Interview with Sam Tenenbaum and William Lande, Founders of Bidgala
By: Karen Ghazal
Bidgala is an online platform that attempts to bridge the gap between art and business. It enables artists to sell and art enthusiasts to buy artworks. Founders William Lande and Sam Tenenbaum are current undergraduate students at the John Molson School of Business majoring in Finance and International Business respectively. Their journey in the creation of Bidgala started a year ago and they are working towards making the platform the primary hub for emerging artists internationally.
What is your mission statement?
Creating art is a true form of self-expression and liberty. Being able to stand out as an artist and to create a successful business allows artists to make a living off of their passion. However, this process can be far more challenging than one might think. That’s why Bidgala is focusing on bridging the gap between business and art. Bidgala’s mission is to democratize the art world by one connection, one story, and one sale at a time.
How and why did you guys create Bidgala?
Bidgala’s platform was built as an online community and marketplace for artists around the globe. Our initial idea was to simply help artists, specifically art students, sell their work. It was apparent after some research that many student artists struggled after graduation. The primary issue we identified was that these young emerging artists had not been taught how to market themselves and had very little knowledge about the business side of the art world. This is why we created Bidgala which is currently helping more than 1000 artists from around the world to sell their art and connect with the art world. With our platform, artists and potential buyers can discuss specific topics, educate themselves based on other people’s experiences and share their own artwork. We’re catering it to the new generation of artists and art collectors through this very interactive space.
How did you guys come up with the name?
The name Bidgala is a play on two words. “Bid” like bidding at an auction and “Gala” like the gallery where people display and show art but also gala like a gala or ball that shines a light on artists and their work.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?
Since we don’t know everything and don’t pretend to know everything, we make sure to seek professional help before we produce or organize a project. Taking time to reach out and interview hundreds of professionals in the industry was something that helped us develop and perfect our product tremendously. At first, we constantly needed to adjust and re-adjust our ideas to make sure we were tailoring them to the market demand and be able to create a viable product. We maxed out the numbers of LinkedIn messages sent per day only to get a couple of people answering. We had to learn to deal with issues every day and learn to be uncomfortable because that’s what grows you.
What is the goal of Bidgala?
The goal for Bidgala was to make the art world accessible to all artists and art lovers. For the sellers, all that is required before publishing your art is to create an account, insert a picture of your art with a brief description, list the asking price and post it! There are lots of educational resources to help the artists and guide them to optimize their experience on the platform. For buyers, you get to connect with artists before, during, and after your purchase through direct chat. You can also read through their profile and assign meaningful backgrounds and stories to each piece of art you select for your home.
Do you have any plans for brick-and-mortar stores in the future?
With the online art market emerging from 6 billion to 12.1 billion from 2019 to 2020, our main focus will remain on the online community to help emerging artists as best as we can by providing them with the best resources. However, we would love to have a physical gallery one day as well as pop-up events.
How has JMSB helped you?
The core classes helped tremendously in understanding a bit of everything we do and building the foundational knowledge in business. Our experience at JMSB has been amazing and I think we could apply something from almost every single class we took. Also, JMSB and Concordia as a whole are very focused on the community aspect and the hands-on approach with the willingness of teachers to help us. Many professors were there to help us in the planning phase and were able to help us refine our plans before we implemented them in the real world. JMSB gave us our starter kit for the business. An amazing professor who helped us a lot is Professor Jordan LeBel who connected us with people in the industry and spent countless hours advising and helping us.
What would you say that so far is your proudest achievement?
When we look at what we’ve built so far in the past year and see that we have over 30 people in our team, nearly 1000 artists who posted more than 3000 artworks on our platform, it makes us especially proud. When we see the impact we have had on the lives of the artists it makes us very excited for the future because we really see that this project can change people’s lives. Something very important to us is our amazing team members who have helped us make this project become a reality and continue to give it their all every day.
A special shoutout to Bidgala’s primary team members:
Web development team:
Sandeep Chowdary, Tiffany Bouchard, Shahd Yousef, Tianyi Liu, Ankit Jana
Mikaela Li, Matthew Matlin, Pragna Patel, Cara-Li Farell
Maria Escalona, Christina Marando, Jassim Turquoise, Anastasia Koutsogiannis, India-Lynn Upshaw-Ruffner