Startup Q&A: Jonas Almgren, ArtfinderLast Updated: May 1, 2020
Artfinder CEO Jonas Almgren climbs into the AGENT Startup Hotseat to answer our questions about his business, which is changing the way art is bought and sold online.
Artfinder, established in 2012 and based in Covent Garden, is a global marketplace for affordable authentic art that has become world’s fastest growing online art gallery and retailer.
The company is pitched as “the heart of an online art revolution”. It uses the global reach of the internet and social media to breathe fresh air into the world of art sales, making it easier for independent artists to reach a global audience, and for art lovers to own unique art at affordable prices.
Artfinder combines Jonas Algrem’s passions for technology, art, and startup businesses. In Silicon Valley he was involved in taking companies such as E.piphany from early stage to IPO. Prior to Artfinder, his first foray into the world of online art was starting VIP Art Fair in New York in 2010.
Jonas Almgren agreed to momentarily take time out from his online art revolution to answer our questions about his latest startup.
1. Very simply, what does your company do?
We’re a marketplace for original art directly from independent artists around the world. Our vision is a world where everyone buys art, and supports independent artists. We have an incredible international community of 7,500 artists in 103 countries, and we’re growing fast.
2. What was the ‘Eureka!’ moment?
Whilst living in New York I was surrounded by the high-end art world, and, coming from a tech background, it just struck me how strange it was that art is such a high-end product. There are around eight million independent artists in the world: that’s far too many to serve such a small market, and when you look at that in light of the growing demand for handmade, unique, one-of-a-kind items, it just doesn’t make sense. So we went about building a place where normal people can buy something incredible and one-of-a-kind, and support an artist at the same time.
3. What were you doing before starting?
I worked in Silicon Valley and New York for over 20 years, helping to build startups such as Epiphany with Steve Blank and PremierGuide, which sold to local.com. In 2010 I co-founded the VIP Art Fair in New York and then moved to London in 2013 to launch Artfinder.
4. How are you funded?
A mixture of private and VC funding, including Wellington Partners plus private investors in the UK, the US and Switzerland.
5. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs starting their own company?
I was lucky enough to work with Steve Blank in Silicon Valley when I was much younger and doubtless more arrogant, and what got me addicted to working at startups was that flat structure – that importance is given to great ideas and great thinking regardless of age or seniority. One of the most important lessons he taught me is to have the graciousness to hire the best people and the good sense to listen to them once you’ve hired them.
6. What object do you never leave the house without?
My Apple Watch. I’m a keen runner and have never been very good at sitting down all day, so now I have something that gives me permission to get up and be active!