In this interview, we talked to Marcos Steverlynck, Founder and CTO of Rise Art, a platform that helps you discover and buy affordable original art. Marcos will be a panelist at our event ‘Stories from Start-ups in the Arts’, to be held on 1st October at 6.30pm at Google Campus. Read on to learn more about the story behind Rise Art.
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.
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.
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? Hear Marcos talk further about his experience at Stories from Start-ups in the Arts.