Check out our interview with talented Brazilian female founders and entrepreneurs, Manuela Seve and Renata Thome, who founded the world’s largest art collective Alpha’a back in 2014. Alpha’a has since its beginning been a trailblazer in the art/tech world, implementing cutting-edge technology such as VR and blockchain technology with the vision to make the art world more transparent and accessible.
Alpha’a is a B2B marketplace that connects large companies with tailor-made art collections by their 7,000+ artists across the world. Their clients count Airbnb, Why Hotel, and Four Seasons. Sustainability is a main focus, keeping no inventory and working with local artists for all their projects and streamlining the supply chain by printing directly in the client’s country. Diversity is another main focus working with all artists despite color, race, sexuality etc. The artists are chosen through crowdsourcing to give everyone the same fair chance. Lastly Alpha’a is very involved in bringing awareness to relevant issues like plastic pollution in our oceans, saving the rainforest, and empowering women in third world countries, which they address through big yearly projects.
Their latest add-on to the Alpha’a platform is the Alpha’a Connect Series, which will empower a union between art, design, and real estate. The Alpha’a Connect series will bring to light works and spaces built by true visionaries, like the first one in the series, the world-renowned Invisible House.
Hi Manuela, please tell us a little about you?
I’m really not a normal person and I pride myself in that. Everything I do is done with full intention and I’ve been told a couple of times that I’m a little intense, lol
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Relentless, creative and utopian
Who is your role model?
I have several but as a female founder I must honor RBG and Gloria Steinem for paving the way towards a little more equality, I hope I can do for women a percentage of what they’ve done.
What is the best and worst part of being in the Art business?
The best part is the amazing creative people you meet and so is the worst part, there are a lot of big personalities and egos in our world
How and when did you start into art?
From the womb, my mom is an artist, my dad is an art dealer. Instead of going to the toy store they’d take me to museums.
Do you ever get nervous?
All the time, I have never gone up on a stage or date without being at least a little nervous, however I’m a fighter so the pressure actually helps me produce.
What did you learn from your biggest failure?
The term “Fail Forward” is a real thing, if you have the capability to stop and analyze what went wrong and why that idea failed, you will grow so much more than when you succeed. Its hard to pinpoint what was my biggest failure since there have been a lot of them along the way, but we learned through events that the sales effort of selling one work to one individual is about the same as selling tens or hundreds of works to one corporation and that’s how Alpha’a became b2b.
What’s your advice for the newer artists?
Find your process and insist in it, great artists get to be great by repetition. Think of the law of 10k hours (Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell).
Top 3 Fav Artist?
What book should every entrepreneur read?
The Lean Startup
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Knowing that we actually are changing people’s lives not only by bringing more beauty into it, but representing a diverse group of voices that deserve to be heard, but historically have not been able to break into the fine art market.
Now tell us about your “Alpha’a,” and what is the feeling to be the largest art collective in the world?
“Our” Alpha’a 😉 is the little engine that could. When we started the company we knew we were going to accomplish great things but when things started moving forward it was at times hard to believe that this was the same company we founded in Latin America. Our business model was questioned from day 1 and we kept hearing that we were never going to succeed against the galleries. We’re now able to integrate with galleries through the blue label line providing another channel of distribution for their limited edition prints, and supplying our clients with the best curation in the world, powered by an algorithm.
Tell us about Alpha’a Connect Series?
The Alpha’a connect series was the missing piece. We knew that it was not enough to put artwork up on walls that we had to build a bond between properties and local communities, and our qr coded integrated content does just that. It builds a bridge between the digital and the physical and empowers local artists while increasing diversity by putting a face behind the artworks.
What is next for Alpha’a?
We’re preparing for the launch of alphaa.io a blockchain platform we started work on in 2018, but our approach to NFTs is quite unique, since we believe that authentication and provenance in the physical world adds a lot more value not only to the arts but the entire collectibles market.
What is your favorite healthy food?
Sweetgreen giant bowl of kale, quinoa, chickpeas and a lot of other goodies
And your favorite cheat food?
Chocolate, donuts anything sweet and delicious
How would your best friend describe you?
Loyal and intense
What’s next for Manuela in 2021?
Ever since I moved from NY to LA I’ve been on a path of self discovery and improvement, but I’ve recently stepped into a whole other level by actively working on manifesting bigger things and it really is amazing how powerful our mind can be at creating our own reality. I’d like to build a home and settle roots in LA since I have felt so nurtured by the creativity community here and start creating more founder events supporting women. The first one will take place in Venice in the first week of November.
What is your own definition of happiness?
Happiness is abundance of love and resources. Resources don’t necessarily mean physical objects but whatever we need to live a fulfilling life.
How is a normal day in your life?
I get started pretty early with work since my team is in the East Coast, Brazil and London. I’m on calls most of the morning from 7am to 12pm then I start working on my own tasks and take a break for exercise around 3pm, I’m an avid cyclist and also practice yoga. I’ll come back home refreshed and get to do a little more of my creative tasks, go to bed early and start again.
What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?
A long bike ride up a beautiful mountain, donuts (sidecar for extra points), a meal with friends and a movie
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Warhol, I’d love to visit the factory in its prime
Best advice ever given?
Living by the 4 Agreements: Be impeccable with your word, don’t make assumptions, don’t take anything personally and always do your best
Do you support any charity?
Yes we collaborate with a lot of NGO’s through Alpha’a: Oceanic Global, Rainforest Alliance and we’re rolling something out with the Creative Action Network
Name 3 things you can’t live without?
Exercise, Love and good food
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
I’ll still be in the startup world, but Alpha’a will be an even bigger company with hundreds of employees and active walls worldwide. I also see myself as more involved on the investment and advisory side of venture capital, I’ve already started in a role as a venture partner with one of our investors Gaingels and have been working closely with a group of female founders.
Favorite song? Why?
That’s a really hard question, I’m a dj and go through a lot of music but nothing cheers me up more than a good disco anthem, Young Hearts Run Free comes to mind now
What music do you like?
80s, 70s, disco, alt rock, deep house and so much more
What do you think of Social Media?
A necessary evil, we must learn that what we see on social media is only one side and use it for that purpose to promote your business.
Where we can follow you?
Quote: “Never give up, never give up, never never give up” Winston Churchill
Favorite Singer/Artist: Madonna
Movie: The Life aquatic with Steve Zissou
Travel Destination: South East Asia
Sports Team: Fluminense (Brasil)
Tv Show: A Handmaid’s tale
Book: Principles, Ray Dalio