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WEB/DIGITAL Connecting Creators of Bespoke Art and Buyers - How to get to my dream execution? HELP

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coursecreator

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Oct 14, 2020
8
4
15
NY
Good evening from leaf-littered and tepid NY.

First of all, if you have any expertise in anything please react below in any form. I need to know what existing business models and options for web platforms can help me get to a MVP. I'm sincerely grateful for any thoughts... particularly scathing, brutally honest ones.

The business:
Many niche-specific artists generate personal income by advertising one-time services on social media or online marketplaces for those who would like to order original creations by request. These orders are known as "commissions." These bespoke creators (and their fans) have a problem: all too frequently they are inundated by fraud, communication breakdowns, payment woes, and reputation-assassination skirmishes that spill out onto social media in attempts to "cancel" one another. The artists who continue on this model with any success do so by means of fame, consistency and/or quality. Still, as they attract clients with higher price tags, so too are both parties increasingly vulnerable to fraud/defamation. Think Slowlane: some are one unpaid project from going belly-up, and the rest do go belly-up.

My solution:
I would like to protect both the buyer and seller by collecting payment from the buyer upon confirmation of a commission and delivering it to the artist upon delivery & inspection. This marketplace would serve as a targeted lead generator, a credibility booster, and an insurance for artists. The customer gets purchasing power by comparing new and compelling offers, buyer's protection if the artist doesn't deliver, and extra insurance the artist understands the request and is meeting the standards they demand. Features include requesting extensions and rating/tipping post-purchase.

Thanks to lock-out horror stories over at PayPal, I know the opportunity for SUCS is huge. Huge SUCS. Here's my problem. How do I do it? I need to design a functional transactional and technical model... and for the life of me I can't find a direct competitor or comparable model. Forgive me for the following...
  1. How do I take payments... send payments... build a web platform...
OK clearly I'm lost. I'm an artist who is ready and willing to learn whatever it takes to test my idea because I see the demand for it in realtime every day. What happens when you can't find work? You stop building your brand, you believe there's no work out there for you, you feel your work is worthless because customers haggle you and you're already pushing the value of your time down to $2/hour. Fiverr, etsy, all these online marketplaces for freelancers and makers force the artist to create the demand when I want to bring the demand to them. The successful few in this industry thrive on bespoke commissions... each takes months and the price is reflected. I want to help them push prices up by offering their best services, but they already have extensive waitlists on the order of years. What about everyone else?

What if I could bring the high-profile waitlist to the bone-grinding, experienced artist who needs a lucky break?

I've come at this from several angles on how to execute it now, on the basest level, but what I need is expertise. Can someone who's gone before me please enlighten me, how do I establish these systems and am I getting into muddy waters? For example, once I connect customers, I have to compel them to use my service to complete payment and also give me my cut. Alternatively, I could sell the connection itself and remove myself from the remainder of the transaction... simultaneously removing the credibility. Or I could take customers at too low a profit margin, and the prevalence of fraud itself puts me out of business.

I know exactly how to provide value despite these concerns and if I capture the marketplace, the potential is huge. Ideally I'd love to see new artists getting in the game just like how they do on Redbubble. They'd take custom requests for $5 on the premise that they're still an artist-in-training and the customer gets a one-of-a-kind creation for a steal.

Ask me anything. If it's great, steal my idea, or kill it with a critical blow and show me the flaw. I imagine the best first steps I could take would be to refine my API knowledge and look into my financial questions about acting as intermediary. Resource recommendations will not be passed over... I'll commit myself to any proper read you can think of!

Thanks!!!! : )
- cc
 

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coursecreator

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Oct 14, 2020
8
4
15
NY
OP/Thread Starter again:

Assuming I have little to no investment capital and can't simply invent this system overnight, do I...
  • Hire artists by having them sign up as independent contractors, paying them on a net-30 schedule?
  • Personally guarantee individual payments by collecting them via Paypal and then buying the art from the artist, also by PayPal (or alternative)?
  • Start with established escrow/other financial systems and their web products and focus on the marketing side of it? If so, what already exists that I can utilize now?
More important than anything for this to work: I need a plethora of requests and artists who want the jobs. I know how to do this aspect of it in my sleep. The rest of it is a mystery.

Oh and since I'm new here, just let me know if there's a better place suited for this thread.
 
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coursecreator

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Oct 14, 2020
8
4
15
NY
Have I understood you right in that you want to essentially offer an escrow service between art creators and art buyers?
I might, but I might be confusing my priorities.

