Ever wonder how your favorite painting gets from gallery to gallery across the globe? Shipping specialty items can create a ton of anxiety. Shipping a high priced item is not the same as going to FedEx or the UPS store and the process is opaque. Addressing this pain point is NYC startup ARTA, the marketplace that allows you to filter out exactly what you want in your specialty shipping service and sort through the various vendors to find the most trustworthy ones. Using ARTA will keep your shipment safe without hurting your wallet; all in a transparent manner. Expanding beyond art, the company is looking at antiques and furniture.
AlleyWatch spoke with Adam Fields about the interesting startup and its future plans.
Tell us about the product or service.
ARTA is a shipping marketplace for high value items priced over $10,000 that require specialized shipping. ARTA allows users to tap into a curated selection of local, regional, national and international specialty shippers to streamline the process of comparing quotes along with reduced rates, transparency and payment processing. Initially focused on art shipping, ARTA is expanding into other categories such as furniture and antiques that require specialized transportation.
How is it different?
We see ARTA as a disruption in the previously cluttered, inefficient marketplace of high value shipping. ARTA knows that there are already streamlined, integrated transport solutions for regular goods that might be shipped via common carriers (FedEx, UPS, general freight, etc.). Less streamlined and integrated is the business of shipping for online marketplaces, offline dealers, and their clients. Therefore, we offer a standardized, cost-efficient solution that has revitalized the luxury services industry.
We’re now finalizing our API layer that would allow other systems and infrastructure, from e-commerce platforms to inventory systems, to leverage our shipping network and technology with the click of a button.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
We are interested in the high end of the specialized transport market. Remember, our company started in art before expanding into other verticals. Although some may not realize it, the fine art transport market is a $12 billion global market. We started by taking a bite out of that market.
What is the business model?
There are no upfront costs or subscription fees; however, ARTA takes a transaction fee upon all booked shipments that are listed as a separate line item in order to add transparency to the process. We also have a transit insurance product that we can offer to users
What inspired the business?
Before ARTA, I was a founding team member of Artspace.com. There, I was Vice President of Supply and Logistics. During my tenure, I observed the company’s shipping issues — how our problems manifested both in online and offline entities. Speaking to multiple gallerists, dealers, and collectors, it became obvious that shipping was not only a big pain point in the industry, but also a huge business opportunity.
When dealing with millions of dollars worth of art are people really interested in saving a couple of dollars on shipping?
Most definitely, and I think your question gets to one of the central problems in our industry. There is such a wide range of varying costs from shipment-to-shipment that people always feel like they are paying too much. Being able to access better pricing from the best shipping providers in a comparative set with the click of a button, similar to a Kayak or Expedia, both streamlines the process from an efficiency standpoint and also ensures that people are getting the best costs possible.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We’re working to enter phase two of the ARTA product, which is essentially becoming the API layer for any item or object that requires specialized shipping. To accomplish phase two, we are integrating 3rd parties systems and infrastructure. We are finalizing all this with a major auction house now, and we should launch in the market by early 2017. This is something we are very excited about; it will make life so much easier for online/offline sellers along with buyers around the world.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
I learned a lot from seeing what didn’t work from previous endeavors; I saw a difference in how I wanted to run a business versus how others ran them; and finally, I learned that a strong vision can act as a guiding light when there are more questions than answers. A little ignorance can also go a long way.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
I’m lucky to have a ton of smart friends and investors who are involved with their own startups, so I have definitely enjoyed being able to talk strategy with them over the years. Honestly, I love meeting and talking to other entrepreneurs who are trying to solve complex problems. I am lucky to come across them in my line of work.
Why did you launch in New York?
Other than the fact that I love living in New York City, it is the global center of the contemporary art market; New York lies at the core of the arts ecosystem. I also think that New York is continually becoming a more important and significant player in the startup world with some amazing companies being born here every year.
Where is your favorite fall destination in the city?
Other than my couch to watch the Chicago Cubs make a postseason run, I love walking the streets of Chelsea on a Fall Saturday to check out the new art exhibitions.