The first blockchain marketplace for artists and art collectors, which combines provenance tracking, increased market liquidity, and direct peer-to-peer transactions, was launched last month by Alpha’a co-founders, Manuela Seve, CEO, and Renata Thorne, CCO. The result is Alphaa.ioa more efficient, secure, and trustworthy ecosystem for buying and selling art.
This latest innovation from the South American millennial power duo builds on the company’s vision to create a more inclusive digital art economy that supports artists and collectors alike. With over 10 years of experience in B2B art sales and distribution and the launch of a new marketplace, the team at Alphaa.io is once again leading the charge in driving the adoption of blockchain technology by the art world.
Millennial spokes to Manuela and Renata after their official launch last month in Venice Beach, California to learn more about their new SaaS platform and how Alphaa.io is changing the game for artists and art collectors.
What are the biggest challenges facing both visual artists and art collectors in 2022?
Artists and collectors have a hard time connecting. Collecting art can be a process that seems complicated (or even intimidating) for a lot of people. Collectors don’t know where to find art that they like and many times can’t afford it when they do, and it is often difficult to evaluate what is properly priced in this ecosystem. On the other hand, artists struggle to find platforms where they can sell their works.
One of the most important things to take into consideration when buying an artwork is having a trustworthy track record of transactional history. It can prevent collectors from buying forgeries.
Describe your working relationship. How did you meet and who’s idea was it to develop the Alpha’a platform?
When Manuela was launching the MVP for Alpha’a (former Geracao Alpha) one of our many mutual friends made an introduction as we were both looking to launch businesses in the same sector. It was very clear from the beginning that we shared a lot of the same ideas in the way we understood the art market at the time, especially when thinking about what could be done with the simple application of technologies in a very analogue and opaque way.
Manuela has been more involved in the finance and technology part of the business and when blockchain technology first appeared she quickly started thinking about ways of integrating it into the business model as a tool for certification. We started building out the infrastructure of what is now Alphaa.io in 2017 based on insights she had around dynamic pricing formulas for limited editions and the concept of digital scarcity.
Explain the original mission behind Alpha’a and how it led to the development of Alphaa.io.
There is an economic term called: generating alpha. The alpha in the regression line is none less than the outlier, it generates a superior level of return with the same risk profile and that is exactly what we are bringing to the art world. A superior return for the industry by evolving processes and bringing more transparency, allowing artists to keep doing what they do best CREATE.
Alpha’a’s mission was to democratize the art market and to create more opportunities and transparency for the different players involved. We believe this remains a core idea in our new venture, Alphaa.io, as our goal is to use technology to provide a more equitable future for artists, allowing them to be compensated for future transactions through a royalty structure that changes the way the art world does business.
What are NFTs and how are they affecting the art world?
NFTs mean non fungible tokens, non fungible means unique. What this actually means is that these unique tokens can be attached to any physical asset and/or digital and can be an essential part in the asset value chain since it contains all the relevant information for it to be transacted, such as: unique characteristics and pricing data. Having these digital ledgers transform our interactions can reduce transaction times from months to minutes by easily scanning a QR code and looking up the asset’s entire lifecycle.
How does Alphaa.io use NFTs to connect the visual artist with the art collector?
Alpha’a has been using blockchain as a tool for internal digital certification since 2017, we have now launched a standalone platform: Alpha.io where artists and institutions can use our system to issue digital certificates of authenticity featuring resale royalties so that creatives get paid FOREVER in secondary market transactions. This platform also allows for inventory management, and for collectors to have real time market pricing associated with their art portfolio.
Describe the benefits that artists receive by uploading their artwork to the Alphaa.io platform and the costs will they incur.
Alpha’a operates as a SaaS platform, meaning that artists can select plans starting at 0 dollars a month which gives them one free token, $10 a month for 10 tokens. Comparable to what we are used to paying for streaming services. There are many benefits but resale royalties on future transactions and having full control over their body of work top the list regardless if a work has been sold.
How is the overall art collecting experience improved by purchasing and trading art on Alphaa.io?
Firstly price transparency creates a fairer trading environment. Second having full provenance information attached to our digital certificates of authenticity means that the possibility of transacting counterfeit work diminishes exponentially.
What case studies can you offer that support your proof of concept for using blockchain technology to authenticate and trade artwork?
We handpicked a group of artists, galleries and design products for the launch event of Alphaa.io. The response was overwhelmingly positive, most of the participants of this group had little to no experience in the blockchain sector and once we onboarded them onto the Alphaa.io platform they immediately found applications beyond our pilot group. We quickly onboarded entire shows and collections and landed two international partnerships with groups looking to take the Alphaa.io tech to Europe and Asia.
One of the biggest differentiating factors for the gallery industry and other art institutions is including not only a resale royalty for the artist but for them. This is a paradigm shift, so many of these small and mid sized galleries have created careers for their artists just to see them move on to bigger platforms. Now galleries will also reap the benefits of the artist’s early work. Alpha’a has been successfully suggesting an industry resale royalty of 2% for galleries and 5% for artists. And our early calculations show a return over investment for these two profiles over 200%, based on this royalty.
As NFTs become popular, how do you see the industry evolving?
Hopefully there will be a lot more information available in order to break the paradigm that NFTs are not art. Digital tokens can be used for multiple purposes and right now they are associated with digital images that are traded in crypto. We were just rejected from a major art fair listing since they do not wish to associate themselves with NFT platforms. This is not only small minded but uninformed. The way we use NFTs is building value in the fine art industry and creating more opportunities for creatives across the board. In this case ignorance is NOT bliss, but rather an invitation to get stuck in the past in an outdated model that will soon no longer exist.
Alpha’a has been servicing a B2B market for 8 years, what challenges do you anticipate by opening Alphaa.io to the public?
Taking alphaa.io to the public requires a completely different approach. This is our first time using a B2C model. But we’re confident in our CMO Pedro Cesario’s ability to take us to the next level due to his experience in advertising and the music industry.
What are your short and long-term goals for the Alphaa.io platform? What is your strategy to scale?
Our objective is to make alphaa certification a verb. “Has this been alpha’d?” should become a common question a collector will ask before considering an artwork purchase. Our strategy is similar to spotify’s launch strategy, attaching ourselves to clusters of AAA art and creating work agreements that make sense for the institutions and the artists. We’re not afraid to build a product to the specifications required by our clients, and we’re learning with them every step of the way. We’re also thinking of hybrid pairings between: art, music and media. This way empowering the entire creative industry.
To learn more about Alpha’a and the new Alphaa.io art sales platform, visit their website or Instagram account.