Ian Syer, co-founder of MyArtBroker, talks about the online platform connecting art buyers and art sellers.

MyArtBroker is an online platform which connects art buyers and art sellers. It has been referred to as “the Uber for art” in that it exists to bring two parties together for a mutually beneficial purpose. MyArtBroker allows the trade of secondary market artwork around the world, allowing anyone, individual, gallery or dealer to source or sell artwork without barriers, complexities or the risk of other sites. We caught up with co-founder, Ian Syer to find out more...

What was the inspiration for the site?

I’d been a consultant in an art gallery for some time and through my regular interactions with clients, the relationships I formed with them as they built their collections, I’d begun to notice that there were limited options for selling art outside of the auction house. I was interested in this ‘secondary market’ (aka when art gets resold), its dynamics and how difficult it seemed to be to access. That was when the idea began to germinate, was there a way we could help art buyers and collectors buy from the secondary market, without the risk of eBay (issues with authenticity) and without the exclusivity and fees of an auction house. Over the coming months we looked at gallery spaces, following the traditional route - until we hit upon the idea of an online platform which essentially connected buyers with sellers and vice versa. One night, over a couple of glasses of red with my brother Joe, we decided to go for it - and MyArtBroker was formed.

When did you launch the site?

We launched our first website in 2010, and we’ve gone through two or three redevelopments over the years. Our aim is to keep improving the online experience because our members rely on it being simple and safe, so we’re always trying to stay ahead of the curve in terms of best practice and technology. We’re at almost 10,000 members so it’s important they are happy! May 2017 was the last push of development updates to the site, and we’re planning more improvements this year.

What are your greatest challenges?

I.T. without a doubt. Finding the right tools and the right software to run your business, finding the right web developer – these things are crucial. Coming from a sales background I had no respect for software and development processes. It's taken a long time and a lot of mistakes to get this right. I would caution anyone against just jumping in or not taking advice!

What's your background?

I’ve been in the art industry for many years, selling art and managing gallery spaces, before starting MyArtBroker with my brother Joe in 2010. Joe studied marketing, but had always been a bit of an art buff, his collection of art is impressive, think Banksy’s, Harland Miller, Conor Harrington…

Who do you admire in business?

Many people! But Peter Jones springs to mind as someone who has always been on my radar as someone who has been extraordinarily successful.

Please recommend a website and / or app that helps you run your business

We use Base CRM which helps us manage our increasingly growing member base, and allows us to manage deals in the pipeline, forecast and manage comms.

What is the best piece of business advice you've been given?

I had an old boss that would always say; “Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity.” I never quite understood the true value of this until running my own business. It can be easy to get carried away with your numbers, but it’s what’s on the bottom line that matters.

What is your motto?

JFDI. Just F***ing Do It!

Where do you see the business going from here?

Growth! It’s all to play for right now, the past couple of years saw some mergers and acquisitions in the space, the jostling for position will continue and that can only benefit art collectors. We’re in a unique territory occupying both the online art buying space whilst simultaneously being part of that ‘sharing economy’ - the connection of users with providers. Like Air BnB and Uber, we don’t hold stock, we don’t own art, we match those that have with those that want. But, we also oversee that process, making sure the art people buy is authenticated and condition checked; we think that personal service and reassurance will stand us in good stead as we grow.

Have you entered an award before? If so, which one, why did you enter and if you did well, tell us about it.

We entered the Fine Art Trade Guild Awards in our first year, for best website, and we won!

Where did you hear about the GWG Awards?

From our Marketing Director!

July 2017