Shortly after I arrived in Miami, Wifredo Fernandez — one of the founders of TheLab Miami (the coworking space I work out of) — introduced me to Jordan Melnick. Jordan’s a native Miamian, a blogger and journalist, a regular around Wynwood and now a purveyor of inspiration. He and his team created an app called SKTCHY. I think of it as instagram for artists but it’s actually much more/different than that. You can post photos of yourself on Sktchy to inspire artists to draw you, paint you, maybe even sculpt you. And of course you’re welcome to choose someone else’s photo to draw yourself. There are no drawing tools in the app. The Sktchy team decided to leave the creating up to the experts — the artists — and instead focus on becoming an ever-growing source of inspiration and a place for them to share their creativity with the world. The community enjoys the artwork with wows. Relationships form. It’s the give-to-get principle in action. Inspire me and I’ll do a portrait. The concept and indeed the UX is simple, arresting, engaging. I saw it and loved it. Why? I believe there is an underserved market here. More on this in a bit. Jordan and team did a great job with the UX, they’ve got some early traction and there is very good engagement among users. It’s an early bet because I’m the first investor but I feel great about Jordan and the team and love the app.
In doing my due diligence, I was looking for a sizable market and good, early engagement and I found both.
Way back in the days when MySpace was still something and FB was opening up the platform, I came to believe social networks would go vertical and niche. In fact, I wrote two ClickZ articles on the topic in 2006 and 2007. [I am afraid to re-read them but you can here and here. No ridicule please — I wrote those almost 8 years ago!] Fast forward several years, and under that thesis I invested in a gay social network called Fabulis.com (which later pivoted to become Fab.com). Today there is an endless array of niche and or vertical social networks. In looking at SKTCHY I recalled Richard Florida’s controversial thesis about the rise of the creative class. In 2002 Florida said that there were 40 million workers in the US engaged in the creative class. The figure stuck with me. You don’t have to walk around the Mission in SF, Wynwood in Miami, or Williamsburg in Brooklyn to see members of the creative class at work. They’re in every town. In the US alone, you have more than 1.5 million professional artists, architects and designers (very narrowly and traditionally defined) and many more who create beautiful things. Using the 1:10 to 1:20 ratio of content creation to content consumption, you can extrapolate yourself to an audience in the US that is easily in the tens of millions. If you extend that worldwide, you can see a potential audience in the hundreds of millions. Oh, and remember DrawSomething? It was downloaded 50 million times before Zynga finally bought it. OK, that’s not a great analogy…but you have to admit it was a phenomenon!
The early engagement on SKTCHY is very good. The app has been downloaded nearly 90K times. There are 30,000 original artworks in the archive from artists in 60+ countries and 1,000 or more are being posted every week. In the last week, there have been 25K “wows.” A popular work can get 300+ likes. People are creating and interacting with the content.
And user feedback is superb:
“Not including my “free draws” or works in progress, this is my 100th Sktchy-inspired portrait! Thanks again to Jordan and the entire Sktchy staff and community for not only an amazing app, but a seriously life-changing experience… I am so grateful for all of you. This has been hands down the most productive year I’ve had art-wise in my entire life… And it’s not even over yet! Thank you!!” Artist: Krystal Figueroa
“I didn’t even know I could draw until I downloaded this app” I didn’t draw AT ALL! But I felt bad people drawing me and me not returning the favour and now I have almost 100 people tagging me to draw them and a couple of people on Facebook want to commission me! Me?! My silly little doodles!!! X” Artist: Doodle Swan
What’s next? A better on-boarding experience. Easier sharing. Faster load times. Richer analytics. And a few things the team is keeping under wraps.
Download SKTCHY, post an inspirational photo and enjoy some art. You’ll get hooked like I did.