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First Democracy VC

See.Me

Global art platform that promotes and sells work for artists

240%

Time to Invest

Security Offered

Convertible Note

Minimum Investment: $100

  • Purchased global art community, SeeMe, in October 2017

  • Transformed SeeMe platform to paid membership model in February 2018

  • More than 1,600 artists have become SeeMe members since February 2018

  • Company is hosting art competitions in Times Square NYC, Art Basel Miami and other high-profile locations across the U.S. during 2018 and 2019

Perks

You are investing in Crowd Notes in this offering. Perks are meant to be a thank you from the company for investing. The perks below are NOT inclusive of lower dollar amount perks unless specifically stated otherwise.

For Artists:

$250+: SeeMe Core Member - 2-year membership, plus t-shirt and Instagram post with link to artist’s SeeMe profile

$750+: SeeMe Elite Member - 5-year membership, plus t-shirt, Instagram and Facebook posts, and invitation to be on the Artist Advisory Council

For Enthusiasts:

$100+: Supporter Level - 10% discount for one year on art/products, plus event invites (first come, first serve)

$250+: Enthusiast Level - 10% discount (perpetual) on art/products, plus event invites (first come, first serve), and ability to sponsor an artist for any SeeMe competition

$750+: Collector Level - 15% discount on art, plus sneak peaks for new artists and new art availability, an invite to SeeMe’s Art Basel Miami Party or Art Takes Times Square, and ability to sponsor two artists for a year

$5,000+: Patron's Circle - All the above, plus tickets for Scope dinner with SeeMe team in Miami (at Art Week Miami & tickets for Art Takes Times Square yearly), ability to fund 10 artist membership scholarships for one year, and join the See.Me jury panel for one competition per year, and all Artist perks.

Terms

Security Type: Crowd Note

Round Size: Min: $25,000 Max: $1,070,000

Valuation Cap: $4 million 

Discount: 20%

Conversion Provisions: In connection with equity financing of at least $1,000,000, the Company has the option to convert the Crowd Note into shares of non-voting preferred stock (Conversion Shares) at a price based on the lower of (A) a 20% discount to the price paid per share for Preferred Stock by investors in the Qualified Equity Financing or (B) the price paid per share paid on a $4 million valuation cap. Please refer to the Crowd Note for a complete description of the terms of the Crowd Note, including the conversion provisions.

Overview

Opportunity

Despite consumer demand in the $63.7 billion art industry, many of the millions of artists around the world struggle to earn a living. Legacy distribution channels—such as galleries and frame stores—can be highly inefficient and have a declining market share. In contrast, technology has transformed the way consumers discover and consume media over the past 20 years, namely through social media, streaming capability, and other innovations. Modern companies have started using digital distribution to disrupt the traditional business model and redirect the focus towards benefiting artists and satisfying consumers.i  

Founded in 2015, Stepstone Art Resources (STAR) is pursuing a path of digital distribution for the visual arts by building SeeMe into a platform that supports the artistic community and creates revenue generation possibilities. The platform is designed to enable artists and consumers to easily interact with each other and create value through exposure and the creation of art products. In 2017, the company acquired two subsidiaries—SeeMe and Boomboomprints.com (BBP). STAR relaunched SeeMe in 2018 and expects to relaunch BBP in late 2018. Similar to Etsy, the company aims to connect artists with enthusiasts and consumers through an ecommerce platform that focuses on fostering relationships over commercialism. STAR plans to explore revenue opportunities created by nurturing relationships between artists, fans, creatives, and consumers—such as memberships and ticketing—that would increase its economic value and contribute to a more robust ecosystem.

Product

SeeMe

SeeMe is a global platform that helps artists gain recognition, connect with enthusiasts and collectors, and earn income. It accomplishes this by hosting art shows and competitions, printing catalogues, and displaying art on its site. The company caters to artists, photographers, musicians, designers, and creative enthusiasts. SeeMe provides a way for art enthusiasts and corporations to discover emerging artists and license unique art.

Artists must apply and submit a portfolio to the SeeMe team in order to be considered for membership on the platform. Each membership includes:

  • Inclusion in at least one exhibition within the company’s global program
  • Inclusion in at least one quarterly printed catalogue
  • Eligibility to participate in at least seven juried global photography and art competitions
  • Consideration for inclusion in the digital Gallery where SeeMe will sell artists’ products
  • Opportunity for promotion to hundreds of thousands of viewers on the website, social channels, and company newsletter
  • Access to SeeMe’s membership team who work directly with artists on all the company’s promotional resources

SeeMe also hosts several competitions and open calls throughout the year. The company has already hosted five exhibitions in 2018 and plans on hosting several more.

2018 Competitions:

  • Armory Week (NYC) – March 9th
  • Art Takes Times Square (NYC) – June 7th
  • Aspen Food & Wine (Aspen, CO) – June 14th
  • Tribeca Art Night/Affordable Art Fair Week (NYC) – September 26th
  • Art Basel Miami (Miami) – December

Each competition has its own jury (of art industry professionals and influencers) and awards that typically include, exhibitions, cash grants, partnership with sponsors, and more.  One of the largest competitions SeeMe hosts is Art Takes Times Square. In 2018, the company took over the 22nd floor of Four Times Square and featured 50 select artists alongside more than 150 installations and performances.

