Hobnobbing with Francesco from Feral Horses

posted by 5 years ago in Hobnobbing
Hobnobbing with Francesco from Feral Horses

So, what does Feral Horses do?

Well, simply said, we make investing in art as easy as investing in startups or other cool alternative assets. We have built a stock exchange but for art. We are a marketplace so on one hand, artists can use our platform to sort of IPO their artworks and sell them in shares to their network and on the other hand retail investors can become art investors by buying and trading shares of artworks. Last but not least, we take care of the physical artworks and offer them for rental them out in order to take them out of the storage! We kill three birds with one stone because the artworks gain exposure, we generate dividends for the co-owners and we save on storage costs!

What’s behind the business idea?

Behind the business idea is the will to make art accessible on several levels and to promote the role of contemporary artists as critical in our society. First and foremost, we believe that art should be more accessible and inclusive.
We want to push forward the idea of a transparent art market in order to increase trust and help close the gap between people and contemporary art. By gathering data and making them accessible, we can help answer questions such as “why is this artwork worth this price?”. By doing so, we can help people understand art better and, therefore, ease their confusion so that they can focus on what the artist is trying to communicate.

To sum it up, I’d say that what led us to create Feral Horses is the will to let art lovers express their passion for art differently and get to invest in something they are interested in and share values with.

Was it hard becoming a business owner?

It is incredibly hard of course but I was “lucky” enough to throw myself into the Feral Horses project when I was 19 years old so I didn’t overthink it too much at the time. I was also part of a team of co-founders (Christian De Martin CFO & Lise Arlot CMO) so we went through the “entrepreneur journey” together and pushed each other a lot.

In general, when I discover something I’m curious about, I tend to get a little “obsessed” in a positive way for a few days/weeks/months and love to consume a lot of content like podcasts, academic articles or online courses so that really helps me because it doesn’t feel like “work” anymore.

 How did you recruit your employees?

The HR policy at Feral Horses is pretty straightforward “we never hire anyone we wouldn’t be proud to work for!”. It’s cliché but it’s true because the main strength of a young startup is its human capital and its ability to deliver to turn the big ideas into reality.
Like many other young startups we don’t have an HR department. We mainly recruit via Angel.co, we have received hundreds of applications over the past months and got incredibly talented people on board. I really recommend it!

Was there a breakthrough moment?

I strongly believe that the “breakthrough moment” is a huge startup myth. I think startups are 1% big ideas and 99% implementation and continuous improvement and that’s definitely our case! We have refined our business idea a billion times. It’s really unlikely to have a grand plan and come up straight away with the right model. Also, what I don’t particularly like about the breakthrough moment concept is that it often promotes the CEO as a lone visionary whereas Feral Horses is a team story!

How is the company doing?

Pretty well! Who wouldn’t say that though ahah? More seriously, we are in a very interesting transition phase. We are about to celebrate our first “birthday” at the end of the month, the team is growing, we are closing new exciting partnerships and we are in the middle of our crowdfunding campaign. It’s incredibly exciting to bring new talents on board and see them develop with us and take ownership of the company.

Do you have any regrets, If so how did you overcome them?

I don’t think we have any regrets yet. We have definitely made a billion mistakes but we never missed a big opportunity or anything like that.

What makes you stand out from your competitors?

The art investments market has a very fast-changing competitive landscape so it’s a very exciting place to be operating in! Currently, most players focus on the high and ultra high end of the market whereas our platform is very affordable. In fact, you can start investing with as little as a fiver which is dramatically cheaper than an art fund minimum ticket (around $150k)!

But, the mass art investment market is attracting several new players who should join later this year. What will differentiate us is probably the fact that our model is designed to generate dividends. The artworks that are co-owned by our users can be rented to businesses. When this happens, we split the rental fees proportionally among the co-owners.

What is your definition of a positive customer experience?

A positive customer experience is a user who gets what we do in 30sec even though he or she has never been on a trading platform or even though he or she is not an art expert. An extra positive customer experience is a user who visits the website, looks for an email address and drops us a line at info@feralhorses.co.uk to tell us they love the product. Each time it happens, it makes my heart skips a beat!

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

Yes, we are about to reach our target on Seedrs ! We will focus on consolidating our market position by developing long-term art rental contracts and art sourcing agreements while continuously improving our product.

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

The most important thing is to be able to attract and retain talents. You need to be able to build a real dream team.

Finally, Francesco what is your favourite biscuit?!

My favourite biscuits are “Ringo”. It’s sort of an Italian Oreo and it was my childhood breakfast favourite (Italians eat sweet breakfasts, I know it can be shocking). They are pretty difficult to find in the UK so I try to put some in my suitcase each time I have the chance to spend a few days in Italy.