives to allow individuals to easily invest in culture and sport projects – essentially unlocking latent ‘capital’ for people to contribute to projects (thus overcoming a key barrier for crowd funding adoption in emerging markets)

–          Our CSR application allows companies and its employees to use their collective tax incentives to invest in projects that are most important to them or meet strategic marketing goals

–          Our portal integrates crowd funding with strong content and community tools allowing a genuine place for sharing, collaborating and transacting based on customization – we strongly believe this moves users away from transaction apathy to deeper engagement for users

–          Rua has also leveraged digital tools and techniques to foster greater entrepreneurship among project producers – ultimately making them more attuned to the needs of their audiences

Rua’s platform offers a more efficient and automated funding process to artists and funders whether through direct donations or tax contributions and fundamentally democratizes access to the culture and sports sector at a time of rising citizen aspirations in Brazil.


Who can use it and what for?

Rua’s customers fall into three key categories:

–          Project producers with exciting projects seeking funding – whether they are emerging artists, engaged in sports, or social entrepreneurs seeking impact

–          Organizations seeking to link CSR or sustainability goals with aligned projects across the digital sphere  – and possibly in conjunction with their employees

–          Individuals looking to support projects or communities important to them  – with an option to financially support projects through donations or tax incentives


How does it work?

Rua aggregates multiple funding sources from people and companies to invest in exciting projects across Brazil. Through linking donations and automated tax incentives, Rua unlocks latent capital to fund projects, which reduces a key market barrier to CF adoption in emerging markets like Brazil.  However, our vision is to link this capacity to unlock capital with a strong UX on the portal through what we term the ‘3C’ model – crowdfunding, community, and content as we believe crowdfunding needs to move beyond a transaction site.  The automation, coupled with the 3C model is the basis of our differentiation and will hopefully make Rua the portal of choice for users, organizations and project producers in the Brazilian culture, sports, and social impact sectors.

We have intelligently embedded the fundamentals of crowd funding architecture into a highly differentiated portal for the Brazilian marketplace, and extended this into a rules-based system to enable organizations to customize around their CSR and marketing objectives. Our proprietary data analytics and predictive tools were built in-house following the analysis of over many similar projects over the past few decades.  Crucially, we leverage well adopted social media tools and content management applications to customize for our customers.

We haven’t launched yet, but this is how it will look like:


What drove you and your team to create Rua?

Passion will get you where you want.  The interesting dynamic within Rua is the combined team skills – with an average age of circa 40 we bring a wealth of truly global experience from arts, technology, social impact, strategic consulting, and innovation, and an eclectic mix of interests ranging from philosophy, logic, language acquisition, photography, to sailing and singing! This bizarre mix of life experiences has given birth to a common vision for Rua.

Like many founding teams with strong networks we selected our talent pool based on them sharing a common vision of making Rua a market leader.  We spent an equal amount of time on assessing technical skills as ensuring people believe in our vision and can strengthen it.  Today we are 9 and with plans to expand the team in Q4/2014.


What’s next in the world of crowd funding?

As outlined, we would love to see crowd funding move beyond a transaction platform towards a strong UX around content and community.  Right now we’re seeing more crowd funding sites focusing on multi-currency multi-language sites which we also see as crucial to drive greater liquidity for projects conversions.  Whilst nascent, linking crowd funding with equity-based models will over time become more common subject to national financial regulations – but we believe once accustomed to donations and rewards-based crowd funding, users will also want to co-own the ideas and projects they back with their money.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Be focused and pragmatic. Follow your passion.


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

Building real-time tracking, targeting and bidding for mobile advertisers: an interview with Tamome

Tamome is a mobile advertising & technology start-up that delivers the right ads to the right people at the right time using real-time techniques.


Jonathan Webb, has built the product strategy, roadmap, engineering team and platform from a high level concept and no heads to an efficient development organisation that designs, builds and supports the systems that the sales, marketing and operations teams rely upon 24×7. He will be available during the Startup Weekend Art as a coach. Follow Tamome’s development on twitter.


