Vastari: The Travelling Exhibition Network

posted in: Stories from Art Start-ups | 12

Over the past year, Vastari has been undergoing a particularly exciting time of growth following the launch of the Vastari Travelling Exhibition Network. We spoke with the Executive Director Francesca Polo to get the full details. Read on to learn more and join us at our event ‘Stories from Start-ups in the Arts’ to hear Bernadine Bröcker talk about Vastari.

 

Francesca Polo

 

It’s been nearly 1 year since you launched the travelling exhibition network. Tell us more about it, what is it?

Vastari travelling exhibition network is an online marketplace for museums and exhibition producers to promote shows that are available to travel and look for exhibitions to fill in their programming. All registered users can both upload available exhibitions or browse for exhibitions that are for hire. The system allows users to upload an exhibition proposal in pdf format and to thoroughly describe the exhibition by listing the artists included, the number of works/space required, past venues, attendance figures and explanatory material available. Conversely users can use the search engine to find available exhibitions and, once they find a relevant show, they can email the person who uploaded it directly. Alongside the platform our team of experts promotes the exhibitions through direct marketing, email marketing and presents them at museums conferences to ensure maximum visibility.

How does it fit with the original proposition of Vastari, which is to give collectors access to curators at major museums worldwide for exhibition loans?

Vastari’s proposition has always been two-sided: we help collectors gain access to curators and conversely make privately owned works available to curators. Two years ago, while we were working with museums to facilitate temporary exhibition loans, we started receiving more and more enquiries from museums to help them tour the shows they were preparing and this is how we decided to build the travelling exhibition network, which complements the exhibition loans platform creating a synergetic ecosystem.

So it is basically complementary to your original idea and became a product on its own. Where do you see most of the demand coming from, in terms of region and museum type?

The two platforms are complementary to each other. On the one hand when an exhibition tours, it might happen that some of the works cannot leave the country. In this case being able to source objects locally from a private lender is particularly valuable for curators as it simplifies the logistics and helps them to give a different spin to the exhibition. On the other hand, the travelling exhibition network is used by a select number of our collectors, who can export their collection from Vastari to the travelling exhibitions platform, where they can pose it as an exhibition.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Well what I like the most about my job is not having a typical day! Just to give you an idea, it can start with a call early in the morning to help a collector in China to lend a work to an exhibition, progress with an international call to arrange for an exhibition to travel from Europe to the States, and end with a meeting to discuss a partnership.

Do you get requests for additional services? How do you prioritise your product development?

We often have requests from collectors to help them with loan agreements and registrar services and/or to digitise their collections from scratch (i.e. photographing the works, cataloguing etc). In terms of development though, our core business is to connect museums and collectors and the consultancy services mentioned are just ancillary. Within a marketplace it is important to keep a balance between buyers and sellers, in our case venues and exhibition producers, and this is the main driver of our business development strategy.

Do you look for partners to complement your product or you aim to do everything under Vastari? (insurance, logistics, curating, etc)

We outsource most of our complementary services. We are not trying to replace any of the existing players within the art world, but rather to facilitate the communication among them so that exhibitions can be produced more efficiently. Moreover, as we deal with a wide range of different items, museums and collectors, outsourcing those services helps us provide our clients with the best fit, it would be impossible to provide expertise on everything to the appropriate standard!

What advice would you give to start-ups that outsource their product development?

Specifically for tech startups I would strongly recommend to not be afraid to invest in product development, having an app or a website that is scalable always pays off in the long run. It is also essential for the customer development team and the product development team to be able to communicate on daily basis, so that the product is built to meet the needs of the customers. In essence even if you outsource product development you should keep in mind that your product is the most important thing alongside your client base and that the two should be growing organically together.

How did you select your developer team and marketing support?

For the tech team we advertised the vacancy and organised an online test, once we had selected a group of candidates with appropriate skills, we held interviews before making our final decision. In terms of business development we had a slightly different strategy: we organised an assessment day for the candidates to sit tests and most importantly to interact with each others, as personality is very important when it comes to sales.

You have had external investors and now are in a phase of organic growth, what are the main pros and cons of both funding approaches?

I won’t demonise getting investors on board but I have to admit I definitely appreciated having had an initial phase in which, despite having very little working capital, we had the freedom to test the idea and expand. However, when you start growing, it is unrealistic to be able to support the organic growth without going through fundraising. One piece of advice I would give to startups is to carefully select the investors and consider what they can bring to the table in terms of skills, experience and introductions.

As you are a B2B brand, which channels do you find most valuable to build your name and reach your customers?

So far the most successful channels have been the international council of museums (ICOM) and the European fine art fair (TEFAF). As we value the privacy of all our users, we are not disclosing their identities to promote ourselves. Having such renowned organisations endorse us has been an honour and really had a significant impact in terms of brand building.

What has been most satisfying at Vastari this year for you?

