Neila Sanz Pilar
Passion is a crucial ingredient in entrepreneurship, which is why many successful businesspeople focus on issues close to their hearts. Spanish entrepreneur Neila Sanz Pilar has brought technological innovation to the creative industries, providing an online platform for artists to flourish and interest in culture to bloom. “My interest in entrepreneurship has always been there,” she explains. “I’m an artist and a creative writer, and at the age of 16 I had this idea to publish my own novels.”
Combining creativity with technology
Neila recognised that technology could provide the perfect context for combining the entrepreneurial and creative sides of her personality. As an adult, friends and colleagues in the art world frequently complained about the absence of professional online tools for bringing content providers and customers together. Neila recognised an opportunity to address this by developing a dedicated online platform.
“I wanted to create a platform for the creative industries, which is my passion,” she says. “We were lucky, because we started with the support of a Spanish female entrepreneurship award, which really opened the door to establishing our start-up.”
The 2016 award enabled Neila and her business partner – her sister – to carry out an investigation of the market potential and to establish themselves in a business innovation centre in Bilbao. “For a year we looked at market opportunities and then set about creating software to meet this need,” she explains.
Artistic meeting place
Through her company ChallenTech InnoSolutions, Neila developed a platform called KrART. The platform acts as a meeting place for artists, art galleries, art dealers, buyers, collectors and indeed anyone with an interest in art. These people from creative and cultural industries can enter their work on the site’s catalogue, through which prospective buyers and collectors can browse. KrART is now available in 23 countries, including the US and Australia.
Another section of the platform enables people from creative and cultural industries to launch campaigns to obtain funding. The aim here to support promising artists. “Our mission is to promote the dissemination of art, creativity and talent,” says Neila. “We also aim to encourage art collection. There are a number of sides to this platform, and a key one is reinforcing the importance of art and culture in society.”
Women as tech entrepreneurs
Neila faced the kind of challenges that all start-ups tend to face – securing funding, scaling up ideas and concepts – but was also acutely aware that not many tech entrepreneurs are women. “I think when I started, the fact that I was a woman was surprising to some people,” she says. “Perhaps in the early years some people might have had an issue with their boss being female. This is why it is so important to show that women are of course capable of doing this sort of thing.”
Neila believes that while the under-representation of females in tech remains a problem, she has noted more women in the business centre. “The situation is evolving,” she says.
For Neila, identifying your passion is essential. “It is important to find out what you really want to do, and to then try and make this ambition real,” she says. “You need to be prepared to work hard but making your dreams a reality will make you happy. There is also real satisfaction in making your clients happy too.”
For Neila, work continues on building up her start-up and expanding the global reach of the platform. She also remains committed to nourishing her creative side – in 2015 she published a book of her poetry.