Gallea raises $1.5 million CAD in seed funding to expand art distribution network

A room with white walls decorated with printed pictures. A photo of Frank Ocean is displayed in the center wall.

Art tech company and distribution network Gallea announced on Wednesday that it raised $1.5 million CAD in a seed funding round.

The round, which closed in June, was led by Telegraph Hill Capital, a venture capital firm based in San Francisco, California. It also included Canadian investors Real Ventures, ACET Capital, Anges Québec, Montréal’s National Social Value Fund and Dispatch Ventures. Its global investors were Manford Technologies and undisclosed angel investors from Canada, the United States and China.

Gallea’s platform centralizes and automates the sale and exhibition process for artists to amplify their presence both in online and offline communities.

Gallea is one of the companies in the FounderFuel 2020 cohort where it was provided with mentoring and coaching by entrepreneurs over a three-month residency in Notman House.

The Montreal-based startup was launched in January 2018 and delivers a platform that connects a network of more than 8,000 artists across 37 countries. It also expanded its network of exhibiting venues across Montréal, Toronto, Ottawa, and Vancouver.

Its platform features an online art gallery, information about its featured artworks and its artists, virtual exhibitions and My Wall service, an AR feature where users can see prints on their own wall before a potential purchase. The company also has an art supply shop that ships products internationally.

With this seed funding, the startup wants “to expand from being the largest art distribution network in Canada to the largest in the world.”

Gallea claims to have connected with 10 times as many artists as it had in previous years to offer online and physical opportunities of selling their work.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the shutdown of in-person art exhibitions in Canada inherently increasing the need to digitize the way people view and interact with art.

Gallea’s platform centralizes and automates the sale and exhibition process for artists to amplify their presence both in online and offline communities.

Canadian museums and galleries have also introduced online art campaigns amid the pandemic. The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) started offering virtual school programs for students in junior kindergarten to Grade 12 in October 2020. People can also participate in AGO’s virtual art talks led by professional art educators where they can take a tour of the art gallery from their personal devices.

A 2021 study by Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands found that “all galleries nowadays are using basic online digital tools, such as their own website, social media, and newsletters for promotion and visibility.”

Further, the study also claims that the pandemic “accelerated” the digitization of art galleries. “While some started transferring parts of their activities online with online talks, live streams, videos, filmed guided tours, 3D-exhibition views, and other online content formats, others used the time to polish and professionalise their online presentation,” the report said.

Image source Unsplash

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a journalism student at Ryerson University and the business and technology editor at The Eyeopener, Ryerson's largest independent newspaper.