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!

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!

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!

Explore the world of online business with Artfinder: sponsor and judge of SWArt London

Jonas Almgren, CEO of Artfinder, sponsor and judge of Startup Weekend Art London wants to help you own art you love.


Hi Jonas, tell us about Artfinder and your work.

I’m the CEO of  Artfinder, a marketplace for affordable art, allowing artists to reach art buyers globally. Similarly to Airbnb and Etsy, we market our sellers and enable all transactions, but we do not keep any stock and we do not fulfill any orders.


What’s great about the Artfinder marketplace?
Previously, art buyers looking for authentic, handmade art had to go to small, local galleries with a limited selection and inflated prices, and artists had no way to reach a global audience.  Our marketplace enable buyers to find affordable art they love, and artists to live from the art they produce.


Who buys from Artfinder?
Customers who want to add personality to their homes with affordable, unique art, and who aren’t happy with impersonal, mass produced posters and print-on-demand products.


How is Artfinder positioned against the competition?
We disrupt the market for mass produced wall décor, dominated by retailers such as Ikea and Pottery Barn, as people that previously thought handcrafted art was expensive and exclusive realise that they can buy truly unique, yet affordable, pieces with a real, lasting value.


What is your business model?

We are an online marketplace, and as such, we’re looking at other marketplaces, such as Airbnb and Etsy, for inspiration.


What type of skills do you need to develop your solutions/products?
We’re an online business, so we are always looking for software, design, marketing, and customer/partner relationship skills.


How did you choose and create your team?
As in any start-up, the team is the key. We’re looking for independent, self-driven people that are pragmatic and that can thrive in a fast paced, often fast changing (some would say chaotic), environment.


What are the top trends you see happening right now in the online businesses world?
Online businesses are still evolving very quickly, and new marketing and sales techniques are constantly being developed. It’s important to realise that we’re still just at the very beginning of online commerce, and even more so in the area of online marketplaces.


What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
To not fall in love with their business plan. Get out there, talk to prospects and customers, both before and after the business has been launched. Constantly test concepts, and make sure that you learn from every experience. Get smart, and adapt quickly.


Give us an idea for improving how we fund, make, share and enjoy art and culture?
Too much in the area of art funding has to do with events and venues. But the only direct way to fund artists is to buy their art. We need to focus more on selling art, and less on displaying it. More people should live with, and enjoy art every day, not just when they visit a museum or gallery.


How could the work you’ve done in your company be relevant to art promotion and enjoyment?
It’s about spreading the word that art is not expensive, it’s easy to buy, and it’s for everyone to enjoy.

Artfinder Logo

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