Startup advises art collectors
A startup has launched an online platform to help people become art collectors by connecting them with advisors who guide them through the art-buying process.
Start Garden, the $15-million seed fund in Grand Rapids, said this month that it will make an initial $5,000 investment in Kollecto.
Kollecto is an online platform for art advisory services for people interested in collecting art at affordable prices.
The platform is designed to cater to young professionals looking to acquire a first or second piece for under $3,000.
Kollecto pairs each client with a personal advisor to curate artwork and negotiate prices based on a customer questionnaire on preferences.
Customers pay a small advisory free if art is purchased through Kollecto, in addition to financing the piece.
Out of its client base, 67 percent of users pay $100 to $300 each month for artwork.
Tara Reed, the founder of Kollecto, who has worked for Google, Foursquare and Microsoft, said that Kollecto is built to be mobile-friendly, and clients can view the artwork on their phone after an advisor selects a potential piece.
“I’m constantly iterating and improving on the experience,” Reed said. “We just added a free class for aspiring art collectors. That’s probably my favorite new feature.”
Kollecto also provides an opportunity for freelance art advisory professionals to work with clients and receive a 10-percent commission on each sale.
Each freelance advisor works with five to 10 art collectors every month, while leveraging their own network and various art galleries to meet the needs of their clients.
Using the ratio model of one advisor to multiple art collectors, Kollecto said it can assist 10 clients in the same timeframe as one high-wealth collector.
With intimidation and cost cited as factors that deter art purchases, Reed said Kollecto is meant to solve the friction points preventing people from buying art.
The idea to pursue a technology-based art service for young art collectors developed when Reed bought her first painting for $800 after receiving advice from several art professionals.
“They helped me negotiate price and muster up enough courage to ask for a payment plan,” Reed said. “I blogged about my experience and receive a lot of interest from young professional friends who told me they would buy art too if they just had someone to help them.”
Reed said Kollecto will use the Start Garden funds to grow its network of advisors and aspiring collectors, as well as conduct marketing experiments, such as targeted ads for art using a new way to discover art matching a collector’s taste profile.
With her recent move to Michigan, Reed said she’s excited about the Start Garden investment, which is the first step in growing the service’s network in Michigan.
“The Start Garden investment marks a turning point for me and for Kollecto,” Reed said. “A lot of my network and mentors are in New York City. I really want to build Kollecto in Michigan, but I’d be lying if I said I never worried about finding my place here as a Michigan entrepreneur. The Start Garden investment is exciting, because it gives Kollecto money, but also because it is the first step in Kollecto finding a home as a Michigan startup. I have a lot of respect for Rick DeVos as an art entrepreneur. I wouldn’t have this first investment from anyone else.”