Launched by former Christie's COO Roxanna Zarnegar and serial entrepreneur Denis Belkevich, the accelerator’s mission is to bridge the gap between art and technology by supporting early-stage startups. Fuelarts raised $500 thousand from philanthropic funders in September.
According to Fuelarts founder and CEO Denis Belkevich, during the pandemic top auction houses and dealers turned their attention to the burgeoning tech sector. “One prime example happened recently, when Sotheby’s invested $20 million in Mojito to create a metaverse destination for NFTs,” he added. “With art market players getting involved too, we’re seeing a lot of excitement around Art+Tech from institutional investors and the VC world.”
Katya Kohen, managing partner at Amadeo Global VC fund and Fuelarts investment partner, believes the Art+Tech market has the potential to bring a substantial return on those investments. “Historically, traditional art would only generate 3-5% IIR (internal rate of return). But for Art+Tech startups like the ones Fuelarts presented today, we’re looking at a return above 25%,” said Kohen.
By late next year, the Fuelarts accelerator intends to switch gears and rebrand as a company-builder VC, which would help startups adapt their business models to shifting market demands. “I think starting about seven years ago, and up until now, Art+Tech has taken a wider lens and zoomed out from building marketplaces, instead looking at the industry from new angles,” said Roxanna Zarnegar, Fuelarts co-founder and board member. She believes subsidiary businesses, such as smart contracts, offer the biggest opportunities for Art+Tech investors and entrepreneurs alike.
As a part of its mission, in January next year Fuelarts will be issuing a report focusing on challenges and opportunities in the Art+Tech market. The document will include an analysis of already existing startups, current funding opportunities, forecasts for the coming year, and interviews with industry leaders. Dates for the next batch of Fuelarts applications will be announced later this year.