What is Tamome, how does it work and what’s your job?

Tamome is a solution for advertisers and advertising agencies. With Tamome they can target campaigns at audiences on mobile devices, measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and continuously modify their targeting and spend to optimise the campaign.

To do this we provide real-time tracking, targeting and bidding on impressions (places to put ads) which requires serious custom built big-data software systems that we develop in-house.

My job is to understand Tamome’s and our customers’ needs, then translate the needs into a UI and architecture that our engineering team can understand, build and manage. The end product must make our users happy in their quest to optimise and deliver the advertisers’ campaigns.

Put really simply – I figure out what we need to do, how we will do it and then ensure my team can, and do, deliver it.


Where does Tamome fit in mobile advertising?

Tamome helps the media industry optimise advertising on mobile whilst the world is going mobile – fast.

To do this we get the right ads to the right people at the right time, and that means that

1: End users receive less irrelevant ads

2: Advertisers increase their ROI

3: Publishers (the people with places to put ads) receive more each time they show one of our ads


Who are your customers?

Anyone wanting to advertise effectively on mobile anywhere in the world. We are currently running campaigns for mobile network operators, car manufacturers, double glazing, glasses, contact lenses, supermarkets and games developers. These are running in the UK, Europe, USA, South America and Asia.


How has media advertising evolve?

The traditional print media industry evolved over the last 20 years to support desktop advertising. Initially buying and selling impressions, then clicks in bulk. As in, ‘I’ll take 1 million clicks on the telegraph this month at $0.20 per click please’. That was disrupted by real-time bidding models about 7 years ago. Each time there’s an opportunity to show an end user an ad, the opportunity is put up for auction and the highest bidder gets to put their ad in front of the user. All within a fraction of a second.

Now we’re in another disruptive period as mobile becomes so prevalent for most people.

It’s harder to figure out what’s happening on mobile, it harder to grab users’ attention and get them to ‘do something’ and there’s a bunch of additional user data that might help you decide which ads to send them.

All this is disruptive to the business models of the exiting agencies. They need to think differently for mobile advertising and stay up to date with bidding technologies.

Tamome is coming at these problems from a purely mobile perspective. We’ve got no desktop legacy to worry about and we’re running real campaigns so that we can learn and develop our platform fast and in a way that is perfectly suited to mobile. We’re responsive, agile and mobile focused.

See the UI and features below. Click on picture to enlarge.

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This all seems to need a lot of clever analysis and user-friendly front-end UI, how did you develop your solution?

We leveraged several 3rd party systems to bootstrap fast and then built our UI, custom mobile tracking and analysis tools on top of that. We’re prototyping, testing and building a real-time bidding system that involves programmatic buying and that uses regression analysis and Bayesian statistics to figure out what inventory to bid on, when and for how much. All in a fraction of a second. Think of it as a stock market, but with each share worth a significantly different amount to each bidder.

Other people are building similar systems (there wouldn’t be a market if they weren’t) but we aim to do it faster and better, so it’s down to maths, algorithms, fantastic software engineers and a deep understanding of what campaign managers really do.


OK, sounds like you need an army of math geniuses and software engineers, how did Tamome come to be?

If you want to get to market fast and not spend a fortune developing systems you have to borrow, rent and leverage. We only develop our own tech if, allowing for the opportunity cost, it is cost effective to do so. It’s also not just about our tech but infrastructure as well. Don’t spend time and effort building, configuring and running bug tracking and agile tools when they are available as low-cost online services.


So what are the guys in your team good at?

Business strategy, product strategy, team building, team leading, product management, system architecture, software architecture, UI design, graphic design, agile, lean, UI development (PhP), back-end development (C++), Linux administration, sales and campaign management (as input).

We stay sane thanks to our partners (home and work), and having a huge dose of flexibility, willingness, pragmatism and a sense of humour.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

It’s a long slog, keep at it.

It’s very rewarding (but not financially).

