Pandora transformed the way people listen to music, creating personalized stations based on the listening habits of users. Now, MyArtMatch founder and CEO Bruce Worrall wants to do the same for art.
Worrall’s 10-month-old Bellevue startup is launching this week, creating a new way for people to discover and purchase artwork. We chatted with the 48-year-old former CEO of GalleryPlayer for the latest installment of Startup Spotlight.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “MyArtMatch provides a fun new way to discover, explore and buy art.”
Inspiration hit us when: “Shopping for art for my house. I realized that finding art you like tends to be a really inefficient process since the buyers typically see only a small “sliver” of art relevant to them. This problem is further exacerbated when there is more than one decision maker involved — for example a spouse, roommate or coworkers in a small office. Conversely as an artist or art gallery, locating buyers that are interested in my particular style of art is often like finding a needle in a haystack. So why not create a service that matches the tastes of art buyers with art sellers and their works of art?”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We are a bootstrapped startup. Since raising funding often takes so much time and effort, we decided it would be faster just to build MyArtMatch and then focus on raising funds for growth after we launch. We are now starting to speak with both angel investors and VCs.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “The unique integration of our art matching system in combination with our social media based art discovery experience. MyArtMatch users can quickly discover art that matches their tastes; create their own personal digital collections; increase their knowledge of art; share and compare art tastes and collections with their friends which makes art buying experience more fun and relevant.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Focusing on time to market and where we can add value as part of the user experience.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Not bringing onboard some heavyweights from either the art or entertainment world. I wonder if Lady Gaga or Ashton Kutcher are available?”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Wow, that’s a tough one given that each has unique strengths relevant to MyArtMatch. Jobs creates great user experiences and MyArtMatch is basically the equivalent of iTunes for art. However MyArtMatch is in part premised on discovering and sharing art in a social fashion on Facebook, so Zuckerberg’s grasp of social media is certainly relevant. And of course, MyArtmatch sells art online, so Bezos’ capabilities to sell products online are also highly relevant. I certainly wouldn’t turn down help from any of them, but if I had to choose I’d have to go with Zuckerberg.”
Our world domination strategy starts when: “We are officially launching our service this week and we believe this will be the catalyst for our success, particularly in helping develop strategic partnerships and obtain investment funding to execute our business plan.”
Rivals should fear us because: “We’re smart, creative, fast-moving, know how to build a great product and cost effectively market, we have a unique and fun value proposition…and what we’ve done to date on a shoe-string budget only scratches the surface of what we plan to deliver in the coming months.”
We are truly unique because: On a bootstrap basis, we’ve simultaneously developed and launched 7 applications (Website app, Facebook app, iPad app, iPhone, Android phone app, Android tablet app and an ecommerce backend) simultaneously. This may never have been done before! (At least not be a bootstrapped startup company).
The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Proving that we could license sufficient high quality artwork. Thus far, we’ve licensed about 175,000 works of art and fine art photography. Another challenge has been keeping a primarily virtual team engaged and delivering on time when funding is limited.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Look before you leap. Do your best to have a 360-degree view of the business and make sure that the business model is sound. For example, one of the things I like about the MyArtMatch business model is its simplicity. We have a high margin, print-on-demand purchase model which does not require us to carry inventory.”