SINGULART was founded four years ago thanks to the collaboration between Denis Fayolle, Véra Kempf and Brice Lecompte; three passionate Cofounders looking to disrupt the art market.
“Digital is a great equalizer. I’ve enjoyed putting my digital skills to use in order to promote artists around the world.”
The company’s aim was simple from the beginning: empower artists worldwide and to help art lovers and collectors discover amazing artwork.
“The art market was built as a strongly segmented market that was dominated by regional and local markets. Thanks to SINGULART’s digital set-up, we are able to offer a worldwide view of the art market.”
Today SINGULART’s team is made up of 26 nationalities and we speak several languages. This diversity fosters innovation and enables us to look at things from different perspectives.
Over the course of four years, the company has evolved exponentially but the initial spark remains our driving force.
In celebration of our anniversary, we will take a look back on key moments with Véra and Brice to reflect on how passion and an entrepreneurial spirit can drive an online gallery to international success.
Did you imagine that SINGULART would be such a rapid success after just four years?
When we started the project, I was well aware of the short lifespan of many startups. They say that only one in ten will succeed. But even knowing that, I never questioned the success of SINGULART. Our Cofounder Denis has a wealth of experience as an entrepreneur, and he was really confident in our idea and regularly reminded us how extraordinary the concept was. His confidence was inspiring and pushed us to be bold. Looking back, I honestly think that I was a bit naive and that we were really lucky. I also know that I’m very impatient, so SINGULART was built to move very fast. We were able to quickly raise our first million euros, recruit team members, as well adapt to a changing market. Moving forward, it’s crucial for Véra and me to keep learning as entrepreneurs. We know that growth can bring chaos, which forces us to adapt and grow as leaders. We are excited to continue at this rapid pace!
How did you see the art market change over the years?
Of course, COVID changed the world for everyone. In the art world, it forced everyone to digitize overnight and it will continue to impact the field. It meant that working with artists moved online, more collectors emerged while well versed collectors had to acclimate to the online world, even traditional auction houses had to embrace new ways of displaying lots online. It also accelerated the interest in things like NFTs and brought digital art into the mainstream.
At the same time, the online market is still fragmented and has a myriad of players, so I imagine there we will see a consolidation of sorts in the near future.
I think that new consumption patterns, people staying at home, etc. will push everyone into a more digital-first mindset and that online will become a major player in the art market. People are going to want to surround themselves with sentimental goods such as art, and they will see buying art online as the norm thanks to this digital revolution.
Do you have a standout memory from the past four years?
I have a lot of great memories, so it’s hard to choose. I guess my mind goes to the first time that I had a coffee with Véra and we talked for three hours. I also remember tough moments, like when we were searching for our CTO, it felt impossible. We went so far as to make shirts that said “Startup in Art seeks its CTO,” which we shamelessly wore at developer conferences. There were also funny moments, like when one of our artists, Alain Pontecorvo who was 85 at the time that we signed him, came to our offices with a CD to give us photos of his artworks. Of course, we didn’t have any way to read a CD by that point, but it was sweet.
Finally, the most important moment came just three days after we officially launched the website. I was ordering a salad when I looked at my phone and saw that we had made our first sale ever at SINGULART! A German collector acquired two artworks from Sara Willet, an artist based in the UK. We are so grateful to that collector and are proud to say that we still work with her.
What big lessons have you learned from being an entrepreneur?
Collective intelligence is key, you need to surround yourself with people who challenge your way of thinking. Alone we go faster, together we go further. At SINGULART, we wanted to build a team that shares common values but who has complementary skills and perspectives. Our strength lies in that diversity. We also regularly meet with key players across the art market, the startup world, entrepreneurs, and investment firms, we’re just curious by nature!
What is your next challenge?
There are a lot, but the most important in the coming months is building a strong brand that is recognizable from Tokyo to Los Angeles. We also need to provide new services and empower our artists, especially in this post-COVID world. In order to do that we need to recruit international talent, we are currently looking to recruit 100 people in the next 12 months to join us in Paris. Most importantly, we need to stay true to our values despite our rapid growth. Our convictions are what differentiates us in the contemporary art market.
Did you imagine that SINGULART would be such a rapid success? Did you imagine such rapid success?
These four years passed so quickly that I think it’s important to celebrate each anniversary. It gives us a second (but only a second since we’re still impatient entrepreneurs!) to congratulate ourselves on the path that we have taken, to reflect on the milestones and to thank all of the people who made this all possible.
We always hope for success, but we know that startups struggle to survive past their first year.
I am profoundly grateful for all of the people who believed in us at the start of it all. Every investor, every artist, and each team member were key to our success. Everyone signed up for something that sounded great on paper, but we were all entering into the unknown together. I’m also thankful for all of the lessons that I have learned over the years. I’ve learned to let go of things that would have stressed me out enormously in 2017. And I’m now way more at ease with making complex decisions and feel confident in my role.
I like to divide these past four years into several segments, each with its own feeling, you could say. The first six months after the launch of SINGULART were nothing like the six months after our Series A fundraising, for example. My role as a Cofounder has evolved at each phase, which is the nature of the beast I think: knowing how to adapt to the team and your role as the company grows is essential.
Do you have a standout memory from the past four years?
There have been many beautiful moments over the past four years, which I treasure.
One that stands out for me is from back in April 2020. We were seeing that many artists were creating works that related to the consequences of COVID and collectors were acquiring those works. This really impacted me because it illustrated what art is all about, telling our stories, letting artists create work that resonates with another person. It’s incredible.
In celebration of SINGULART’s anniversary, the curators created the collection “Creative Joy.” Why did this theme resonate with the team?
Our role is to be the conduit between art lovers and artists, allowing creativity to spark a connection between strangers. Joy is at the heart of this exchange and has been the reason that we’ve made it to four years and will continue to thrive!
The purpose of SINGUALRT is to empower artists, how have you approached this?
We set a number of milestones so that we could achieve this goal. The first was to prove that we could help locally recognized artists gain international recognition. Since we have become one of the top online platforms for selling art, I think that we have achieved that step.
We are proud to be able to offer a stable platform for both artists and art lovers. We are also continuing to invest in our artist community, and we see great potential for more collaborations and beyond.
What are your plans for the next four years?
We will continue to anticipate the needs of artists. I want to tackle things such as pricing issues, improving communications, and implementing new solutions so that artists can spend more time creating.
As for our collectors, it’s interesting to look at the dynamics of the different markets and consider how our actions can reinforce confidence in our brand. We’re excited to introduce more and more collectors to artworks from all around the world.