Rise Art is the best way for art fans and collectors to discover and own great art. I recently had the opportunity of interviewing Scott Phillips, founder and CEO of Rise Art who talked me through his journey setting up the company.
In the interview, we talked about his difficulties starting Rise Art, getting traction in the early stages, funding, business model etc.
Hi Scott, great to have you on YHP?
Thanks, fun to be part of the site.
Could you quickly give us some background information about yourself?
Sure, I originally moved to Europe in 2002, initially working in France for a large media business. In 2005 I moved to London to do an MBA at London Business School. Since then I have been actively involved in Technology companies ranging from Software, to Online Video. I love playing baseball and tennis, and am an avid art fan and collector.
So how did you initially get into business?
My wife is a painter as a hobby, which is what initially got me into art. We’d go to shows together on a regular basis. It amazed me how many talented artists there are out there, and how opaque and intimidating the art world can be for first time collectors and the average person to get involved. Rise Art was born on simplifying and promoting great art to a wider audience online.
Who were your inspiration growing and why?
Growing up, I was into politics. I admired local and national politicians, and was really interested in the US constitution.
What is Rise Art and how does it work?
Rise Art helps anyone discover and own great art without the risk and hassle. Join Rise Art and take our art personality quiz. It is fun and free, and based on your results, your receive tailored recommendations of great art from our curators. We work with rising and established artists to present a highly curated selection of the best original art and signed limited edition prints, with new releases every week. When you have found something you love, you try it in your home before you buy, by taking advantage of our risk free art rentals. Rent the work for as long as you want or return it free of charge at anytime. We also offer free returns on all purchase through the site. We want to make sure you love the work on your wall as much as you do on the site.
Learn more and watch our video here: http://www.riseart.com/how-it-works
What difficulties did you face during the startup phase?
All sorts. Finding great talent in the team has always been a challenge. Finding new innovative ways to market and expand our client base will always be a challenge.
How did you initially get traction for the business?
Through the artists that have their work shown on the site, and social tools and gaming mechanisms used on the website.
What is your business model?
What makes Rise Art different from any service out there?
We are working with the top artists to release a highly curated selection of new art on the site each week as chosen by our curators and partners. Not every artist can sell their work through the platform, so quality of the artwork is key. Our quiz helps people discover art that is relevant to them, and our art rentals, and no hassle returns policy, ensure you get great art in your home without the risk.
What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?
Respond to our users feedback. Iterate on the site based on their actions, and make sure our artists and collaborators benefit from the platform.
Would you say the business has changed from the first initial idea?
I am not sure it has changed, but it has definitely expanded. We are now doing a lot of new things that we have implemented, such as the Rentals element, that is in response from feedback from our users.
How have you been able to fund the business?
We raised a funding round from early stage e-commerce investors, and now are funding the business as well through revenues.
What has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far
I think what is fun about starting a company is that each day is different. I love being my own boss, and while each day presents new challenges, it is a ton of fun to work with interesting people and challenge the way people discover and collect artwork.
What can we be expecting from Rise Art in 2012?
We just launched framing services and will be extending the platform to the USA.
What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Spend time and really understand the market and customer pain prior to launching a business. Validate your assumptions with knowledgeable people in the sector. Don’t be afraid to launch a product which isn’t fully ready. The first iteration doesn’t need to be perfect. Do whatever it takes to get a base product out there fast to test assumptions, and iterate off of your success.