Definitely the overwhelmingly positive response to the launch of our travelling exhibitions network, which helped Vastari to grow exponentially!

 

Francesca Polo is Executive Director at Vastari, specialising in touring exhibitions and in fostering relationships between museums and private clients in the US, Europe and emerging markets.Previously, Francesca was a researcher at the British Museum and Christie’s as well as various Italian galleries. Francesca has Master’s and Postgraduate Diploma degrees from the Courtauld Institute of Art London and a Bachelor’s from University of Milan.

 

Inspired? Hear Bernadine talk about Vastari at Stories from Start-ups in the Arts.

12 Responses

  1. You are the savior of my life.

  2. I needed to draft you the little observation just to say thanks a lot as before for your personal striking opinions you’ve shown at this time. This is really strangely generous with people like you to give publicly what a lot of folks might have supplied for an e book to get some profit for their own end, especially seeing that you could possibly have tried it if you decided. These ideas as well worked to be the easy way to recognize that the rest have the identical fervor much like my personal own to learn a lot more when considering this condition. I’m sure there are numerous more enjoyable opportunities in the future for those who scan your blog post.

  3. Thanks for your entire efforts on this blog. My daughter takes pleasure in doing investigation and it’s really simple to grasp why. A lot of people hear all about the compelling means you provide effective tactics by means of this blog and as well attract participation from other people on this content plus our own girl is now studying a lot. Have fun with the remaining portion of the year. You are performing a tremendous job.

  4. Thank you a lot for giving everyone an exceptionally pleasant chance to read in detail from this website. It is often so lovely and full of a great time for me and my office co-workers to search your website at the very least three times in one week to read the fresh items you have. Of course, I’m so usually astounded for the surprising secrets you give. Some 4 tips in this article are unquestionably the most suitable I’ve had.

  5. I am only commenting to let you know what a amazing experience my wife’s girl had browsing your webblog. She came to understand numerous issues, including how it is like to possess an ideal giving character to make other folks smoothly grasp several very confusing issues. You truly exceeded our own expectations. Many thanks for churning out the beneficial, safe, edifying and unique thoughts on this topic to Emily.

  6. I as well as my pals have been reviewing the best points from your web page and then at once came up with an awful feeling I never expressed respect to the web blog owner for them. Those boys are already totally happy to read through them and have now without a doubt been enjoying these things. Appreciation for being simply kind and for finding certain magnificent ideas most people are really eager to discover. My personal sincere regret for not expressing gratitude to you earlier.

  7. Thanks for all your efforts on this web site. Gloria enjoys carrying out investigations and it’s really easy to see why. A lot of people hear all about the powerful form you render reliable tactics on the web blog and foster participation from people on this area of interest plus my child is undoubtedly starting to learn a great deal. Take advantage of the rest of the year. You are carrying out a splendid job.

  8. I intended to write you the tiny remark to be able to thank you very much over again over the exceptional basics you have shared on this page. It has been really open-handed with you to deliver freely all a number of us would have offered for sale as an e book in order to make some profit on their own, most importantly seeing that you could have done it if you ever wanted. Those advice as well acted to become great way to recognize that many people have a similar eagerness similar to my personal own to see much more pertaining to this matter. I am sure there are numerous more pleasurable occasions up front for individuals who check out your website.

  9. I have to show some thanks to this writer for bailing me out of this dilemma. Right after surfing around throughout the the net and coming across suggestions which were not pleasant, I assumed my life was well over. Existing without the presence of answers to the difficulties you have resolved through the website is a crucial case, as well as those which might have in a wrong way affected my career if I hadn’t come across the website. Your actual capability and kindness in taking care of all the stuff was precious. I am not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t come upon such a step like this. It’s possible to at this moment look forward to my future. Thank you so much for the specialized and effective guide. I won’t be reluctant to endorse your blog to anyone who requires recommendations about this problem.

  10. I happen to be writing to make you be aware of what a awesome encounter my friend’s princess undergone using your site. She discovered a lot of issues, with the inclusion of what it’s like to have an awesome giving style to get many people completely have an understanding of certain impossible topics. You truly surpassed readers’ expected results. I appreciate you for producing the insightful, trustworthy, edifying and even fun tips on that topic to Evelyn.

  11. I have to voice my love for your generosity supporting all those that really need assistance with your issue. Your real dedication to passing the solution all through came to be really productive and have all the time encouraged employees much like me to arrive at their aims. Your entire helpful recommendations can mean a lot to me and somewhat more to my office colleagues. Thanks a ton; from each one of us.

  12. I and also my friends happened to be studying the nice tactics from your web page and so before long I had a terrible suspicion I never expressed respect to the blog owner for those strategies. Those boys appeared to be certainly very interested to read through all of them and have honestly been loving them. We appreciate you getting very accommodating as well as for deciding on varieties of fine subject areas most people are really desirous to be aware of. Our own sincere regret for not expressing gratitude to you earlier.

Leave a Reply