Capital Art – Bringing Iranian Art to London

Name: Marina Panahidran

Business name: Capital Art

Capital Art aims to be an integrated Iranian fine Art centre in London. The different segments of business are:

  • Iranian fine Art sales : among different channels like: physical, online, auction houses etc.
  • On-Line Trade : possibility of trading art by individuals via Capital Art, also evaluating the relevant fine Arts by this centre.
  • Technology : Issuing online originality certificates and socialising the e-galleries.
  • Merchandising : Sales of relevant art and cultural products same as museums shops.
  • Training : Offering short-term training at workshops for junior artists.

What inspired you to start your own business/project?

picture 3First of all, working for more than 10 years in a number of big companies caused me to reflect on my achievements and think about my future. I thought after all my hard work, the best position I could achieve  is managing director however, I would still be an employee of the company. So I decided to increase my business management knowledge by studying an MSc in International Business Management to start my own business. I felt that it was the perfect opportunity to use all my energy, experience and knowledge to gain more than just a monthly salary.

After making this decision, I started to study different businesses, some significant factors like new economical and political changes in Iran (my home country), the growth in the international art market, the great position of London as a second major art trade location in the world, having direct access to artists encouraged me start a business in this field.

What was your biggest fear about starting your business and how have you overcome it?

picture 4As I am in planning stages of my business, my fears still exists. The major ones are:

Business rules and regulations in UK that I am not familiar with it. To deal with this I did some researches and I started talking to people who started businesses in the UK to gain a better insight on the procedure.

Financial matters: The success of this business will highly depend on secure, financial resources. I have to invest at least 6 months and I should be able to survive in terms of covering business costs and living costs. To deal with this fear, I convert some of my assets in my home country to cash to be able to invest. Also I started negotiating with some investors to convince them to investing in Capital Art. But the fact is, I am still worried about it.

There are many old and experienced auction houses and galleries in London and there is  high competition in the market which makes it hard to over come this fear, however I will focus on my abilities and differentiation to best compete.

What are you most proud of? – e.g. personal milestones, awards, sales, awareness increase, positive feedback.

Firstly I am proud of being selected by Kingston’s Enterprise tem. They believed me and my idea which is extremely valuable and increased my self confidence and ‘can do’ attitude and passion to start my business.

Secondly, I am proud of  convincing an investor to support my first event to evaluate the market in the real world.

Lastly, I have gained positive feedback from some experienced and professional people who are working in London’s art market and they welcomed my idea and thought it would be successful giving me more confidence.

How does your business differ from others? What’s your USP (unique selling point)?

Currently, there are limited galleries and individuals operating in this field in London. My business will be integrated and primarily focuses on the Iranian market, in other words this business would play a bridging role between Iran and the western market.

How did you come up with your business name and branding imagery?

The reason of choosing ‘Capital Art’ as my business name was to establish  that this art centre is beyond all other competitors and should be the default choice for Iranian art.

How have you promoted or marketed your business?

At the moment I am busy preparing the marketing action plan. Some ideas are :

  • Hiring exhibition halls and galleries that have had Iranian art exhibitions before to have access to their potential customers.
  • Negotiating with Asia, Middle-East and Iranian communities to introduce the business.
  • Participating in art fairs and events.
  • Internet marketing and befitting social media.
  • Advertising in art magazines, red buses and the underground stations in areas renowned for art culture.

How did you raise funds for your business/project?

Using my personal savings, family fund and negotiating with investors.

Looking back, what would you have done differently with your business/project?

Stronger networking links. I would have tried to find the right person with authority inside Iran as well as London to support in supply point and marketing point.

Where do you want to be in 5 years?

I want to be the first stop point for Iranian art lovers all over the world. It means that whoever decided to buy Iranian fine art, anywhere, anytime does it via ‘Capital Art’. Ideally becoming trustable and the most credible Iranian art Trade centre. (As popular as Google in Iran’s art).

How has/did University support you in developing and growing your business/project?

picture 2Different valuable workshops held by the Enterprise! team like bright ideas, finding your first customers and the accelerator programme weekend and so many other events enhance my business knowledge and provided guidance to plan my business in a realistic way. In addition, inviting entrepreneurs and guest speakers by enterprise team provided a great opportunity to get ideas and a business model to apply for my own business.

Networking during all mentioned events, helped me to speak with different people and get more ideas and feedback about my business. What also empowered me was the synergy between knowledge, ability and experience.

Why do you believe enterprise skills are important? Please give us a brief quote.

“Enterprise skills are the alphabet of running a business. Whilst you don’t know the alphabet, you would not be able to write a single word. So if you don’t have any entrepreneurship skills, you would not be able to take a single step towards developing your business.”



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