Many of us miss the creative, cultural atmosphere that comes from going to a gallery or exhibition. Luckily, the Museum of Contemporary Digital Art (MoCDA) gives us the digital art fix we’ve all been lacking during the pandemic. MoCDA is a museum that holds exhibitions and provides digital art education and technology to artists, collectors, institutions and art lovers. The MoCDA website allows you to take a virtual tour of an exhibition, learn more about the world of digital art and watch live talks with artists, curators and experts whilst in-person events are on hold. Digital art buffs unite!
Serena Tabacchi co-founded MoCDA after working as a Team Manager at the Tate. She channels her passion for digital art into the business, aiming to spread knowledge and enthusiasm around digital art.
Let’s hear about Serena’s journey as a female founder.
1. Which 3 skills would you say are crucial to being a company founder?
The first skill you need is patience. It’s important to be patient as things will happen that are out of your control.
Staying focused is also a useful skill, it’s good to keep distractions away so you can concentrate as much as possible.
I also find that thinking outside the box is beneficial. What you envision isn’t always what happens and you don’t always see the most convenient solution, so it’s good to be creative and come up with unique solutions to your problems.
For example, no one knew that COVID was coming and many people have had to be more flexible with their business. When I first started my business, I had a completely different vision for the business model but things changed and adapted along the way. Being creative is also about being flexible.
2. If you could learn more about one area of marketing, what would it be?
I’ve looked into learning more about marketing and there needs to be a better ‘how to do marketing guide’ out there. Because things are developing so fast, it’s difficult to keep up with the pace of new applications and marketing tools.
I wish I knew more about the target audience. I initially thought that we’d target a more European audience, but I later discovered that most of our audience is based in the US and Asia. Having a good understanding of your audience and how to reach them will save you a lot of time. It’s helpful to know what social media channels they’re on and if they prefer reading content or watching video content.
3. What are the challenges you face now that are different from when you started your business?
Scaling! Our team started with a small number of people and it’s now consistently growing pretty fast. Finding like-minded people that can continue developing the brand with you is one of the main challenges we face. It can be difficult to manage a larger team and make sure our content and branding is consistent.
As we’ve been scaling up the business over the last six months, it’s been interesting to see how we’ve engaged with people who have joined the team without meeting them in person due to COVID. It’s challenging to stay connected and maintain our brand’s consistency across a new team that is international and working remotely to different time zones.
4. What are the biggest barriers you face when it comes to growing your business?
Due to COVID, we can’t curate art and do exhibitions in real life which is a barrier for us. We’re eager to resume in-person events as soon as we can as this is a massive opportunity for us to connect with the audience on a more personal level.
5. What’s your biggest business achievement to date?
We recently opened an exhibition about abstract art in the age of new media. I see this exhibition as a great achievement because it brings together multiple artists that are familiar with the crypto art space and pioneers in digital and new media art. We also created our first non-fungible token (a unit of data stored on a blockchain that can represent a unique digital item like art) in the form of a poster to sell to support the artist. We’re always finding new ways to improve stability for artists, museums and cultural events
6. How did you recognise that you were an entrepreneurial person?
I didn’t know! A lot of people grew up knowing they were entrepreneurial, but it wasn’t like that for me. I did a course in management and leadership where we were asked what risks we would take in life and if we were comfortable having responsibility for others. The course raised things that were exciting for me to think about.
I felt that I could manage pressure in a working environment as well as manage people. When I worked at The Tate for nearly three years, managing 30 people wasn’t stressful for me. It was exciting to see the team growing which helped me to open my mind and not fear an entrepreneurial life. I always felt a real sense of ownership in every job I did. I never had the mindset of ‘you end your eight-hour shift and it’s over’, I carried my job with me as something I was proud of. I think that sense of ownership and independence is important which is why everyone at MoCDA has their own projects to manage.
7. What makes you proudest about your company?
The fact that most of the team are women and we are so international. Something all companies should be working on more is diversity and I want to continue to strive for more diversity in our team. I’m proud that women are the driving force of MoCDA.
8. If someone was struggling with their confidence, what would your advice be?
I would try to understand where your worries come from, then isolate what worries you the most. When you narrow this down you can find the right resources and support to help you with your confidence. Exercising your mind and body also helps you to deal with low confidence. Find a balance between what makes you happy and what you want to do in life, and you can train yourself to become more confident every day. If you do five minutes of running every day, you’ll eventually run a marathon.
9. If you could magically change one thing about your business now, what would it be?
I’d like to find new ways to make the business and cultural activity more sustainable. As much as we love technology, the electrical pollution and all of the art market craziness isn’t sustainable.
10. What are 2 characteristics you look for when you are hiring someone to work for you?
When I look for people to join the team, I prioritise finding somebody who you connect with that understands what you’re working on. Communication and connection can matter more than background and skills. Communication skills in particular are essential, especially now as we can’t read body language over video calls. I want to find like-minded people that care about our business’ mission and vision, people who would love working in this sector and understand that MoCDA is like a family.