SeeMe is planning on launching its own digital gallery in Q4 2018. The company’s approach is to offer a highly curated selection of the best artists from its competitions.  These pieces are then sold on the website and thru email marketing to our list of art enthusiasts and collectors.  The company also operates a “pop-up” gallery during each of its exhibitions selling art in person and taking orders that are fulfilled direct to consumer.

Boomboomprints.com

Stepstone Art Resources is planning on relaunching Boomboomprints.com at the end of 2018. BBP is a product platform where artists can upload artwork and select products that their work can appear on—such as prints, canvas, and other textiles. Consumers can then select and purchase unique items featuring the artist’s work. To date, BBP has focused on original children’s room décor and related baby gifts. Stepstone Art Resources plans on expanding its focus to include other customer segments.

Use of Proceeds and Product Roadmap

SeeMe intends to use the proceeds from this raise to increase its marketing budget in order to drive artist memberships and help artists gain exposure. If the minimum amount of $25,000 is raised, SeeMe plans to allocate most of the proceeds to marketing, accrued expenses, repayment of debt, and general working capital. The company has accrued expenses and debt from the construction of its gallery. If the maximum amount of $1.07 million is raised, the company plans to allocate almost 20% for general working capital, 18.7% for marketing, and 18.7% for building artist residences. The company also plans on spending 14% on future wages to hire key employees and drive growth. ­The company has discretion to alter the use of proceeds mentioned based upon prevailing market conditions, board approval, and future opportunities (ex. the company may pursue certain strategic acquisitions or develop additional technology that benefits its community). 

Business Model

SeeMe generates revenue from artist membership fees, the sale of art products to enthusiasts and collectors, and licensing of images to corporations and advertisers. SeeMe charges artists a membership fee of $119 per year or $39 per quarter. During each competition, the company identifies and licenses the best artwork as determined by the jury. The limited-edition products based on these images are typically priced between $50 to $5,000.

User Traction

Since relaunching in January 2018, SeeMe has added more than 1,600 active artist members. In December 2017, it launched a free activation at Art Basel Miami where 2,400 artists submitted work. The company officially launched its paid membership model in February 2018. It had 270 members sign up in both February and March, with an addition 150 signups in April and 230 in May. In November, the company had its best month in terms of user growth, adding 519 artists to its paid platform. Since March 2018, SeeMe has received 12,620 applications to join its artist community.

Historical Financials

Stepstone Art Resources began collecting revenue from SeeMe in January 2018. The company did not have any revenue in 2016 and 2017 because it relaunched SeeMe during early 2018 and has not yet relaunched Boomboomprints.com. Revenue grew from $44 in January 2018 to $5,082 in June 2018. All revenue was generated from artist membership fees. Stepstone Art Resources will begin collecting revenue from Boomboomprints.com when the site is relaunched in Q4 2018.

Expenses have grown in 2018 as Stepstone increased spending on contractors to build the digital gallery that is projected to open in October 2018. Total expenses in the first half of 2018 were $262,089, up from $101,774 in all of 2017. Total expenses in 2016 were $135,118, of which, $80,000 was spent on management fees. In 2018, payments for contractors was the largest expense—totaling $115,653—followed by event expenses which totaled $38,179. The company plans on increasing its marketing spend in 2018 and 2019.

Year to date through June 2018, Stepstone Art Resources has incurred a $257,000 net loss. The net loss is mostly due to the company’s increased spending on hosting events and opening a digital gallery in order to drive artist acquisition.  STAR had a net loss of $146,113 and $116,554 in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Industry

In 2017, sales in the global art market reached $63.7 billion, up 12% over 2016. The U.S. was the largest market, accounting for 42% of sales ($26.6 billion), a 16% increase over 2016. China and the UK were the second and third largest markets, respectively, accounting for a combined 41% of the global market.ii

Dealers reported making 46% of their sales at art fairs in 2017, up 5% over 2016. Sales at fairs were estimated to reach roughly $15.5 billion in 2017, up 17% over 2016. Online sales represented 8% of total sales, reaching a new high of $5.4 billion in 2017. The online art market has increased by 72% over the past five years. Dealers stated that online sales have been a key method for accessing new buyers, claiming that 45% of their online buyers were new to their business in 2017.iii

Competitors

Fulcrum Gallery: Founded in 2002, Fulcrum gallery is an online marketplace for art and art-related services. Fulcrum offers a wide selection of over 200,000 works of art, encompassing photography, modern art, classical art, traditional art, contemporary art, and many others. The company also offers value added services, including custom framing and canvas transfers.iv

