Shaishav Todi, Justin Alva and Rituraj Dowerah have a nice mix of backgrounds- Shaishav is an internet geek with entrepreneurship running through his family, Justin has a background in marketing and technology while Rituraj is the hard core technology guy. The three of them have got together to solve a problem for artists. Scanning the market and talking to visual artists, they realized that monetization is a huge issue for upcoming artists and that is where they wanted to come in. Is there a big enough demand for art in India (and from India)? That's what Cupick will figure out over time.
Cupick is a platform for artists to showcase and monetize their work by making it available on various consumables such as art prints, canvas, posters and cards (with a plan to expand to other products). "What sets Cupick apart from other merchandise focused platforms is our USP; empowering visual artists. We believe amassing creative content is a key aspect and we want to make artwork easy to share and sell," says Justin. The focus for Cupick is on the artists. Artists signup and upload their work. They decide which products they'd want to sell on and the prices at which it'd be available. Cupick takes care of payments, printing and shipping when orders come through. "Transparency is a key factor, hence, a dashboard to track sales and earnings," says Justin.
Cupick launched the private beta on 20th August, 2014 and opened shop to the public on 21st October, 2014. They currently have close to 2500 artworks uploaded, 350+ artists using the platform and a total of 1000+ artist registrations. Regarding the revenue model, Cupick makes money on every sale."We set a base price for each product which include our costs and margin. Artists then add their markup above this which then determines the selling price," says Justin.
With their launch, Cupick took the 'Design for Kashmir' initiative. Design for Kashmir is a collective started by designers, Prathima and Unnati. The two got together and decided to make a difference through art by crowdsourcing work from designers across the country. Cupick has helped monetized the contributed artwork and all proceeds from sales go toward the rehabilitation of those affected by the floods in Kashmir. They also have an editor's pick and put artists under the spotlight for a time period. For instance, the home page is currently taken over by Charbak Dipta's artwork.
On the consumer side, Cupick hasn't revealed any numbers with respect to number of transactions but it is still very early days. This is where they'll have to focus a lot more because at the end of the day, the customers will drive the monetization and that is what would bring artists to the platform. Even the FAQ section at the moment is totally focused on the artists but for me, as a buyer, I'd like to know things like if Cupick ships internationally. Cupick has consciously taken the artist focused route and moving ahead, they can pivot to something like a Behance for Visual Artists. Currently, Redbubble an Society6 are the dominant players and the torch bearers internationally. "Closer to home, we don't have a like for like competitor though Postergully and Bluegape operate in the product lines we operate," says Justin.
To begin with, Cupick received INR 10 lakh from an HNI for building the platform and getting initial traction. They're now looking to raise funds to help them continue working on adding new features, expanding products lines and scaling our user-base.