Cohart, a social marketplace to discover, buy, sell and engage with art, raised over $4 million in funding.
Kendall Warson and Shyevin S’ng started the company in February 2021 after meeting at an immersive art event and bonding over a discussion about creating the future of new art.
No stranger to the intersection of art and technology, Warson was previously at Wonderspaces, where she was the first employee, and had built her own art curatorial company in Shanghai. Meanwhile, S’ng founded Vin Gallery in Vietnam two decades ago and has since started InPages Publishing House, which Warson told TechCrunch was responsible for launching the careers of hundreds of emerging artists.
Their vision with Cohart is to be a mobile-first marketplace for modern art and fans of “new art.” The platform offers tools and infrastructure so that visual artists can be discovered and sell their art. It is currently available on iOS.
“Only about 15% of artists are represented at galleries, which get away with taking 50% to 70% of sales because it’s so competitive to get representation in the first place,” Warson said in an email interview. “As a result, the majority of artists are stuck at the whim of sites and algorithms that weren’t built for their needs. These artists are small businesses that need powerful, easy-to-use tools, infrastructure and platforms to help them grow.”
Rather than taking the 70% commission on sales, Cohart takes 25% of every art sale and also covers shipping, insurance and authentication.
Cohart also aims to turn consumers into curators by identifying their taste and providing recommendations on art they might like from around the world, and providing direct connection with the artist.
The concept has caught on. After 18 months in beta, the company closed over $1.6 million in sales with pieces going for an average of $7,000 each. And for 80% of the buyers this was their first time buying art somewhere other than from friends, interior design sites or marketplaces like Wayfair or Ikea, Warson said.
Courtside Ventures and Slauson & Co. co-led Cohart’s investment and was joined by BDMI, Alumni Ventures, Wilson Sonsini, Paris Hilton’s 11:11 Media and a group of strategic angel investors, including Canva’s head of content Silvia Oviedo Lopez, The Council founder Margaret Coblentz, Montage Ventures’ Connie Wang, former Sotheby’s executive James Turnbull and internationally acclaimed artist Kurt Perschke. As part of the investment, Hilton is joining the company as a strategic advisor.
The funding enables Cohart to accelerate the launch of a subscription model for artists to track and grow their business with data insights, logistics support, sales tools, price advising, small business workshops and customer relationship management, all in one place.
In addition, the company will invest in product and technology development, operations and marketing. In the next year, Cohart will launch its full product experience across Android and web that will include an AI-enabled personalized experience, access to livestream studio visits to directly interact with artists and the ability to resell items with royalties for the artist.
“We’re also creating fun and exciting new ways for users to engage enthusiastically with the Cohart brand,” Warson said. “We’ll be rolling out in-person and virtual events for our users and strategic partners that will help supercharge the way we go to market. And we’ll continue to be nimble, listening for what our community wants more of, and building tools that support our vision for a ‘new art world.’”