A good developer is 10 times more efficient than a poor one, will take up less of your time and will be far better company in a small office. Make sure you hire the good ones and don’t get overruled for budgetary reasons.


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

Tax breaks are available as are some development grants through the technology strategy board (TSB) if you are developing new technology.

Find a business model that works for you where you provide a paid for service, and have that fund your technology development. That way you have an income stream and get to learn from the staff who are running the service about what happens in the real world.

Technology has a heartbeat called ‘Moore’s Law’ which drives the amount of computing power available for a fixed cost to doubles every 18 months or so. There is a similar heartbeat to screen sizes, screen resolution, network bandwidth, storage capacity etc.  Find a niche that is currently hard to implement now because of the computing power required. By the time you’ve figured out how to do it and got most of the way there, the computing technology cost will have reduced dramatically and you will be well positioned to exploit it.


How could the work you’ve done in your company be relevant to art promotion and enjoyment?

Mobile technology is getting more and more prevalent. Get your art, installations, guides and advertising onto mobile in a form that is easily accessible, works on all the major platforms (apple iOS, google android, windows mobile) and tailored specifically to mobile.

For example; run mobile advertising campaigns that let you target your audience based on current location (near a gallery or show), network connection (on wifi – probably at home, in a café or work), time of day (5pm – probably at work heading out of the door). Think carefully about how you might target the right audience, take them to a brief mobile optimised site then make them a compelling offer (‘2 for 1 at the Southwark Gallery 5pm-9pm with this code’).

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

Larry’s List: A Collection of Collectors

Magnus Resch is quite a phenomenon. He just turned 30 but can look back on a lifetime. Army soldier, serial entrepreneur, university professor and best-selling author. He started early, very early. His first venture at the age of 20 was an art gallery in Switzerland. Following that, he became Managing Director of Springstar, an internet incubator with $2 Billion revenue. His most recent venture, Larry’s List, is a database of contemporary art collectors.

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Tell us about Larry’s List.

Larry’s List is a database of contemporary art collectors. It is like an address book packed full of contact details for the most relevant contemporary art collectors. It is a service for art dealers to help them find new customers.

What problem does Larry’s List solve?

Larry’s List helps galleries to identify new customers. Galleries from around the world, including many Art Basel galleries, are using the service. And we have many clients from outside the art world too. Everyone who needs access to an affluent group of contemporary art collectors can use Larry’s List to research their contact details, collection information and business interests.

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How does Larry’s List disrupt the traditional arts industry?

Imagine if Christie’s were to put all their customer data online. The contact details, collection preferences and art engagement information for all the collectors paying millions of dollars for artworks. This is Larry’s List. We are the address book every gallery, auction house and art dealer has been looking for, making meticulously researched collector profiles accessible to everyone for a fair price.

You have just published a best-selling book on the management of art galleries. How can art galleries leverage new technologies for profit?

Gallery owners need to change their mindset. They need to be businessmen first and only later creative people. As any good businessman, a gallery manager will then realise that new technologies can act as additional distribution channels. By selling works online on platforms or through mobile apps, galleries may find new customers. Will artists eventually sell directly to the customers, leaving out the gallery owners? No. Galleries will always be the curators of the art market.

What is your top piece of advice for entrepreneurs in the arts sector?

If your plan is to open another gallery – don’t do it! It’s a terribly hard thing to do. If you want to start a company in the art world focus on two things: (1) money not the beauty of the arts, (2) those customers who are currently left out of the market. They have the highest potential.

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

Articheck: an innovative solution for conservators

We are delighted to announce that Annika Erikson, CEO of Articheck will be at Startup Weekend Art London. Find out more about her business idea and work so far. Follow Articheck on twitter, facebook, LinkedIn Art & Technology Group and Instagram.


Tell us about you and Articheck

I am the founder and CEO of Articheck, a distruptive startup targeting the art world.

Articheck takes the manual, labour intensive process of creating condition reports, detailing the condition of artwork at a given place and time for insurance and collection management purposes, and greatly streamlines it. Artwork moves around a lot, between exhibitions, art fairs and sales. Articheck provides a digital ‘passport for art’ that is stored centrally and can be accessed and stamped by each party while the work is in transit or being exhibited, rather than everyone making a new paper report all the time.


