Zuzanna Stanska, one of the British Council's Young Creative Entrepreneurs, created DailyArt, a mobile app that sends users a piece of art every day. The app has been downloaded by 100,000 people.
A piece of art to your mobile device every day
DailyArt is a very simple app -- everyday, it sends subscribers one piece of fine art, plus a short story about the artwork. This information is not a raw or boring description of the artwork, but something that can be more easily remembered -- such as the story of van Gogh's relationship with his brother, or the tragic death of Modigliani's lover. The 100,000 who have downloaded the app care about the quality of the content it publishes, and they spread the word about it offline and online.
My reason to create the app was very simple. I'm an art historian by education, and I was extremely lucky to get proper classes in my high school. But most people in Poland never got an opportunity to develop their interest in art history. I wanted to show them that art makes people's lives better and happier. And that art is not difficult. This kind of everyday shot of 'art espresso' wakes people up a bit, and that was my goal when publishing the app.
Older people are downloading the app
I had originally intended the app to be for teenagers, but the stats show something completely different. Half of my audience is 25-54 years old. But surprisingly, a quarter of users are over 55. This is great news, showing that an older audience also uses smartphones and apps. It also forced me to make the font in the app larger! 51 per cent of my users are from the United States, and 75 percent of users are female.
Who's part of DailyArt and how it's funded
The first version of the app was published in September 2012. I developed it with the last money I had, when my company Moiseum -- which creates mobile apps for museums and cultural institutions, to bring them closer to their audiences -- was in a pretty bad condition. No-one was interested in my offer back then, and I thought that I needed to do something, because otherwise I'd go mad. Right now, Moiseum is doing very well, as it seems that museums in Poland have opened themselves to innovation and new tools. But we are still working on DailyArt. Five people are involved in it now: me, two iOS and Android developers, a mobile designer, and one person responsible for social media channels. The app is free and there is a paid version too -- it gives me some income, not very large but sufficient. For sure, it could do better, so we are designing an update that will offer more content for extra money. But I want the core of the app (serving one piece of art a day, plus a story) to remain free. I don't have any extra funding for it, so I'm financing it from my work at Moiseum.
Designing the first version of the app was a pretty fast process, as it is very simple. I must confess that the first version (which gained a lot of publicity) was developed in a couple of days. But after a couple of months, I couldn't stand the way it looked, and redesigned it completely, which took much more time as we really focused on user needs and expectations.
Why occupying a place between tech and art history is an advantage
I guess I need to explain my background. As I mentioned, I'm an art historian, but I used to work for a venture capital company in Warsaw that funded early-stage start-ups. Thanks to that experience, I was really able to see what 'real entrepreneurship' (not hanging around in start-up parties and events, but working hard to build a product that sells itself) was. I also met people who I'm working with now, after two years of establishing Moiseum -- great designers and developers. You may have heard that Poland is famous for its tech developers, and that is true, they are very talented. Anyway, at the beginning it was difficult to explain to anyone why I was leaving my job working with start-ups to do some museum work. I was also stubborn or stupid enough not to think much about starving, when I had a very poor year with Moiseum. I'm still in between two worlds -- culture and technology -- and I must admit, I really enjoy this kind of 'not clarified' situation. It seems that for my current clients -- Polish museums -- my background in venture capitalism and technology is of real value, missing in many institutions. Thanks to their openness, I can do what I always wanted to do, and deliver happiness to people visiting museums (which I do with my tech consulting company Moiseum), or remotely, through using their art collections (which I do through the DailyArt app).
You can download DailyArt for iPhone, iPad and Android from the DailyArt website. It is available for iPhones and Android for free and there is also an extended version with additional features for iPhones and iPads costing £2.99.
Zuzanna is in London with other Young Creative Entrepreneurs from around the world on an inspiration and networking trip to meet UK business leaders this week.