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Creating a highly curated online marketplace for quality Indian art

Aditya Mehta talks about his startup Art&Found, a Hot 100: Race to Grace 2017 winner, that connects artists with young buyers looking for art at affordable prices. By Satyaki Sarkar

In the creative industry, one is either a creator or a curator, and Aditya Mehta knew that the former wasn’t exactly his cup of tea. But he was still incredibly fascinated by art and wanted to contribute to the industry. His role as Senior Art Director at Ogilvy, Mumbai, has introduced him to some of the most talented artists, graphic designers, photographers, and illustrators. It helped him gain a unique perspective into the creative community, that he saw as being quite disorganised. That is when Aditya decided he would build a platform to showcase and sell works of art, targeting a younger generation of buyers looking for highly curated, quality art, at affordable prices.

The inception
“We uncomplicate art,” says Aditya. “When we started this we wanted to change the scene in a big way by fixing three things. First, most people didn’t understand art. We discovered that you don’t need to understand art, to love art. Second, art was expensive. This was an easy one. We just made amazing art super affordable. Third, you always sort of needed someone else to do up your space. Now you won’t. At Art&Found we make it possible for everyone to own art. I wanted to make it accessible and affordable, especially for those who simply want to do up their living spaces, like homes and offices. They might not necessarily buy art as an investment, but are passionate about it. Becoming an entrepreneur really pushes you to achieve things by yourself, and I realised that I wasn’t being challenged enough at my job. So, fuelled by my idea and the drive to do something by myself, I launched Art&Found (www.artandfound.co) in March 2016 with my own savings. It started off as a side project that has evolved into a startup with a small team that works out of Mumbai.”

How it works
“Art&Found is a curated platform to discover quality, affordable art by Indian artists around the world. The works available range from Rs 1,100 to Rs 19,500. Artists can sign up, list their art on the platform, and use the dashboard to manage their artworks, track sales, orders, and receive their earnings once the transaction is complete. The works listed are made available to a younger generation of art lovers, especially those between 22 to 42 years.

“Art&Found is not the first online marketplace for art, but we did extensive research to figure out the specific industry pain points and worked on them to make a better, more efficient product. We have the highest commission on sales for artists, along with personalised dashboards for artists and buyers, and offer personal curation services. None of our competitors have the aggregated service repertoire that we have, plus the competitive pricing and commission rates. This makes Art&Found the go-to space for interior designers, architects, and home designers.”

Tapping into a sweet spot
“There are two types of companies in this market. There’s the high-end fine art marketplace, which caters to high society individuals who see art as an investment. Then there is the fast moving consumer/fashion goods market, where art is sold as a product on mugs, phone cases, clothes, etc. Somewhere in the middle is a sweet spot that goes into the decor category, offering art as an accessible, affordable product. That’s the area Art&Found focuses on, providing exceptional UI and UX, unforgettable branding, along with authentic validation by artists themselves. All our marketing and promotion has happened through word of mouth and social media.”

Revenue model
“We make money on every sale, and so do the artists. Transparency is something we value immensely, so artists get paid directly and immediately as soon as the product is delivered, while the commission flows towards the company’s revenue. Six months into our launch we raised $110,000 in seed funding. Our average order value is around Rs 5,500, which is expected to increase by at least 50 after the relaunch planned for next month. We’ve upgraded the platform with a new look and added a host of features and options.”

Looking towards the future
“Being a sole founder I’ve faced quite a few challenges. In the beginning it was hard getting artists to sign up on the platform. They were already there on other similar portals, so differentiating Art&Found was very important. It was through our design and UI, along with the streamlined process, that we were able to convince artists that their interests aligned perfectly with ours. It’s still early but believe Art&Found will soon completely streamline and transform the online art marketplace. Besides our online ecommerce model, we also have an offline model. As part of the latter, we recently started styling spaces with art. We worked on two co-working spaces, one each in Mumbai and Bangalore, where we styled the entire space with wall art, murals, fabrications, etc. We are also looking to organise events and art exhibitions, giving artists a place to physically showcase their art to potential customers.”

Graphic: nuchylee / Freepik 

Categories:   People, New Kids on the Block

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