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Sunday, April 21, 2024
BusinessMove Over London

Move Over London

This tech platform is proof the future of art & tech doesn’t have to be London centric.

Manchester has always been an entrepreneur’s city. It was at the forefront of the industrial revolution, the birthplace of the world’s first stored computer system, and in recent years the fastest growing tech hub in Europe. With a history of innovation, it makes sense companies emerging from this constantly evolving city are carving out spaces previously thought to be reserved for the London crowd.

Such is the case with Arcarta, a young tech platform serving the art market. Founded in 2019 by Tom Noon and Matthew Whiteley, the Art Market Due Diligence Platform serves over 300+ international art market clients found in the likes of London’s Mayfair gallery district and New York City’s Upper East Side. For this reason alone, you could be forgiven for thinking their HQ would be off Regent’s Street, but Arcarta’s home is firmly rooted in Manchester’s St. Peter’s Square.

Both northerners themselves (Matthew was born in North Yorkshire and Tom in Wigan), the duo made Manchester their HQ out of economic necessity, starting the company as housemates, and ideating around Tom’s kitchen table. But, as the company has grown to include elite clients such as PACE, Colnaghi and publicly listed art marketplaces, there is no desire to move anytime soon.

As Matt explains, “Having lived in different cities around the world I’ve always felt a special connection with Manchester. We feel like we have a great work life balance here. As we’ve grown and expanded our team, Manchester felt like the perfect place to call home for the business. With members of the team spread across the UK and EU, travel links and the location of the city have suited perfectly.”

Tom also has a special attachment to Manchester and appreciates its community feel. “Manchester has somehow managed to continue to feel small – and less frantic than some major cities – even as it continued to expand.”

And with recent major investment into the Manchester arts and cultural sector they won’t be alone for long.

Recently the new Factory International Arts and Cultural Centre has brought attention to what has be dubbed a ‘rebalancing of the country’. The largest government investment since the Tate Modern, it is clear Manchester is asserting itself as a serious cultural hub.

This, married with its already booming tech industry, means that Tom and Matt are in the right place to grow their company.

It also offers them flexibility – hiring an international team that spans across the UK and Europe, while still being a train ride away from their clients.

As for why they have managed to carve out a space for themselves in a London dominated landscape – both credit their shared values of optimism, honest realism, authenticity, and radical transparency. They also have a lot in common with their clients, who are also small-mid sized business owners.

With an average team size of 4-7 people, it is easy to forget that galleries are primarily small businesses. While it may seem unglamourous, Anti Money Laundering Regulation is a legal requirement – and a process small businesses are not always equipped to do.

Supported with a background in experience design, Matt and Tom have made it their mission to understand their art community fully. Providing a necessary service, they put customer experience at the centre of everything they do – creating a product made for non-compliance art professionals that is elegant, visually appealing and easy to use.

As Head of Product Matt asserts that, “having a background in user focused design has helped us ensure our products are usable no matter how technically skilled someone might be. Since the beginning we have endeavored to make the complex feel simple.”

Tom, who acts as CEO, echoes Matt stating that while it is “easy to overlook, Anti-Money Laundering regulation has – and will always have – a two-sided impact affecting both buyers and sellers. As a two-sided design challenge, our focus has – and will always be – to minimize disruption to sales between trustworthy, legitimate persons, by arming a gallery with reasons to transact with anyone, anywhere and provide the required evidence to back this up.” 

But that is not to say that Arcarta is all tech, and no art. Tom regularly makes trips to all the major London art fairs and the company has an evening event launching at Cromwell Place in South Kensington this November.

For now, they have the best of both worlds, able to dip into London when necessary but grow their base close to home.

As they move forward, they are focused on making their client’s lives easier, “any day the process doesn’t feel like a burden that looks like success,” and getting their new office dog Chico acclimatized to walks around St Peter’s Square.

Sam Allcock
Sam Allcock
With over 20 years of experience in the field SEO and digital marketing, Sam Allcock is a highly regarded entrepreneur. He is based in Cheshire but has an interest in all things going on in the North West and enjoys contributing local news to the site.
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