ArtSlant: Founded in 2007, ArtSlant is a networking and content platform that aims to provide a social perspective on art. It offers artist subscriptions that include a variety of programs and resources for artists to select. Artists can choose from a free subscription, standard subscription ($55/year), or premium subscription ($165/year). The free subscription gives artists a public profile on ArtSlant with up to 60 images, a full slideshow, an exhibition history, and a personal blog. The premium subscription offers a standalone website that is managed by ArtSlant with its personal domain name.v The company claims to have more than 200,000 profiles of art professionals.vi

Art.com Inc.: Art.com is an online specialty retailer of wall art and complementary décor. The company has over 2 million images and claims to have served more than 19 million customers in 150 countries. Art.com has a variety of customers, including individuals, national retail partners, museums, hotels, interior designers, and more. The company offers limited-edition prints, hand-painted originals, home accessories, framing, and specialty brands. Art.com Inc. runs two sites in the U.S.—Art.com and AllPosters.com—and has 25 localized sites in Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, Mexico, and South America.vii

Fine Art America: Founded in 2006, Fine Art America is an art marketplace and print-on-demand technology company. Artists and photographers are able to upload their images to the company’s site, set prices, and sell products to a global audience of online, mobile, and real-world buyers. Fine Art America handles all orders on behalf of artists, including printing, framing, matting, packaging, shipping, and collecting payments. The company claims to have more than 100,000 living artists and photographers selling more than ten million images on their site.viii

Abstract Art Gallery: Abstract Art Gallery offers a global curated marketplace for artists to exhibit and sell their work. In November 2017, the company was purchased by artist Daniel Rustad and is now a subsidiary of Rustad Group Innovations.ix Artists can register for the site and—if they are accepted—Abstract Art Gallery will sell their work. The company takes a 20% commission on all art sold through its site.x

Team

Founders

Brendan Burns

Founder & CEO

Prior to founding Stepstone Art Resources, Brendan served as the CEO of 1000|Museums. 1000|Museums—a venture-backed ecommerce and art licensing company—built a global network of fine art museums, such as the Guggenheim (NYC), the Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam), the MFA Houston, and many others. Early in his career, Brendan was a member of AdOne’s founding team and served as CEO. He has an MBA from Columbia University and earned his BS from Fordham University. Since 2004, Brendan has been an adjunct professor at the Lang Center for Entrepreneurship in Columbia’s Graduate Business School and serves on the Advisory board of the Lang Fund.

Alex Nero

Co-founder and Creative Director

Alex is an American artist who utilizes experimental techniques with chemistry and the physical dynamics of paint within vessels of water. He has led creative projects with startups for over 10 years and has a multi-disciplinary background in full stack development in eCommerce environments. Alex leads the technology and creative direction at Stepstone Art Resources.

Part-Time Team

Serena Reynolds

Serena leads the social media and curatorial efforts at See.Me. Serena has also played a key role in leading artist community engagement at for almost four years. Serena has a demonstrated history in social media management, is a professional videographer, and a freelance film veteran. Serena graduated from the Parson’s School of Design with a focus on photography.

Grace Shanon

Grace leads the gallery and online shop at See.Me. Grace has a strong and unusual background in the art, ecommerce, and financial worlds. On the financial front she worked at both Goldman Sachs and the financial startup, Chatham Energy (sold to ICE). Subsequently, Grace was the founder and CEO of Bee Organic and also the founder of Columbia Startup Lab. She is a member of the National Arts Club in Gramercy Park and on the associate board of Madison Square Park Conservancy and its Arts Committee. Grace graduated from Columbia Business School.

Jon Hale

Jon is an experienced financial analyst and CFA charterholder who supports the finance and operations efforts at See.Me. He has worked with several early-stage companies and traditional financial institutions including Mission Wealth and Avenir Corporation. Jon is currently completing a Master’s in Engineering and Robotics at Northeastern University.

Advisors

Jeremy Miller

Jeremy is the CEO & Founder of FSAStore.com, an ecommerce operator of healthcare products. FSAStore was a 2017 Crain’s NY Best Places to Work in NYC recipientxi and Jeremy was named 2018 EY Entrepreneur of the Year. Jeremy graduated from Columbia Business School and UC Berkeley.xii

Dave Lerner

Dave is the Director of Entrepreneurship at Columbia University. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Columbia Business School where he teaches the Greenhouse Accelerator Program and the Launch Your Startup class. Prior to working at Columbia University, he founded and successfully exited Startup Genome and LLS, Inc. His personal blog explores the worlds of university entrepreneurship, angel/venture investing, and startups.

Rich Rosa

Rich is the managing partner of Pointshot Advisory. Pointshot Advisory provides consulting services to portfolio companies, management teams, venture investors, and corporate boards specializing in emerging companies. Prior to Pointshot, Rich held several positions including COO of Rockstar Networks, Partner at Sterling Select, and co-founder and CTO of Debt Resolve Inc.

Ujjwal Dhoot

Ujjwal is currently the Chief Marketing Officer at FSAStore.com. He previously held senior marketing positions at Charming Charlie, PetCare/RX, and 20x200.com. Ujjwal has a demonstrated history in metric driven online marketing, analytics development, and online customer experience.  

Discussion

Endnotes

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