A computer science major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison working towards a degree in computer science, QuHarrison Terry recently made the tough decision to quit school to pursue his dream. He’s finding out real quick that being a full-time entrepreneur has been an exhilarating – yet intimidating – life decision.
“I can’t lie to you and say it’s not scary. It’s definitely scary,” Terry tells Madison365. “But there’s also a point in time where you look back and say, ‘God’s blessed us because we’ve made it this far!’ We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we’ve got a great support system, great mentors, great work ethic. We have a lot going for us, too. The momentum is good. We just have to stay focused.”
Just 20 years old, Terry and Ryan Cowdrey are the founders of the recently launched 23VIVI, an online marketplace for rare and limited edition fine art and digital fine art by professional artists. They are tackling the unique problem of protecting the authenticity of original digital artwork for buyers and sellers.
“There are a ton of artists out there who create artwork on canvas or on paper or with watercolor or charcoal. They create it in the physical form and there is something that is tangible when it’s all said and done,” says Terry, who goes by “Q”. “But there’s a whole community of artists – hundreds of thousands of artists – that create natively on digital. Their artwork starts on Adobe Photoshop. But there’s nothing tangible – you have a file.”
Oftentimes, if you don’t take the file and convert it to something that is tangible – i.e., putting it on a T-shirt or a coffee cup — you can’t really sell or make money from your creations.
“The funny thing about that is that you have to destroy the medium that you originally created the artwork on,” Terry says. “What 23VIVI does is we allow limited edition artwork to be sold and re-sold on the marketplace.”
The 23VIVI online marketplace offers limited edition runs consisting of 23 digital and traditional fine art pieces per artist. For its digital fine art offerings, 23VIVI utilizes blockchain technology with help from custom blockchain development services to issue cryptographic certificates of authenticity to protect the intellectual property of artists and interest of buyers in owning authentic, one-of-a-kind digital fine art pieces. Once a digital masterpiece is sold out it will never be created again.
Prior to 23VIVI, Terry ran Artsy Promoter, an advertising platform for artists to showcase their work.
“Artsy Promoter started out as an Instagram account and then became a network of Instagram accounts,” Terry remembers. “Basically, we just promoted artwork and from there we got sales. From June-September, we made $15,083 in profit. I was amazed at how much we made and I noted that I did it all on Instagram. I don’t own Instagram, so I had to figure out how to replicate the success if I want to make it anything big.”
The digital art market isn’t established yet, but it’s growing. And that makes for a great opportunity for 23VIVI. In its first month as a company, 23VIVI made more than $1,500 in revenue and sold 45 editions of digital art.
“Things are going well. I can’t complain,” Terry says. “The marketplace is still gaining traction. We are still building. We’re still in seed stage; in start-up stage.”
Both Terry and Cowdrey had to drop out of college to pursue 23VIVI fulltime in order to really make it work. “It was definitely a big decision for us,” Terry says. “What we’re doing goes against the grain. We’re not taking the traditional path where you do what you’re told to do.”
The way Terry sees it, if the company takes off, it won’t be a decision that they regret. If not, they can always finish up school.
“I love being an entrepreneur … but entrepreneurship is not for the weak-hearted,” Terry says. “There are a lot of tough days, especially as you start to grow. There are a lot of problems that come up and you just have to figure out the most efficient and practical way to solve them. Many things are part of a learning curve and that’s what we’re in gener8tor for. Now, it’s just accelerated.”
Gener8tor is a nationally ranked start-up accelerator that began its program with five new start-ups on Feb. 12, including 23VIVI. This is the eighth gener8tor program since its inception. Gener8tor recruits, mentors and trains entrepreneurs leading high-tech business ventures from around the world. Since 2012, the 38 start-up graduates from gener8tor’s previous programs have gone on to raise nearly $75 million in follow-on financing and create over 400 jobs.
According to a gener8r’s press release, 23VIVI and the four other companies selected to the program will receive a “$20,000 cash investment for 5-6 percent equity and $70,000 in additional investments… in the form of an uncapped convertible note.”
“Ultimately, right now, our biggest goal for the team is focusing. We feel like we have a clean shot at victory,” Terry says. “When you look at the online digital art marketplace, there are very few competitors. There are thousands of art galleries, but there are three of us when it comes to the digital art side. There’s a market.
“But, as a company, we also want to empower a lot of these digital artists and digital creators,” he adds. “For the first ever, we can say the digital is worth something and that worth can be translated on the marketplace. So, if you’re a digital artist …. Why not?”