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.

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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.

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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:

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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!








On building a successful cultural association: Enrica Mannari, director of Pirati e Sirene

Elisa: Hello, Enrica! I know this is a busy time for you, as Pirati e Sirene has just turned one; congratulations! So what have you been doing with the startup exactly?

Enrica: www.piratiesirene.it is a cultural association dedicated to promoting the life, the style and the culture of the Etruscan coast, which is in Tuscany. We have been promoting it both on- and offline, with the online element having the main aim of strengthening the fidelity of our supporters, whilst helping the brand and its reputation to expand. The offline side of things consolidates the online, by weaving relationships with people and working actively in the area the website glorifies.

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El: For me it seems this is a very community-based project that uses the Internet as a means of expanding this community, then?

En: Absolutely; it reaches out to the people who live along the coast as well as anyone who would like to visit the area. The main reason for establishing Pirati e Sirene was to fill a glaring gap in social exchange by forming a network made up of creatives and cultural events along the coast, and which, most importantly, would be a network accessible to everyone that could be consulted (and therefore updated) on a daily basis.

 

El: Would you say that you have filled this gap, and made a lot of noise in doing so?

En: Let’s put it this way: the strategy of using the web has led to us currently having a pool of users which comes to 30,000 individual views per month. After only a year of Pirati e Sirene’s existence, for such a ‘local’ project (for want of a better word), these numbers are very satisfying.

 

El: It must be a crazy experience to be reaching out to so many people! What is the main way you do this?

En: Well the Internet is obviously our main channel of communication, as it is the best way to get ourselves known and spread the word. This means that graphics, videos and photos all play an important role on our website and in promotional materials, both for advertising to potential followers and sponsors, as well as for maintaining a strong character that has brought our current users to continue following us.

 

El: And how do you generate money to continue offering this intense user experience?

En: This comes from a range of online activities that our site carries out, meaning the platform is self-maintaining in this way; so, for example, through articles and editorials that we publish on our portal and communications and market design workshops that we offer there. These could be given in person, but are further-reaching when offered online. We are, of course, very active offline, as well, organizing events and representing Pirati e Sirene at the events of others, too.

 

El: Do you think this blend of both on- and offline work is a trend in art-related startups right now?

En: Yes and no. The art-scene is becoming an ever-more ‘cross-contaminated’ environment, both in personal inclination and as a vocation. I would say that the best thing that is happening to the art scene now is indeed the fact that it is finding its way absolutely everywhere, thanks first and foremost to the web.

 

El: The Internet is even taking the art-world by storm; it’s true! Finally, on that very note, what advice would you give to people who want to start up their own digital business within the arts field?

En: Be professional to the max, have a great idea and surround yourself with trustworthy, reliable collaborators. It must be something you believe in wholeheartedly, and so you will be able to defend it against everyone who tries to find fault. Remember that a global approach is the formula that our times ask of us right now.

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Here is a video made on the occasion of their first anniversary:

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