In this week’s Frank Talk we sit down with Sean Green, Co-Founder & CEO of ARTERNAL CRM. Born in Jamaica and raised in Toronto, Sean’s entrepreneurial spirit has been cultivating since he was young. From watching his mother run the family maid-service business to partnering with friends to establish a hedge fund in the currency markets, to connecting homeowners with quality contractors with his second startup; Sean’s newest venture ARTERNAL CRM has taken him to new heights in the art world. The ultimate goal of ARTERNAL CRM is simple: help art dealers and sales directors better monetize their relationships by nurturing their clients which in turn will help them sell more art. Making the business of art “more business” is his focus by helping the industry’s art dealers leverage better technology to remove daily admin and bring about efficiency in their sales workflow. We are excited to bring you this innovator’s Frank Talk here!
What was your first job in the Arts?
Funny enough actually, this is my first job I’ve had in the arts. It started six years ago and has gone through two pivots and three name changes. Ha! Today we’re ARTERNAL. Welcome to the world of a tech startup in the arts!
What is the most useful or important thing you learned at this job?
Art dealers only care about sales. The tools in the art world are old school and lack the necessary workflow and feature set to assist art dealers in their goal of nurturing the relationships they are building and driving more sales.
Tell us a little more about yourself. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in this industry?
My path into the art world is a bit outside the norm or ordinary. I stumbled across the art world when my previous startup failed and I was talking to a friend (Zeina Dghaim) about possible next moves for my career. At the same time, she was in transition and told me that she was moving from her corporate gig to becoming an artist full time. I was shocked at her decision to switch careers, especially when all I heard about the art world up until then was that it is filled with starving artists. After I received an invite to her studio, I understood more about her new career move. I researched the market and I realized that I wanted to build software to help my friend and her business. That began my career in the art world.
What do you do now?
Well… Two pivots and three name changes later, we’re ARTERNAL. We are the definitive data-driven CRM (client relationship management) solution for the art world. Back in 2015, art dealers told us that they wanted sales. Today we help art dealers and their staff sell more art, nurture their clients and cultivate new relationships with art collectors.
Where are you from?
I was born in Jamaica and I grew up in Toronto, Canada, where all the good music is originating from these days. Another art form that I love!
What is the arts community like there?
I fancy it to the Brooklyn art scene. There’s a growing base of galleries that focus on representing homegrown talent. The market is small but it’s growing. ArtTO is the major art fair in the city and it’s getting better and better with each passing year. I’m seeing more US and global galleries participate.
Has where you come from shaped what you do in the arts today?
I wouldn’t say it has shaped what I do in the arts today, per se, but I will say that it has shaped who I am in the art world. Jamaica is the land of the hardworking hustler and my mom (Beryl Green) is a living testament to that. She instilled within me an unwavering work ethic. The island’s people are fun loving with a GSD (get-sh*t done) mentality. Toronto, Canada is one of the most multicultural cities on the planet with the arts at its core and as the saying goes, the “nicest people.” I’m a combination of both places and I bring those qualities into leading ARTERNAL and each new conversation I have with potential clients.
What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?
Get out there and interact with whatever part of the market you’re trying to be in. Build relationships with the right people at the appropriate times. The art world is at a critical period of change right now and if you believe you can help, throw your hat into the ring.
What is one of your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?
Signing some of the top art galleries around the world with ARTERNAL. Our platform is perfectly timed for the market as it is looking to create efficiency amongst gallery staff and leverage data to sell more art.
What has been a challenge for you?
Initially we had two challenges, building trust in the art world with ARTERNAL and getting art dealers to understand working efficiently is a way to save money and get a better return on your investment over time. Art dealers place minimum value on their own time and the time that their staff take doing menial laborious repetitive tasks. Fast-forward a couple years, and now we’ve established ourselves as thought leaders in this conversation.
What is something you do every day at work?
Laugh and smile! I believe this is important. I always want to work in an environment that has a good vibe and energy where the team enjoys coming into work every day.
What defines a good employee or boss to you?
A good employee executes and operates well as a team but also takes risks and isn’t afraid to fail.
A good boss listens well and accepts failure, and teaches how to grow from their efforts and through pushing boundaries. A good boss listens to his/her team and enables others to lead and knows when to delegate responsibilities and play to the strengths of his/her colleagues.
What do you think makes a person hirable?
I’m big on energy and the person must have a good vibe that is infectious and makes you want to come to work with them every day. This must be coupled with their ability to execute and deliver. Communicating effectively is a strong suit that I require as this is vital to the success of any company.
What is your advice to making yourself stand out in your workplace?
Make yourself valuable to others around you. Always hold yourself accountable for your actions. Execute on every task or role you take on.
What are things you can do to proactively boost your CV?
Show that you’re more than 1-dimensional and that there’s more to you as a person outside of the work environment. I always like to know what people love to do when they are outside our walls as it gives perspective into who they are.
Are there any tips you can give people entering the workforce?
If there is a job that you would like, or a place that you would love to work at, figure out a contact there and build a relationship. Apply for an internship, let people know that you are qualified and let your work speak for itself. If you keep knocking, someone is bound to let you in and that’s all you need. An In!
It’s all about receiving the yes. It’s easy to get deterred when you’re turned down for a position, but get back up and walk into your next interview with confidence. People always remember how you make them feel, says the great Maya Angelou, so always leave your interviewer feeling good about you.
What is the best exhibition you have seen in the last year?
This is a tough one as you can imagine, I’ve seen many exhibitions as ARTERNAL clients are galleries. I’m going to have to go with, “Derrick Adams Sanctuary”, which I saw at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. Playing it a little politically correct here as choosing between my client’s exhibitions is tough so I figured I’d go with a museum 🙂