Decoding #MaddyTop
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21 February 2020

14 startups disrupting what we know about art and culture

Once upon a time, artists just needed a simple piece of paper and a pencil for their inspiration to come to life. In the last decade, the different ways that we conceive and enjoy art have evolved with the rampant changes in technologies. Artists are finding new ways to make art, new technologies are changing our perceptions and clever entrepreneurs are inventing new ways for us to experience it. Maddyness has compiled a list of some of the game-changing businesses in the world of art and culture.

Sofar Sounds began back in 2009 when Rafe Offer invited eight friends over to a London flat for an intimate live music concert performed by friend and musician Dave Alexander. They shared a drink, sat and chilled on the floor, listening to the music. Since then, the concept has expanded into a global community for artists and audiences to meet in unique and welcoming spaces with an added element of surprise – to share, discover, create and, hopefully, find their new favourite band along the way. Today, Sofar Sounds has gathered a community of thousands of artists, hosts, fans, travellers and more, putting on hundreds of secret events each month across 444 cities around the world.

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Artfinder sells art that changes lives and aims to build a world where artists can make a living doing what they love. Consumers can find and buy original art easily, whatever their taste or budget. Whether you’re a collector or just curious, Artfinder connects you directly to independent artists around the world. Each piece of art is original and signed by the artist, and comes with its own unique story. The company believes in ethical production and is building a business that makes our lives better by filling our lives with beauty and supporting creativity in communities around the world.

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Founded in 2013, Articheck is a software platform used to create digital condition reports and was developed by a conservator. Today, the platform is used by galleries, museums, conservation studios, and fine art shippers around the world. 
Articheck aims to transform how the art industry makes condition reports, embracing technology to streamline a very intensive task. The mobile solution, delivered through an iOS app enables art professionals to make condition reports more efficiently and to a higher standard. Through intuitive user experience, Articheck gives the ability to add images and instantly annotate. It also has the ability to integrate with existing databases making the process fast and efficient from start to finish.

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Native is a platform that brings content and brands to your campus while providing students with event recommendations, new experiences and exclusive tickets off-campus. University is about discovery, new experiences, life-long friendships and unforgettable memories. From freshers’ week to society socials, spontaneous nights out to post-exam celebrations, native wants to make sure students live their university years to the max. Working closely with student unions, native has established itself as the go-to platform for students.

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Culture Trip is a global startup operating in travel, media and entertainment. The company creates stories that reveal what is special and unique about a place, its people and its culture. Their creative and editorial teams work with a global network of freelance creatives to tell location-specific stories with articles, videos, photography, illustrations and animations. Culture Trip wants to inspire people to plan their trips, go beyond their cultural boundaries and connect with the world around them.

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Created in Leeds by writer Steve Clarkson, Found Fiction is as inspiring as it is fun. Writers send the social enterprise short stories, which they print out, fold into envelopes marked READ ME, and leave in public spaces for people to find. When someone stumbles upon a piece of literature they’re encouraged to share their experience on social media #foundfiction. This moment marks a special bond between writers and readers creating a community of #foundfiction stories across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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The team is made of passionate filmmakers, content professionals and entrepreneurs with experience from successful global media, technology and data businesses. allows short films to be seen by a wider global audience and helps filmmakers find fundraising opportunities. They offer a vast library of short films for distributors and can license content that will be popular with different demographics. For licensed content, provides music and other rights. The content is pre-tested with real audiences in their own OTT platform available on TV, mobile and web.


SSSHAKE is the first mobile app dedicated to creative collaborations and allows creatives from different backgrounds to connect easily and locally. SSSHAKE sees creativity and opportunities everywhere. But as it isn’t always easy to make a living from creative work, they work hard to establish the most open, easy-to-use and collaborative marketplace for creativity. SSSHAKE is on a mission to get creative freelancers working to their fullest creative and commercial potential. Through their inclusive platform, they select the right creatives for each project to make creative collaboration and freelancing easier and more profitable.

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Arcade is an immersive technology company that uses AR to transform physical places and experiences. The startup aims to reveal places’ secrets, learn from its visitors, deliver personalised experiences and empower people to challenge the world around them. Arcade practices an enhanced method of design thinking, informed by their expertise in immersive technologies, architecture and commercial strategy. For their partners, integrating their technology results in higher visitor satisfaction and delivers operational, marketing and brand advantage.

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Artomatix makes it easy to create realistic, immersive 3D worlds by developing the first creative artificial intelligence that automatically generates 3D content. Focused on textures and texturing, Artomatix’s AI automates the tricky aspects of 3D content creation, enabling experts and enthusiasts to focus on creativity, which consists in high added value tasks that brought them to this field in the first place. Artomatix won NVIDIA’s Early Stage Challenge in 2015, reached the top 2.5% of TechCrunch Disrupt (2015) and the top 0.8% of Hello Tomorrow (2015). To execute its vision, Artomatix raised €2.1M in March 2017.

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When one of their artists start a funding campaign, Creatyve aims to sell a percentage of their artworks on creatyve in the form of shares. Owning an art share is like owning a virtual piece of the artwork. The owner is entitled to a part of the revenue generated when the artwork is sold, in accordance to their percentage, and the ownership and rights of the artwork belong to the artist. Funders can hold these shares in their creatyve portfolio and once the campaign has ended they can sell them in the creatyve market.

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Vastari has created a bespoke online platform streamlining the movement of artworks for international exhibitions and tours. Operating at the intersection of culture and technology, Vastari’s team combines skills from various industries to disrupt the global art ecosystem using data technology. Founded in 2012, the startup was created to help the cultural industry to be more connected and efficient. The name ‘Vastari’ comes from the democratising force that was Giorgio Vasari (1511 – 1574), with an added ‘T’ for technology. In 2014, the company launched its travelling exhibitions marketplace, and in 2018 they released industry reports about the market for exhibitions.

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s[edition] offers an innovative way to collect, share and trade art in digital formats. The startup believes art collecting can be instant, affordable, social and enjoyable. s[edition] aims to make more people collectors. Like limited editions in the physical world, the company sells work by the world’s leading contemporary artists in limited runs. Once those editions are sold out, you’re able to sell the work to other collectors through an open marketplace.

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Festicket provides fans of live music a unique, hassle-free, and money-saving service to discover and book ticket and packages for their next festival trips. Working closely with festival partners and suppliers, Festicket packages festival tickets, accommodation, travel, and add-ons to ensure that festival-goers’ next live music experience is as simple and pleasant as possible.

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