In April of 2007, my friend Raul approached me about a side project. It was about the art world, he said, and if it worked, it would be fun. He introduced me to Jen Bekman, and they agreed that building this thing was both possible and exciting. Five months later, we launched 20×200.
There’s nothing I love more than a small business with a mission, and we have a great one: “Art for Everyone”. That sounds both happy and easy, but it’s not, because collecting art can feel intimidating, extravagant, and confusing—but it’s not. Our job is to stand with people at that cliff, give them a really good harness, and (very gently) get them to jump. You teach people to feel confident as they grow; to push back at voices (real or imagined) that question their decisions and tastes; to live with a work of art instead of looking at it—not five seconds, five decades. Five years.
Today is my last day at 20×200. I’ve worked at a few young/small/startup businesses, and I can say I’ve both given and received more here than at any job I’ve ever held. It’s been thrilling, overwhelming, intense, and gratifying; five years later, I’m a different person. I’ve learned a ton, worked with some amazing folks, helped some artists make a living (in many cases, by buying their work myself—much of which I’m taking home today), christened thousands of new art collectors, and had an amazing ride. I had no idea what 20×200 would become, but Raul really pinned it over dinner that night—it has been so much fun.
The culture of startups is overflowing with mythical personae of pirates and ninjas, but I’m not a pirate—I’m an evangelist and a plumber. I love building things that help people grow—preferably in ways I need to grow. Building 20×200 with this team has taught me more than I’d ever thought I needed to know about how products and companies work, and I’m grateful to Jen and the extended 20×200 crew for teaching me; I hope to make them proud as I move on to build a new company—and a new product—that suits this particular evangelist plumber.
What I’ve tried to teach collectors and coworkers here, I’ve ended up learning myself: confidence, taste, persistence, how to stand at the edge of a cliff and check your harness. I can’t wait—I’m thrilled—to jump.