Enterprise in arts: success by different strokes

Jessu John | Updated on January 24, 2018

ADITYA PISUPATI, Co-Founder, Artflute


From demolishing the discomfort around buying art online, new art houses are thinking big

World over, more online art businesses are making it easier for regular folk to invest in art. While not everything always goes well in the space and it takes acumen to succeed, the right guidance and partnerships may take some online art marketplaces in India to consistent profitability.

In this edition of Start-up Island, we take a close look at how, a young online marketplace, as well as its relatively established competitor Artflute (erstwhile Pix My Wall) are gearing up to not just survive but also grow big.

B2B opportunities

Artflute began more than three years ago with a subscription model. When co-founder Aditya Pisupati spoke to Start-up Island in mid-2013, he was clear that a Keep-Buy-Exchange model was the only way to educate potential customers and expand the market for affordable art.

“We had many B2B opportunities thanks to that model. When we closed that year with ₹7 lakh in revenue, our gross margins were low… Of course, we learnt a lot in that first year,” says Pisupati.

Newer online marketplaces, arguably, had it easier. For one, they had a captive market that was growing. IIT-Kanpur incubated ArtZolo had its own ups and downs with profitability, but reports having seen average revenues of ₹2 lakh some months since setting up shop in January 2014.

“Twenty per cent of our annual revenue was from one B2B project. We spent much of 2014 testing the waters, having an exhibition offline, and we also managed to partner with Kochi-Muziris Biennale to raise funds for them,” says ArtZolo’s co-founder Vishal Singhal.

ArtZolo is reportedly in discussions with angel investors for a $200,000 bridge round of funding.

Survival means change

A segment with little precedent for investors to fall back on needs good news. Meanwhile, Artflute is laying more confidence in its new business model.

It also claims to be seriously curating what gets on its e-store, because affordable art does not mean any art.

“We were training our eyes on all markets in India, but also all over the world. A visit to the US taught us that stakeholders — from artists to galleries to framing shops — were working in silos. So we decided to grow our company through a network model,” explains Pisupati.

Artflute aims at turning every living space into a gallery and operates now by collaborating with galleries, consultants and anyone else who can help buyers enjoy art from anywhere in the world.

ArtZolo will look at staying in the pink of health by focusing also on channels like corporate gifting.

Published on July 27, 2015

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