Who is it for?

Museums, galleries, conservators, Art Studios, Shippers, framers, Auction Houses, anyone dealing with these reports.


It sounds like condition reporting needed to move to the 21rst century!

Yes, our tech stack is not ground breaking, but the combination and specification to the industries needs are.

Our biggest competitor is a piece of paper so Articheck is very disruptive!

Here are some screen shots of our app showing some of the features available.

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How did you come up with this idea?

I used to make thousands of these reports for Tate, and then later in the commercial world. I also used to be a collections cataloguer and work with the systems that Articheck will need to integrate with, so I had an ideal background for this (minus the MBA and tech knowledge of course!)


So you realised there was another, more productive and valuable way to do your job. How did you manage to turn your idea into a business?

First I could only afford interns and freelancers. It was difficult to trust random freelancers so I used people I knew.  I got people to fill gaps of knowledge and skill set as soon as possible, and then more people with art world expertise.  I had to choose between getting ‘sales’ people and getting ‘art world people’ who have done some sales but not SAAS. I choose the artworld people as I think that knowledge is more difficult to cultivate on the job.


It is always difficult to make people change the way they do things, but you made their life easier. What slowed down the take up of your app?

Not having iPads was an issue when we started a couple years ago, but less and less so and now not really mentioned.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Go for it but know what you are getting into! Long hours and constant push to the next goal, but also amazing growth and learning. Always listen to good advice from people with experience, but judge for yourself how far to take it.


What other issues could become a business idea?

A modular framework to help collections digitise their collections and share them with the public, including interesting ways of ‘telling the story’ of objects and sub-collections. They could use Articheck to take images and add some data, then export that to a ready-made website where they just make a few choices on how it is presented and the rest is quite automated. A bit like a combination of web-based software that allows easy importing wizards that identify your CSV columns and match to their template (like Mail Chimp), and website builders, but tailored for collections.


Apart from making a process much easier what good Articheck does to the arts world?

One of our plans is to use data analysis to help collections maintain their artwork, so our contribution is preserving collections for the future!

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

Dubbed "the pinterest for artists"; hear about ArtStack first hand from its co-founder

Ezra Konvitz is the co-founder of ArtStack and will be a coach during the Startup Weekend Art London.


Tell us more about the “pinterest for artists” you’ve imagined and now run

ArtStack is the best way to discover and share art. We are the largest UGC database of art in the world, with over 500,000 works on the site.

ArtStack enables anyone to engage with art, see works they don’t already know and learn about art. We serve hundreds of thousands of art lovers, art professionals (gallerists, curators, etc) and artists globally.


What’s at the heart of ArtStack?

ArtStack is the first social platform for art in the world – creating a democratic way for people to engage with art and curate their own space online. Artists, auction houses and galleries use ArtStack to their work directly to the most relevant audience: people who have already expressed an interest in what they’re doing.

We are a social platform and follow best practices from across other social sites in other domains – these can come from companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Spotify but always in an art-specific manner.

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ArtStack is all about art promotion and enjoyment – it’s built around enabling people to promote art they love (or their own work). We make it possible for people to enjoy art online, in an art-specific environment, with all the information they could possibly need to get to know the artists’ work. This means people can learn about and discover work online, and also that they’re much more likely to then go an enjoy art in person. Studies show that people who see art online are then much more likely to engage with it in person; we want to encourage this so we’ve created a specific section of the website so you can see what exhibitions are on in hundreds of cities globally, and get a real idea of whether you’d like to see them based on the artists’ work.


What drove you to create ArtStack the way it is?

We understand the art world extremely well, which helps a lot with creating an art-specific product that reflects how people engage with art offline. I did an MA in History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art before working at the Serpentine Gallery and my co-founder, James Lindon, did an MA in Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art before working at Victoria Miro Gallery, Pace and establishing his own gallery. From a user experience standpoint, we focus a lot on bringing the most relevant functionality to create an interesting platform that serves our constituents, has a natural virality and strong retention. This has a lot to do with keeping ArtStack clean, simple and easy to use, with great design.

