5 years ago

Hobnobbing with Pavel Baskakov from Tagsmart

So, what does Tagsmart do?

Tagsmart develops products and services for the artworld. At our core we are a security company. We have developed a triple lock solution to protect art against forgery and fakes. This service and products are called Tagsmart Certify.

The Certify platform allows artists to catalogue their work. After recording an artwork on our system, they are able to issue market leading secure Certificates of Authenticity for each work. Finally, an artist can tag their works with our pioneering DNA tagging technology.

This September we launched an extension to our existing platform to enable artists to connect their registered work with online retailers and fabricators. We call this extension Tagsmart Connect. Soon we will add other partners offering art services such as shipping, storage and insurance to Connect.

What’s behind the business idea?

Several years ago, our founders Steve Cooke and Mark Darbyshire started discussing the problem of fakes and forgeries in the art market and the need for a clearer provenance record system.

Mark Darbyshire has been in the art business for many years, running a industry leading framing company Darbyshire frames. He identified the need and together with Steve they started the company.

Over the years Tagsmart has attracted a number of key people from across the industry and notable figures from other sectors. Who not only advised us, but many also have become long term friends and investors. We have an extraordinary set of individuals on our board and as part of our wider advising community. If you are interested you can see who they are at: www.tagsmart.com/about-us

Was it hard becoming a business owner?

Not applicable to me just yet. Although, I am an investor in Tagsmart. I made the decision to invest as I truly believe the work we do here can make life easier for people in the art world. I love being part of something that not only is trying to change an industry for the better, but also helps individuals.

How did you recruit your employees?

At Tagsmart we have always prided ourselves on finding people who fit with our ethos and culture first and foremost. We have been lucky to meet quite a few of our team members through existing connections or at industry events.

We are very excited about our new Managing Director Charlotte Bearn, who starts today (Nov 1st). Tom Toumazis our Executive Chairman and Steve Cooke our co-founder, have done an incredibly extensive search to find the right candidate. We are very excited about Charlotte and all look forward to her taking lead of our team. 

Was there a breakthrough moment?

This year has been very important to us. Not has our community grown at a faster rate than ever before. We have also launched a brand new service called Tagsmart Connect that helps artists connect to service providers within the art market. Artists are able to sell and print their work all from one place. Soon they will also be able to value, ship, store and insure their work too!

How is the company doing?

This is a great time for us, we recently ran a crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs. Where we raised over £500,000 and are now proud to welcome 290+ new investors to our community. 

Do you have any regrets, if so how did you over come them?

I think every start up goes through their own ups and downs. We have for sure had our own issues. Ranging from chasing the wrong opportunity, to business distraction and wrong hires. But if you have a great core team, you manage to pull through all of these things and come out stronger. I guess its part and parcel of running a start up business, especially when you are creating products and services that are brand new and unique.

What makes you stand out from your competitors?

I think what makes us stand out is that we offer the full package. Artists are able to do so much on our platform. They can catalogue work, protect it from forgery using DNA tags, push it to retailers and soon will be able to do much more.

We also take a great deal of care to truly understand the art market and how various people work within it. Because of that we have been able to create processes that truly reflect the practices already established in the market. Instead of trying to force a disruption that has been successful in other areas on this truly unique world of art. 

What is your definition of a positive customer experience?

When a new customer signs up and tells us that they are joining us because their friend or an artist they respect has told them they are using Tagsmart and how beneficial it is to their practise. That to me is the ultimate way to meter positive customer experience. You wouldn’t want to recommend something to those close to you if you weren’t certain it was a wonderful thing. This is of course true for most companies.

You’re currently reaching out for investors, what do you plan to do when you have raised this funding?

I am proud to say we have now closed this round of investment, having risen over £500,000.

If you could help a business now with a single piece of advice, what would it be?

If you own or are part of a start up and things seem to be very difficult, you cannot seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel and you think about giving up, closing down, quiting etc. Your not alone, this is something experienced by so many people trying to get a business off the ground. You should step back, evaluate all the positive things that have happened for the company, check on what's going wrong and start to chip away at the issues at hand. You often want to fix everything in one go, but this is often unachievable with a start up resource and time. This can drive one crazy. But if you prioritise things that need to be looked after, ignore things that can be put on hold (like some new branding or even a project or two) you will get through it. It’s not easy work, but with the right attitude and a lot of patience you may just get there!

Finally, Pavel what is your favourite biscuit?!

One of my absolute favourites are the Bahlsen Milk Choco Leibniz Biscuits.