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Preparing students to be leaders in art business is at the heart of the graduate program at Sotheby’s Institute. 

This year, the establishment of the Enterprise Studio, an entrepreneurship center designed to cultivate talent and business ideas, has fostered a set of student business concepts that have been refined and presented at the end of the spring semester in The Gavel, the first start-up pitch competition hosted by Sotheby’s Institute. A select number of student and recent alumni projects were invited to participate, and the winner will receive start-up funding, first-year office space, and mentoring and networking assistance as they take their project from ideation during their graduate program to launch following their studies.

Explore these new business ideas percolating at Sotheby’s Institute this spring.


Alumna, MA Contemporary Art, London

The Pitch: Contemporary Art Consultancy to Heritage Organizations

Contemporary Art Consultancy to Heritage Organizations . The aim is to develop and deliver contemporary art exhibitions and commissions in a strategic way that is linked to business planning, commercial strategies, audience development, and fundraising.

Supporting Emma’s pitch is her current venture in building a Consultancy Practice to help cultural institutions formulate and execute on strategies that help them achieve ongoing sustainability while staying true to their missions. Emma brings a combination of deep hands-on professional experience along with strong quantitative skills and design thinking experience from her undergraduate years at Stanford University. 


Student, MA Art Business, New York

The Pitch: Sol Exhibitions

Sol Exhibitions will source and bring artwork from developing countries to exhibit and sell in prime locations in the USA, starting with Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico. 

From Ashley's perspective, the art of developing countries around the globe is often overlooked, discounted, or never even seen by many art collectors. She observed that local artists and artisans often rely upon tourists visiting their towns to sell just one piece of art and often do not have the resources, networks, or government support to scale the market for their work or reach out to new markets. The Sol Exhibitions will help these local artists increase their presence and build an international collector base.


Alumna, MA Art Business, London

The Pitch: Spongy Bags

Spongy Bags is a sustainable alternative to art packaging and offers a product that replaces all one time used wrapping materials that include bubble wrap, cling film, acid-free paper, tape, and rope, made from eco-friendly and naturally sourced materials that include canvas and natural latex.

Elsa is a painter and businesswoman setting out to solve a problem at the intersection of her interests. During the first COVID-19 lockdown, she was at home in Madagascar and reflecting on how to create a better solution to move her art around more easily and efficiently. SPONGY BAGS LLC, was created to address problems of efficiency, sustainability, and aesthetics in packaging artworks for artists and clients.


Student, MA Modern and Contemporary Asian Art, London

The Pitch: Adding value to artworks by placing them in the decorative market

Placing artwork in the decorative setting aims to solve the art market's stock problem and endow pieces and galleries with new value. Artwork will be matched with the retail scene so that customers can get an accurate idea of how the work will look in the real space and there will be a rich and varied selection for buyers, allowing them to pick the most suitable piece at once.

Xueli's long-term cooperation with various well-known fashion groups helped her understand how to open up sales channels for products and develop her pitch, supported by six years of commercial retail experience as Head of Retail in a Fortune 500 company. 


Student, MA Art Business, New York

The Pitch: SideArt

SideArt is a non-exclusive online gallery that supports the work of established and emerging artists located in coastal towns and cities within the United States. The company's mission is to help artists thrive creatively and financially. Rachel's priority is to help art lovers discover the most exceptional artists residing on the East and West coast.

Rachel noticed that coastal regions of all sizes worldwide are flooded with talented artists, but there is no global platform to showcase their work. Currently, an online gallery for artists located in coastal towns and cities does not exist; thus, her business aims to fill this gap.


Student, MA Art Business, New York

The Pitch: Educational and creative-based stimulating art program for seniors

This idea aims to create an educational and creative-based stimulating art program for seniors in need of assisted living. The activities in this program will have a unique and beneficial cognitive element to them for the caregiver to be able to assess the state of the participant's brain.

Natalia was inspired by her late father, who was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Degeneration and within four years could no longer speak due to verbal impairments and his significantly faded memory. These cognitive art lessons will give the participant a work of art to be proud of, a form of accomplishment with every stroke of paint, and in the end it will give them something to show off to their family and friends, not only creating a positive mental health moment but also a pre-assessment for the caregiver. 


Student, MA Art Business, London

The Pitch: Roots Worldwide

Roots Worldwide is a retail store selling merchandise from artists and artisans from around the world. It will begin as an online website and ideally have a physical location in London. The products are all handmade, ranging from art to jewelry to clothes.

Paul thinks that although there are many online platforms, such as Etsy, where artists can sell their wares online, there is still no platform where the selection of art merchandise is curated. Roots Worldwide identifies the gap, aiming to create more accessible opportunities. 


Alumna, MA Art Business, New York


Student, MA Fine and Decorative Art and Design, New York

The Pitch: NFT Boutique

NFT Boutique is a physical space where Fine Arts meet technology selling Fine Art NFTs (FANFT) through strategic partnerships with non-profit organizations and luxury brands to create awareness of the product, build communities around FANFTs, and provide their clients with high-end custom-made hardware for their NFTs.

The main inspiration for this project came from Maria's and Isabel's mutual desire to empower the fine art industry with rapidly evolving technologies and create a bridge between fine art collectors and the newly emerging digital medium. 


Alumna, MA Art Business, London

The Pitch: Juniors Art Club

Juniors Art Club is a program for children and young adults from all backgrounds to have access to great art, free of charge, starting in Dubai. The pillar of the program is to provide and install LCD screens, with superior visual quality, in prime locations in secondary schools to showcase art from around the world, with a focus on art from the Middle East.

The idea for the Juniors Art Club was born after Marjan spent seven consecutive years hosting an art camp for children within a private collection in Dubai. Marjan is an internationally-experienced art advisor with a wide international network of contacts, knowledge, and relevant academic background. 


Student, MA Art Business, London

The Pitch: The Video Restaurant

The Video Restaurant is a curated virtual and in-person cinema for video art. Attending a screening is akin to sampling a tasting menu presented by a top chef. When customers purchase a ticket, they get access to a video experience consisting of 4-7 artists’ moving images, offered in a predetermined sequence.

Yanzi noticed that when an art lover goes to an exhibition that shows video art, whether at a gallery or in a museum, it is very rare for this viewer to watch the video from beginning to finish. It is very rare that the artist’s full intent for experiencing the video can be realized. The format of The Video Restaurant forces the viewers to be fully present during the screening. 


Student, MA Art Business, New York

The Pitch: Art educational video game

The ed-tech startup will target the Gen Zen era and will create a gamified art educational platform and community. The original product would be an open-map, action-adventure video game, basically a campaign game that would follow a storyline of solving art crime mysteries.

Stella chose the video game type as a platform because she believes it is an accessible tool for different generations. Her main goal is to modernize and democratize art education by providing access to a larger audience and reaching the needs of the next generation.