CITTART: How are the startups doing?

In cooperation with Ukrainian Startup Fund, a country-wide investment program that funds the most talented Ukrainian entrepreneurs, we start a series of articles with the winners of USF Demo Days. 

The column “How are the startups doing?” is dedicated to the stories of teams that received a grant from the Ukrainian Startup Fund and now can tell about their successes and what they have achieved.

Meet CITTART that raised $25000 pre-seed round for development – let’s discover what the project is about, where it is going to scale,  what kind of KPIs are on the agenda.

Tell us about your startup for those who hear about it for the first time

Cittart is a social network marketplace for contemporary art. The startup was created in response to the urgent need of Ukrainian artists and art buyers for a professional platform that could provide security, service, and emotional connection with art.

In total, as of March 20, more than 100 Ukrainian artists have joined Cittart, placing almost half a thousand works in the application.

This is a platform where you can get acquainted and buy the art of famous artists such as Alexander Roitburdt, Yuri Solomko, Vladimir Kochmar, and bright artists of the new art generation: Artem Volokitin, Anastasia Poderevyanska, Nina Murashkina.

How does this application differ from a regular marketplace? There you not only see the paintings on the website, but you also live different stages of the life of the art object together: moments of creation, travel through galleries, exhibitions, and houses.

The purpose of the Cittart mobile application is to make art closer to everyone. It is a tool that will open art both for those who have always believed that the world of art is available only in galleries and is an expensive pleasure and “phenomenon not for everyone,” and for connoisseurs who want to replenish their art collection without leaving home. Because now, with a gallery in a smartphone from Cittart, anyone can become a collector.

What was the story of the startup? Where did this idea come from?

The idea to create a social network of contemporary art and, at the same time, a marketplace was fully formed during one of our trips to Europe. The need for such a platform is long overdue, but it took time to form the image of Cittart with its unique advantages.

One night on the road, as is often the case when you don’t expect it, I imagined a news feed in which the main content is art objects and everything that happens around them. But not just as static pictures, but components of a story in which the context will be revealed and emotion will be transmitted.

The next day I called Georgy Vardanyan. He immediately supported the idea and said without hesitation that he was ready to take it up. This gave us confidence, and the support of the Startup Fund became one of the decisive factors due to which we launched the product.

Last year you received a grant from the USF. What has changed since then? Tell us about the success of the team

The most important: on March 20, 2021, we launched our application. The iOS version can already be downloaded from the App Store. And in the coming days there will be an android version.

We are happy that the art application Cittart worked out the way we imagined it – a simple and intuitive one. Already at the launch stage, more than a hundred Ukrainian artists have placed their works on the platform: now, more than half a thousand art objects are placed in the application. New artists are constantly sending works for moderation.

It was an extremely busy year. We have had a greater appreciation of business processes, overcame many challenges, scaled the team.

We are grateful to the Ukrainian Startup Fund, one of the first to believe and support our idea. We believe that this will be a significant step in the direction of digitalization of the art market and the development of more transparent market relations, which should positively impact the development of art in general.

Are you planning to scale? What markets are you considering for expansion?

We have just entered the Ukrainian market, and in the coming months, we plan to focus on development within Ukraine. However, in parallel, we are already working on a plan to enter foreign markets, and we will look for investors for specific markets.

From a technical point of view: the project’s architecture is planned in such a way that the project is ready for scaling. From the programming language to the server capacity we have chosen, everything is designed to make Citart a platform for sales in Ukraine and all over the world.

Globally, in the world, of course, there are many different marketplaces, mobile applications, websites. But the idea of our project is absolutely unique because we offer to look at art from another angle, we position it not just as a material object, but we focus on its context. This is a new approach for any market. So the geography can be quite wide, and we are still undecided, but first of all, we consider England, France, and other European countries.

The most difficult in this process can be only issues of tax regulation, insurance of artworks, and delivery. It is also necessary to adapt the model of payment systems. And now we are thinking about how to organize a system of payments to accept funds from abroad and transfer them to Ukrainian artists.

How are you finding working with the Fund?

Great, because the Fund’s structure is created specifically for startups, and it is expressed in everything: from the content and form of application for participation in the program to the distribution of the budget. Everything went very smoothly, and we were as comfortable as possible to work. From the beginning, we did not experience any problems with over-regulation or clerical work, as is often the case with public funding. It was such interaction when you feel that the startup team and the Fund are looking in the same direction and are interested in the same result. And in such conditions, cooperation is always easy.

The participation in partnership programs initiated by the Fund was also pleasant. We have been invited to participate in affiliate programs several times. For example, we now use Amazon Web Services because Amazon acted as part of an affiliate program and charged us free credits for using the services. I liked that the Fund attracts partners, other foundations, companies from which you can get training materials, or advice that supports business ideas that have just begun their development.

Tips for those who are just starting or dreaming of founding their own startup

  • Believe in your idea in 200%. Get involved with the support of a partner or several partners. Suppose there are two or three of you in the project. In that case, it is always easier to develop the idea by receiving criticism and advice from each other and to go through investor rejections or other moments of emotional decline.
  • Remember that small compromises kill a big idea. It is better to understand that all interesting ideas and features are unlikely to be implemented. It is necessary to allocate big ideas in time and focus exclusively on its implementation. Both during pitching and after receiving funding – focus on the key. It is better to execute the order skillfully and a client will turn to your product once again and then add new features to grab everything at once and give a low-quality product.
Read more about the Ukrainian Startup Fund program and apply now!
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