Hopeful future, diverse Inclusion and uber-cool helmets at #InspireFest2015

Dublin was home for 3 days to all that love technology, innovation, and belong to the diversity and inclusion school of thought. As a community leader I had the opportunity to secure tickets to the #InspireFest2015 and after all said and done I am most excited to have had the chance to sit in that audience and engage with other participants and speakers.

Although my total time spent at the Bord Gais Theatre, venue for this year’s Inspire Fest, was 10 hours it was a really packed conference and here are 5 main takeaways:


1. We’ve got a hopeful future in the next generation

With people like Lauren Boyle, Emer Hickey, Ciara Judge, and Laura Browne with initiatives like Cool Steam Kids, Germinaid Innovations, and PowerScout, one can confidently hope for a better future. These young people are not build apps to become the next Facebook but are looking to solve big problems from education (STE[A]M orientation), to ending world hunger, and energy management.

It was also great to see today’s people providing the environment for these young chaps to thrive. From university programs in DCU and Trinity to Anne-Marie Imafidon’s Stemettes, we can begin to hope again because we’re in good hands.


2. There are business gains for a diverse inclusion agenda

Perhaps the most profound quote from #InspireFest2015 for me was one from Steve Neff, CTO Fidelity when he said:

Steve showed how inclusion and diversity brings about knowledge and value that a business may have never bargained for. Age, wealth distribution, customers, competitors are also some changes driving need for diversity-driven innovation, not to mention opportunities for entrepreneurs when trying to solve the issue of inclusion e.g. Child carers on demand for working women.


3. Fashion and Technology loving up in today’s world

As you’d see in the very short clip below, fashion and technology seem to have a thing going. Intel labs showcased one of its work with duo Turkish designers at the #InspireFest. I got discussing this with a friend after the conference when I said – wouldn’t it be cool for your dress to link up with your watch or phone and tell you as you’re about to leave the house whether your clothes go with the weather.


4. The future of work is an interesting one

This is a statement DAQRI‘s co-founder Gaia proved with the showcase of the smart uber-cool helmet known as the 4D. She touched on the current outlook of work today – repetitive, laborious and monotonous. With technology such as 4D, work becomes purposeful, connected, and empowering. DAQRI just opened its European HQ in Dublin with a first hackathon to get the developer community in on the future of work. No doubt things are about to get interesting in this space one can agree things are about to get interesting.

Discussions on the future workplace also took place on the first day at #InspireFest2015. While it’s easy to sense some form of consensus among the panelist that work is to be flexible and virtual, that’s a very interesting debate as Yahoo’s Marisser Mayer is currently pushing the agenda to get everyone back to the office building.


5. You should be at #InspireFest2016 because Cindy Gallop said so

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 http://artguru.me, 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.

Alexandre Picture VI

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!

How to lend your artwork to major exhibitions? Vastari has the answer

Bernadine Brocker, Founder and Managing Director at Vastari will introduce Startup Weekend Art London and is also a coach and judge of the event.


Bernadine comes from a background in the commercial art world, part of the core team setting up an Impressionist and Modern gallery in London in 2010. She is also a scholar of art history, a graphic designer and originally trained as an illustrator.


What is Vastari and what do you do?

Vastari is an online platform designed to give collectors access to curators at major museums worldwide for exhibition loans.

I run the day-to-day operations of the business, dealing primarily with clients and museums. As I used to do a bit of web design, I also work closely with the product development team.

At a start-up, one ends up doing a bit of everything. I’ve turned into a little bit of an accountant, a fundraiser, a coder, a travel agent and a lawyer.


How did you come up with the idea for your business?

While I was managing a gallery in Mayfair, I encountered collectors who would love to lend, but didn’t know how to get in touch with museums. Curators I spoke to would like to work with private individuals for their exhibitions, but don’t have the time to research where these works have ended up.

Vastari eliminates the need for a middleman when dealing with this research for exhibitions, by providing a secure online environment for them to interact. Curators can browse through collections to find works related to their upcoming show, and collectors can upload their works knowing that they will only be contacted for exhibitions.

