I haven’t posted since May 2014. Wow…that’s a long time ago. In the meantime, I have had lots of ideas and thoughts, but never got around to writing a post on them. I will try to correct that with a series of posts in the next few days.
The first one I want to address is my Impulse Art experiment. See my initial post on the subject – http://bigfatbooksinapage.com/2013/10/18/impulse-art-making-painting-a-viable-profession/
Experiment 2 – Would artists be interested in allowing us to make copies of their paintings and earn commission? Would they trust us to give them fair share of their profits(as we didn’t have any tracking mechanisms )
We searched on Facebook to find profiles where people had posted their own paintings. We also looked at other pages related to painting and tried to contact their owners. The good news was that most of the people we contacted were very interested in the concept. Very soon we had about 10 artists signed up. We started posting their paintings on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/impulseArtIndia/. We had promised the artists 50% of our profits for the copies we sold. Most of the artists agreed immediately and they trusted us to give them fair share of profits.
This was all very encouraging and the painting we received from them are of high quality & truly awesome. Here, I have posted just three of the paintings from two of the artists who signed up with us – Vijeta Pai & Prerana.
We started posting these paintings on our Facebook page and started garnering likes and comments. Our intention was to see which paintings get most likes and hence more likely to sell.After about a couple of months, we had a list of about 15 paintings which garnered the highest likes and we got them printed, framed and ready to sell.
Experiment 3 – Are these paintings good enough to sell?
We had to re-conduct experiment 1, but with paintings from real artists who signed up with us. We again set up shop on a street in Nagarbhavi on a weekend. We also had one of the artists join us. This was a huge boost to us as we thought we were getting credibility with the artist actually joining us. Similar to what art galleries do!
This time, the response was far lesser. We sold a total of 5 paintings for revenue of Rs.1520. Even though the response was less, we still sold the paintings. There were also other factors in this experiment. We had very few paintings at Rs.100 price point. We had become greedy and had more of Rs.400-500 size/price range. As the price increased, more people were bargaining with us( that’s why we have an odd figure of 1520!).
We also found out that dragging these paintings damaged some of the paintings( the frames and glass). We had to consider this while pricing.
Sustainable loss Concept
Most of the books on startups I read about talk about runway. This is the limited amount of money the founders have to burn before which the startup has to turn profitable. The analogy is that every plane has a limited amount of runway before it has to take-off. If a plane fails to take-off within this runway, it will crash.
I wanted to see if I can have unlimited runway. Can we keep working on this idea while keeping losses at a sustainable level? I started making charts to see what is the least number of paintings we needed to sell to continue working on this idea. Here is an initial chart considering a salary of Rs.5000 per month for a sales man –
As you can see, we had even thought of VAT if we took off and had to go completely legit :-). The numbers seemed pretty good. Even if we sell 1 painting a day, we would make a loss of Rs.3740 per month which comes within our “sustainable loss” limit of Rs.5000.
We started looking for a salesman willing to work for Rs.5000 per month + commission if he sells above a certain limit. We have apps to order groceries, order food, heck, even order drinking water, but we found that there is no easy way to find an unemployed person willing to work for Rs.5000!
We then started interviewing sales person who came to us to sell book and other stuff on the road. We found that they were willing to work for us for far less than Rs.5000, but the catch was we had to give them shelter and food. This was the trick being used by other companies. They get people from villages/small towns, provide them rooms and food and pay them as little as Rs.1500 for their work.We didn’t have the money or time to rent a house and hire a cook for this purpose.
Most of the other people we interviewed were also willing to work at around Rs.5000-Rs.8000 range, but were reluctant to join when we told them that their “shop” is mobile shop on the roads. They considered it to be more prestigious to work brink & mortar shops even if it pays less.
We did think of starting a conventional shop for a while, but the amount involved in setting it up and running it would have been higher than the “sustainable loss” that we were willing to take.
So, for now, we have stopped working on this idea, but I see that there are several new sites like http://paintcollar.com/ which are encouraging artists to try to sell their work. I hope to return to this idea once I have more time & resources at my disposal.