Pembroke VCT invests £1 million into Smartify to deliver virtual arts education and expand global partnerships
Pembroke VCT, the venture capital trust focused on building the brands of tomorrow, has made an initial investment of £1 million into Smartify, the app named by New Scientist as the ‘Shazam and Spotify for art’.
Smartify, founded in 2015 by four friends; Anna Lowe, Thanos Kokkiniotis, Nick Mueller and Ron Rijmoet, helps people make meaningful connections with art whilst providing museums with next generation digital technology.
Partnering with over 160 museums worldwide, the app instantly identifies two million digitised artworks and has achieved the status of the world’s most downloaded museum app, with over one million downloads.
Pembroke’s investment follows Smartify’s notable 300% growth in the past year, having successfully adapted to deliver online arts education during the pandemic, and provide digital support for museums globally as they reopen. It has also established partnerships with world-class institutions including London’s National Gallery, The Smithsonian and the Belvedere Palace in Vienna.
Pembroke’s investment will be used to support international expansion, particularly in the US, and the evolution of the platform from an app-first experience into a multi-channel offering that supports online arts education and enables user friendly ecommerce.
Andrew Wolfson, CEO of Pembroke Investment Managers LLP commented;
“The Smartify app is a truly unique product enabling millions of people worldwide to meaningfully connect with art, whether in a gallery or from home during the pandemic. Since launch five years ago, Smartify has established itself as the leading app for galleries and art lovers alike and we are very excited to see the launch of the new web platform and to support Smartify in its next stage of growth”.
Anna Lowe, Co-Founder of Smartify added:
“This is a huge step forward for Smartify and we’re delighted to see the hard work of our team result in achieving this milestone. This first institutional fundraise will facilitate expansion worldwide and will be crucial in allowing us to deliver rich arts education and storytelling online.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Pembroke VCT plc, managed by Pembroke Investment Managers LLP, is a venture capital trust focusing on growth stage companies in the design, education, food, beverage and hospitality, wellness, digital services and media sectors. The investment team aims to find exceptional, innovative founders as well as use their network and experience to grow the consumer brands of tomorrow – giving investors the opportunity to share in the growth of some of Britain’s most exciting and entrepreneurial smaller companies. The team is committed to helping strong management teams realise their vision through Pembroke’s strategic and operational expertise, helping at every stage of their company’s growth.
Smartify is a free app which helps people make meaningful connections with art and culture. Named by the New Scientist as ‘Shazam and Spotify for art’, Smartify app allows people to instantly identify artworks by scanning them on your smartphone and access arts education online. The app has won numerous awards including the 2019 UN World Summit Award for Culture and Tourism; the GLOMO for Most Innovative App at the Mobile World Congress 2018 , three Webby Awards (Best Art App; Best Use of the Mobile Camera; and People’s Choice); and Apollo Art Magazine’s Digital Innovation of the Year. Smartify is also regularly featured by Apple as one of the best Machine Learning apps in the App Store.
Andrew Wolfson, CEO, Pembroke Investment Managers LLP
CEO Andrew Wolfson is responsible for executing the firm’s strategy, leading the investment team, deal origination and supporting portfolio companies. Andrew sits on the board of a number of Pembroke’s investments. Prior to the launch of Pembroke, Andrew was a Director at Oakley Capital and worked with smaller portfolio companies including KX and James Perse. Before joining Oakley, Andrew ran several businesses working across a breadth of sectors from hospitality to manufacturing and telecoms. Andrew is also a director of Benesco Charity Limited, and a trustee of The Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust.
Anna Lowe, Co-Founder, Smartify
Anna is Co-Founder and Director of Partnerships at Smartify. A firm believer that culture needs stewardship not disruption, Anna works closely with museums to embrace new technologies that support their growth and resilience. Anna is a Trustee of Tate, the youngest ever trustee of a national museum. Anna also sits on the UK5G Creative Industries working group and Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC)