How One Entrepreneur is Bringing Art to You, Wherever You Are

How One Entrepreneur is Bringing Art to You,

Wherever You Are

If you’ve arrived at the stage in your company where you’ve officially moved into your own space, then you know that with the excitement (and ahem, bills) comes the stress of figuring out your brand aesthetic. Will you have an open-office floor plan or cubicles? A fun kitchen or bigger bathrooms? Conference rooms or corner offices?

And what about the artwork?

Imagine if you didn’t have to invest in expensive artwork but could still give your employees a glimpse into the world of some of the most influential artists in history. Thanks to Dot Bustelo, the founder and CEO of Loupe, you can. What’s Loupe? A technology and sales company that allows its customers to stream artwork from around the globe. You can also guest-curate your own gallery via your Apple TV or by webstreaming. Love a piece so much that you want to own a print – or the original? You can do that, too.

With the online art market valued at $2.64 billion in 2016, Bustelo has definitely tapped into something – and people are paying attention. Since its inception, Loupe has reached the coveted top position for ‘Lifestyle App’ on Apple TV in 35 countries, and is in the top ten in 75 countries.

Here, Bustelo talks about her background, what’s next and what she wish she knew before becoming an entrepreneur:

What’s your background? Have the arts always been part of your life?

I worked at Apple for many years on the Worldwide Product Marketing Team. My role was to travel around the country introducing Apple’s professional music software, Logic Pro, and music production techniques to world touring bands, DJs and producers.  

Dot Bustelo Courtesy of Affixmusic

I am also a long-time electronic music producer myself and started my career in music equipment sales, which all led to this role at Apple. The vision of Loupe was born while working in the music industry, spending long hours in recording studios, and constantly looking for visual inspiration to support the creative energy in the room.

So cool. Have you always found art to be relaxing?

For as far back as I can remember, I’ve sought out environments where I could quiet the mind, be in a zone to relax, be comfortable, and most of all, be inspired. Dim the lights, enjoy some candles, add one blue light and pour the right beverage, and it’ll create the zone and ambience in my studio to work on music.

I’d often turn on old 1940s movies without the sound – movies that starred Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Lana Turner or my other favorite directors of visuals sci-fi.  For around an entire year, I left ANIMATRIX running with no sound. It always amazed me how well these great images fit with whatever music was playing, and how much people who visited enjoyed the atmosphere.

I began thinking about the over 120 million people streaming music at home, and what they were doing with their TVs.  And I thought about the technology of streaming music, which has become the accepted norm. Why not apply this technology to visual art?

What was the moment when you knew you had to be an entrepreneur? 

I honestly never had that moment. I had only a vision of something I saw clearly that I wanted to exist, and that was contagious. A team of creative and talented people emerged around that idea and myself. 

What was the moment you knew you were onto something?

A young friend who worked for one of the major upscale hotel chains as a concierge looked me in the eye when I shared my idea and said he wanted to be the one to bring Loupe to his hotel’s global branding team. Funnily enough, he is now marketing director in New York at one of their properties and we are working on that as we speak. Moral of that story? Never judge anyone’s value by their current position or resume – only by your intuition.

What is your goal for Loupe Art?

My goal is to hear about people walking into a faraway hotel, cocktail lounge, airport terminal or other memorable space and see extraordinary art streaming on ultra-thin LED displays and other ubiquitous surfaces. They’ll smile, retelling the moment they first caught a glimpse of Loupe, the music that was playing, the company they were with, and the experience of Loupe. 

They return home and continue to enjoy Loupe with their friends and family, building infinitely-customizable playlists of visual art.

We are applying streaming technology to visual art so people can be as immersed in art as we are with music. I hope to expand the physical experience of great art – like that first visit to the Louvre – to infinite physical locations, times of day, and moods.

What’s next for your company?

By launching on Apple TV, we were able to enter global markets at launch. Apple populates all Apple TV App Stores around the world with our service.

With Loupe’s managing partner Karrie Bran now based in Europe (owner of The Kagency, a New York-based events company representing 400 venues and a client list of luxury brands), we plan to expand our sponsored art channels, installations, events and marketplace sales into Europe and other global markets.  

Loupe launched the paid guest-curated channel program in 2017, allowing museums, galleries, art festivals and other art-centric businesses to have a channel on our platform. It is a stunning channel launched in January by New York Art Gallery/Art Installation Services company ARTI.NYC.  Talks are underway with many other exciting art-centric brands and partners who see the opportunity to be part of a new global art platform.

What advice would you give female entrepreneurs?

The same advice I would give to male entrepreneurs. Stay true to your original vision. Live the passion fully and authentically, and you will draw in extraordinary people to move it forward. They will open doors while others may do the opposite, but no one ever holds you back except yourself.

What’s surprised you the most about being a female entrepreneur? 

I don’t focus on my gender or surprises about starting a company as gender-specific. The less I do, the less I feel it being part of the dialogue with others or their perception of me. It’s very difficult to start your own business and I don’t think the challenges of going from “zero to one” of building a business are easier with either gender. I suppose this may come from having worked in such a male-dominated industry for so long. I could either find the gender part of my work or table it.

This month, Loupe was honored as a Finalist for a Global Impact Award in the Category of Innovation by the City of Atlanta for contributing to the city’s exponential growth into global markets in technology and business. I happened to be the only one of the 12 finalists that was female when we were all brought to the podium. A few people in the audience pointed that out to me afterwards and thanked me for being there.

I took note, and kept moving. Back to work.

Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay Tigar is a writer and editor in New York. Her work has appeared in Self, Refinery29, Bustle, Prevention and many more. When she's not traveling or spending time with friends, she's going to the latest boxing class, trying a new food trend or volunteering.

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