Take this imaginary transaction:
You post a job request (make me a necklace, this price range, this time frame, etc.)
Makers of your niche discover your request through me
Sellers send offers directly via me, including samples of previous work, bio, etc. and a quote
You accept your favorite offer and a contract is drawn
--> At this point there could be a number of ways payment is collected. I'm looking into the escrow/brokerage idea but I'm definitely complicating matters and increasing overhead that way. Seems only viable for four figure commissions and up.
--> Alternative ways to produce buyer confidence include ranking systems for sellers (i.e. eBay model) but this does not protect sellers from losing time should a buyer refuse to pay upon delivery.
After order is crafted, seller delivers the order to you
The seller receives payment from me

It might be a secondary benefit to the buyer, to provide confidence against fraud, I suppose. The primary benefit is a cost-free way to find someone who will create what you want while being transparent about the process of supporting an independent artist. Therefore to answer your question, no, I'm less interested in being a lender than I am in giving artists the opportunity to be discovered and get working.

Edit: To clarify, the Need I'm describing derives from the backwards process a bespoke seller of any kind has to use with the options readily available online today. If they utilize an e-commerce storefront platform like Shopify, lead generation is limited and they're forced to sell the service as a good next to actual, pre-made goods.
 
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G Man

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Sep 22, 2020
25
18
17
NI in UK
Ok, so you are making something like Logos, Web, Graphic Design & More. | 99designs.
A buyer posts a brief to your website and artists reply with a price, some sketches maybe and a portfolio of their work. The buyer chooses to proceed with one of them.
Sites like this are classed a spec work and there is a lot of pushback against it eg 99designs sucks - How spec work ruins not just the design industry
I'm not hating, just saying. I have used 99designs several times and always been very pleased with the results.
I think your main issue is a chicken and egg thing, how do you get artists onboard without buyers and vice versa. I'd start this process researching how I would deal with this. It's safe to assume that all the technical stuff is achieveable (budget willing). A lot of etsy sellers will do custom work, maybe start by reaching out to them, getting their opinions on your idea. Good luck!
 

coursecreator

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Oct 14, 2020
8
4
15
NY
Ok, so you are making something like Logos, Web, Graphic Design & More. | 99designs.
A buyer posts a brief to your website and artists reply with a price, some sketches maybe and a portfolio of their work. The buyer chooses to proceed with one of them.
Sites like this are classed a spec work and there is a lot of pushback against it eg 99designs sucks - How spec work ruins not just the design industry
I'm not hating, just saying. I have used 99designs several times and always been very pleased with the results.
I think your main issue is a chicken and egg thing, how do you get artists onboard without buyers and vice versa. I'd start this process researching how I would deal with this. It's safe to assume that all the technical stuff is achieveable (budget willing). A lot of etsy sellers will do custom work, maybe start by reaching out to them, getting their opinions on your idea. Good luck!
Hmm... enlightening stuff, just what I asked for thank you. This is to say, I'm not discouraged to know there is an existing model akin to what I'm talking about... though there are key differences that make 99designs exploitive, I see that now. (Definitely an opportunity to innovate, huh?)

"Spec work" is definitely an enemy here and I wouldn't refute that. Given the aspect of discovery is a cleared hurdle, the issue of trust still exists for contract-based work. Is there a way act as intermediary without those cited issues: artists working without pay, over-saturation, plagiarism, lack of communication?
 

G Man

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Sep 22, 2020
25
18
17
NI in UK
That's where you would be the escrow. Once the spec is agreed on and the artist has been commissioned to do the work, you would take payment from the buyer. You would make your money charging a fee for ensuring both parties were happy, dealing with any disputes and generally assisting in any way needed. Once the artwork/piece is finished & delivered you would release the payment.
Sounds simple, but I think of eBay. If I tell eBay I bought a laptop from an eBay seller and the only thing I recieved in the delivery was a potato, how does eBay decide who is lying, me or the seller? That would be your job to figure out in this venture...
 

coursecreator

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Oct 14, 2020
8
4
15
NY
That's where you would be the escrow. Once the spec is agreed on and the artist has been commissioned to do the work, you would take payment from the buyer. You would make your money charging a fee for ensuring both parties were happy, dealing with any disputes and generally assisting in any way needed. Once the artwork/piece is finished & delivered you would release the payment.
Sounds simple, but I think of eBay. If I tell eBay I bought a laptop from an eBay seller and the only thing I recieved in the delivery was a potato, how does eBay decide who is lying, me or the seller? That would be your job to figure out in this venture...
Well I am not an escrow officer, so how do I hire out those services? In the case of digital art for example, wouldn't it be rather easy to examine a contested case and see if the creator delivered or not (keeping all communication in house to ensure this for example)?

Or... have I simply designed for myself the already-existing Slowlane job of escrow officer...? Hope there's more here than that.
 
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coursecreator

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Oct 14, 2020
8
4
15
NY
Ok update: so escrow.com has an "Escrow API" that protects purchases through your website. Utilizing this service (thank you @G Man for affirming I need escrow services), it is possible to focus on acting as a lead generation portal a la limos.com. This is exactly what I was looking for, so in a roundabout way, I have an answer. Time to scheme a little Fastlane hitchhiking.
 
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