The New York-based Art+Tech accelerator Fuelarts returns after raising $500K from philanthropic funders. Launched in late 2019 by former Christie’s COO Roxanna Zarnegar and serial entrepreneur Denis Belkevich, Fuelarts was forced to scale back its operations due to the pandemic.
The accelerator’s first online batch is set to graduate this fall. Fuelarts startups will showcase their projects at a demo day, to be held on October 28th. With most participating businesses owned and operated by women, Fuelarts partnered with FMoney, a financial initiative for women, to co-organize the event. Demo day registration is now open.
Thanks to online auctioneering and the NFT digital collectables boom, the pandemic ushered in an era of exponential growth for the Art+Tech market. According to Fuelarts’ research, based on Crunchbase data, investors poured $380 million into art-focused tech startups during the 2020-21 fiscal year. In a single year, the industry funding amounted to nearly 60% of its total investment over the last two decades ($640 million).
“The art world has finally embraced the power of technology,” said Denis Belkevich, founder and CEO of the accelerator. “Until very recently, traditional collectors have been committed to practices that ‘strangled’ the development of new solutions. Now the market is ready, but Art+Tech startups are struggling to find places where they can flourish. In most museum-run programs they end up stifling their business ideas, while traditional accelerators rarely understand art and end up trying to ‘reinvent the Uber.’ Fuelarts provides a unique program with a dual focus on Art+Tech.”
The first Fuelarts batch includes V-Art, a platform designed to exhibit, sell, and collect digital art, which recently raised $150K. In September, the company launched a new NFT marketplace. Other demo day participants include a multifunctional NFT art inventory app called Artherium; Sarturn, a platform that gamifies art investment, connecting Gen Z with galleries and artists; and Fresh or Trash, a platform that helps exchange artworks for goods and services.
“Fuelarts was developed to provide community and purpose for talented art tech entrepreneurs,” said Roxanna Zarnegar, Fuelarts’ co-founder and board member. “Over the last 10 years, we’ve observed the rise of Art+Tech startups. The one thing missing has been a sense of community. Fuelarts is aiming to make the art world a better place to create and share.”
Over the next two years, Fuelarts plans to invest the funds raised in solutions focusing on provenance, transactions, gamification, and more. The accelerator also intends to launch an Art+Tech VC fund in the next a few years.
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