We work with people who understand art and are passionate about the internet – art online is an exciting area but it’s still in its infancy, so passion is as important as technical proficiency.



You’ve picked up on the power of social network, what other trend you think may have such an impact too?

Social revolutionised the way we use internet and how people learn about new things. We’re bringing that to art – but there are lots of other interesting trends online. People want personalised curation and they want to share their taste more than ever before. Mobile is a key way for people to engage and so we’ve invested a lot in our apps for iPhone, iPad and Android.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Do as much as you can to test your ideas with simple hacked together solutions. Always stay focused on your end goals and dream big but make the compromises necessary to get things going quickly. Keep it simple – people would rather go to a restaurant that does one dish very well than somewhere that does a million things to a poor standard. Prioritise one key element of your product and iterate on that to make it exceptional.

Make sure you’re truly passionate about your project: it will become your life, filling every waking hour so be sure it’s something you want to think about. Start-ups aren’t for everyone, and that’s ok. They’re not something you can take a break from: if you’re not doing it, it’s probably not getting done. It’s a different level of responsibility than with a typical day job: the peaks are higher and the troughs are lower.


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

Art should be accessible to anyone – helping make people feel comfortable around art, to see more art and to enjoy it in real life are key elements of what we do with ArtStack. I want people to be able to easily have an art experience offline or online everyday. The UK government is trying to support museums develop more digital engagement, which is terrific but it’s important to remember that 80% of apps are not used more than once after they’ve been downloaded. State support for individual arts organisations is important but we need to think more about how that works in the digital context.

We’re seeing a new aesthetic develop as a result of the internet and people are using the internet as a medium which is tremendously exciting, but there will always be painting and sculpture. What’s great is that digital engagement can help more people experience and learn about more art today than ever before.

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

Curation for all: An interview with art:i:curate

art:i:curate is a crowd-curating platform with a mission to redefine the concept of “curating” by encouraging people to build their own collection, share the art they like and by doing so, co-curate future exhibitions.  Irina and Nur, the two founders of the platform, explain how art:i:curate works.

The concept of crowd-curation is highly fascinating. How did the idea come about? What pressing art world problem do you aim to solve?

There are two problems we are looking to solve.  Firstly, talented artists have a hard time displaying their works and putting them up for auction. It is difficult for them to find good websites where they can showcase their work. Secondly, we feel that there is no real dialogue between the art world and individuals. These days, individuals rely on what they are supposed to see. We think that you should ask people what they want to see and we do exactly that at our platform.

Founders Irina Turcan and Nur Elektra El Shami_Image courtesy of Alberto Gallo

How does art:i:curate democratize curation?

We hold physical exhibitions with the art our network likes on In addition to that, we have smaller events on a monthly basis with the aim of helping people to discover art. These include dinners with artists, casual drinks and so on.

How exactly do you make money?

Our business model has two main components: we charge a commission on the sale of each artwork and there is a membership fee to attend our smaller events (note: signing up to the website is free!)

And what about marketing? How do you promote your events as a start-up?

As a start-up, the main marketing channels we use are social media and our newsletter. It’s all about maximizing your resources. Also, it is important to have the key influencers in your network – they can spread your message much more easily.

Irina, I know you come from a finance background – why a start-up in the arts?

I have always been interested in art and have tried to engage with it. Initially, I pursued a career in finance because you can build great experience in working with diverse companies in different industries and develop a strong general skillset that you can apply later in a start-up environment.

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What are some of the main trends you see happening in the art world now?

There are more and more online galleries, inventory management systems and start-ups which facilitate communication between artists and buyers.

And finally, what are your top tips for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Our advice would be as follows: test your product well before launch, gather feedback from different parties and as far as choosing a co-founder goes, it must be someone you trust and can rely on.

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