In this way, Vastari’s mission is also to help promote a strong relationship between the public and the private art sector, necessary for both to survive and flourish.


Who is it for?

Vastari serves two different customers:

First of all, it helps private collectors who want to share their pieces with the public and increase the exhibition history of the work and validate its provenance.

Secondly, it helps curators who are planning exhibitions and need new and exciting pieces to include in their shows.


Why is Vastari such a good idea?

Traditionally, the process of borrowing and lending private works for exhibitions has been extremely slow and tedious. Collectors lend pieces to museums in order to raise the profile of the work of art. However, the introducer is usually someone with a commercial interest in the value add of this process. Often, the whole process becomes an annoying grapevine of forwarding letters with no guarantee of success.

Through Vastari, we are bringing this to the twenty first century by providing an online platform where collectors and curators can interact directly without the need of an introducer. Curators have embraced our platform because they know the collectors have a predisposition to lend. Likewise, collectors like the fact that their privacy is protected and that they won’t be approached for sales but solely for exhibition loans.


Have you borrowed (and improved) tech that is more commonly used in other industry sectors?

When I was putting together the website, I was borrowing a lot of ideas from real estate and dating websites, funnily enough. It was helpful to see how people work with high value items like property, and unique personalities like people, when analysing how to build a search engine for art.

Also, we have observed privacy settings from financial websites, to ensure that our clients feel their works are secure on Vastari.


What type of skills do you need to develop your solutions?

The main skill you need to develop a website are persistence and patience.

It helps if everyone on the team knows how to read code, and you need someone on your team with technical prowess to ensure everything is of a right standard.

In Vastari’s case, speaking many languages is crucial to enable global reach.


How did you choose and build your team?

For product development, our team is built of an amazing ASP.NET coder with over 10 years’ experience, and a variety of freelancers who work with us on various projects depending on the needs.

Francesca joined from the British Museum in late 2012, having experienced the issues with researching privately owned works first hand. Angela joined 3 months later to help with social media, press and client development in North and South America.

We started having lots of interest from Asian clients, which is when Marta joined the team. She is originally Polish but is an expert in Asian art and speaks Japanese and a bit of Mandarin.

Our team grew according to the needs of our clients, and also according to the chemistry we had when working together. You have to go through many highs and lows together so it is important to communicate and get along.

The team behind Vastari:

Vastari Team Photo


What do you think it key to drive innovation in the artworld?

We’ve come to an era in which it is imperative for those in the business to embrace technology rather than to fear or be sceptical of it. In a way, we’ve been quite lucky because more and more offline and obsolete practices are moving towards the digital, and using technology to facilitate their practices. From digital cataloguing, to online auctions and even online galleries, people understand that it is time to move the offline art market online.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Make sure you listen. To everyone.

When you have a good idea, you tend to tell everyone about it, and want to convince everyone of how important it is to the world. But the best thing you can do is hear what others have to say. Find out what is important to them, rather than to you. Find out what others did with problems in similar situations to you.

Then, take all of that information and turn it into your own. You will still sometimes reinvent the wheel and/or trip over the same rock twice, but you will be going at double the speed of any other startup.


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

If I did, I would be doing it!

Just kidding – there is a lot to be done in the furthering of culture internationally. Especially with the advent of crowdfunding, image searching, image recognition software, open data and the improvement of projection hardware, the sky is the limit.

Vastari Pitch 1


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

Do what you love and love what you do – an interview with Art Start up Vastari

Inspiring video interview of the startup Vastari at Microsoft Ventures Space in London.

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Vastari connects collectors to museums for exhibition loans.

This is an excellent example of how to create a marketplace that helps promote art and ensures more people in more places can enjoy the artworks.

  • Art owners , museums and galleries can rely on Vastari to ensure their privacy is respected and the databases are extremely secure.
  • Vastari opens up more opportunities for art lovers around the world to come face-to-face with great artworks they would otherwise never see.