21 November 2019
Entrepreneurs market: where art meets tech
Olga Kravchenko (MA Arts & Cultural Management) is CEO of Musemio, an educational technology start-up she co-founded with Kaitlin Fritz. Originally from Ukraine, Olga has spent the last seven years in the UK. She tells us about studying at King’s, the King’s20 entrepreneurship programme, and bringing her first product to launch.
[This article is from the Autumn/Winter 2019 issue of InTouch, your alumni magazine]
On arts and technology
I’ve always been in love with culture. I studied Arts & Cultural Management at King’s because I wanted to understand how we could improve cultural programming to bring culture closer to people. Tech can help people to engage with culture. However, there’s a need to educate specialists in how tech can develop their collections and audiences. We’ve just launched Musemio, a virtual reality (VR) educational game that stimulates children’s curiosity in arts and culture. We introduce museum and cultural objects into a gamified VR environment alongside a series of challenges. VR improves children’s attention by 92%, so it’s not just a toy – it can also help them do better in life.
Know your audience
We interviewed more than 200 children over a year, and the way they see art is very different to what we see. When they enter a museum they understand the value but can’t necessarily connect with it. How do we explain the importance of Leonardo da Vinci to a child? To a child, the Mona Lisa is just a portrait, but when I tell them da Vinci also sketched out ideas for helicopters and bicycles hundreds of years ahead of their invention, suddenly the child thinks it’s genius.
King’s20 gave us incredible mentorship support. It helps during that difficult time when you’re trying to find out who you are in the business world, and fighting between ‘I can do everything’ and ‘I can’t do anything because I’m too small’. We also received funding, as part of the Stefan Allesch-Taylor Scholarship, to help with our product development.
We’ve been through many ups and downs, especially with financing. We’re an educational company that deals with arts and culture, so it’s not as trendy as blockchain or cryptocurrency. But we’re still closely connected to King’s, and the Entrepreneurship Institute is helping us to raise money by putting us in touch with investors. We’re eternally grateful for how they’ve helped us develop our idea and not give up.
How Musemio works
We want to make Musemio fun – we’re not trying to be a museum-related lesson, but more a museum-inspired game. The museums we spoke to told us their displays for children served to spark an interest in the past, in what art was about, or technology. For us, it’s also about sparking an interest so that the child wants to learn.
First we ask the museum to select four or five different objects from their displays, then we write stories around them and gamify it. In one of the challenges that we worked on with the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, the child is a time-traveller and ends up in Egypt. We start with some context around Egypt, how many dynasties there were, and we talk about the River Nile. A robot named Mio invites the child on a journey to find a pyramid. Once inside, they find all sorts of information about hieroglyphs and the child needs to solve a challenge by connecting the hieroglyphs to the modern Latin alphabet.
Tips for budding entrepreneurs
It’s really important to identify your passion because that’s what’s really going to drive your business growth. Most of the time, it’s not necessarily about the idea itself, it’s about whether you can show other people – the people who will go on to be your teammates, your supporters, your investors, your clients – the passion that you have inside. It won’t work if you’re just trying to make money, because, for a start, entrepreneurship is not about making money.
You need to understand that you will have a couple of years when you will sacrifice your evenings, you will sacrifice your free time. But as long as you know that you’re on a mission to deliver something great, it all pays off. So for alumni who want to realise their passion, I would recommend trying – maybe part-time first – to see if you have enough passion for it, because it’s a challenging journey. I started running my business after graduating. Now, a lot of people ask me ‘Shall I quit my job?’. So I ask them, ‘Have you written a business plan?’ and they tell me, ‘No, but I don’t have the time’. Well, if you don’t have time to do that, you’re not going to have the time to run a business.
Find out more about King’s20 from the Entrepreneurship Institute at King’s.