This interview was conducted over email with the Founders of Artyii.com, Shannon & Cai Lin, over the past weeks.
It started off in the classrooms of the Singapore Management University where we were previously students at. We share a passion of arts, business and technology, hence marrying the 2 together was really a natural progression. As Asians, we decided to focus on Asian art, creating a sales platform for asian based artists to put up their artworks and paintings for sale for free. We market their artwork as affordable original wall paintings to first time home buyers and corporates. I mean, why get a print at the same price when you can get a gallery grade painting?
How do you get started with Artyii.com?
Once we got the necessary funding from various parties, both of us left our jobs to pursue this passion and as they say, the rest is history.
What are the necessary stuff to prepare when starting a web 2.0 site?
It requires a lot of planning to start a good web 2.0 site. From the site architecture, user-interface, to the placement of action buttons, to optimizing the site for SEO and planning for future modules. Its actually a lot of effort but its rewarding when you see real users interacting with what you’ve built for them.
What are the difficulties you’ve encountered when you are starting the company?
For everyone who’s started a company before, you’d know that everyday is a challenge. You wear different hats everyday – from top level strategising, to managing operations, to being a lawyer, accountant, webmaster and HR manager all at the same time. That being said, the experience you get is truly amazing.
What are the basic cost of starting and running a web 2.0 site? What do you advise a student who has no money to start a web 2.0 site?
Well, it depends on what the objectives of your site will be. Will it be an innovative platform, social site or a simple shopping cart type site? It can range from SGD500 – 15,000.
Consider your hosting cost or ask around if you can host with a friend who already has a server. Use open source frameworks such as Joomla to build your site if you don’t require complicated and customised functions. Chances are, what you’re doing has already been done before and all it takes is finding the template for it.
Keep your costs low, you’ll definitely start spending more once you learn more. Hence, it would do well to work with someone experienced when building your site
How does Artyii differentiate from its competitors?
To our knowledge, its the only sales, information and community driven art sales site in english speaking asia. Artists are able to request an invitation for free and Artyii helps faciliate the sale all the way – logistics, framing, payment, liaising. We have art professionals that provide comments to these emerging artists’ work as well. So, if you’re looking to buy art online, Artyii is the only place in the world where you can get quality, original Asian art at great prices direct from the artist.
What are the directions of Artyii.com and where you want to go from here?
We are continuing our efforts to reach out to artists as well as to buyers in the states and U.K. We are also looking for corporate buyers here in asia that are looking for bulk orders of original art for their hotels and F&B outlets.
What is the most important element to make a web 2.0 site successful?
Everything plays a complementary role – User Interface, SEO, Efficiency, Branding, Content and the value proposition of your core product/service.
To know this takes a good team – hence I would say the people behind the site are still the greatest asset.
How do you manage to start a business when you are still studying in school? How do you manage your time?
Its doable, a step at a time and proper time management.
How do you get investors or people to listen to your ideas and not put you down?
At its core, the value proposition of your idea must be strong enough. then you must be able to defend your idea in all aspects convincingly. Besides that, its a whole lot of perseverance.
We know that you got investments from investors. How and what do you advice students to do?
For a start, believe in yourself and know where you want to bring your company too. If your conviction isn’t strong enough, there are 101 reasons/excuses that you’ll give yourself – lack of funds, don’t know how to write a business plan, too busy etc. Entrepreneurship isn’t for you.