As the phygital home for visual art, Kaleido merges physical artwork with interactive digital experiences to transform the way art is shared, owned, and experienced.

Kaleido is on a mission to build a true home for art on the internet - a place where every artist in the world shares their art, finds community, and generates income. Here, we interview Ian Panchèvre, Kaleido's founder, to learn more about his innovative art tech platform.
Founder Kaleido
Ian is an experienced entrepreneur who has previously founded and operated four other technology startups. Ian is also an advanced technologist. From 2016 - 2018, he helped lead Intuit's blockchain R&D effort as a product manager in Intuit Futures. His early inspiration for Kaleido came in 2018, while he was traveling Europe and collecting art. Ian has a Bachelors from Yale and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
- What is Kaleido?
- Kaleido is the phygital home for visual art. We use the term "phygital" because Kaleido fuses physical artwork with interactive digital experiences. Specifically, Kaleido combines augmented reality and social media to transform how art is shared, owned, and experienced.

Kaleido is quite inventive, so it's best that you experience Kaleido for yourself. I invite you to visit www.kaleido.art and create an account, or download the Kaleido AR mobile app on iPhone or Android.
- What is Kaleido's mission? Why are you building Kaleido?
- Kaleido's mission is to create a vibrant online home for the visual arts, where all artists can share their work, find community, and generate income. Despite the internet's age, there is still no platform equivalent to YouTube or Spotify for the visual arts - a gap we strive to fill.

To our frustration, experiencing art content online remains underwhelming. Art marketplaces, social platforms, and portfolio websites all do a poor job of presenting artwork and transmitting its essence. Moreover, existing SaaS products oftentimes want in design or functionality.

We believe the visual arts deserve more from technology. Our motivation stems from a conviction that producing and consuming art is central to the human experience, and as a technological species with an appreciation for aesthetics, we can and must build a more impactful platform for the visual arts.
- How is Kaleido different from other online art communities? What problems does it solve?
- Kaleido began its product journey by tackling a fundamental challenge: how can we best experience visual art online? Conventional web platforms struggle to present art in a compelling way, which leaves visitors uninspired and disconnected. Experiencing art online feels broken, and this oversight is a massive blind spot by the Art Tech incumbents.

Solving this problem requires superior product design, yes, and also an understanding that the substance of an artwork transcends its aesthetic qualities. Afterall, an artwork is much more than a physical object. The stories behind the art matter just as much, if not more. The artist's biography, their unique methodology and artistic message, the way their work taps into the cultural zeitgeist of its time... These narratives make art interesting and emotionally resonant.

Kaleido embraces storytelling by empowering artists to share a variety of multimedia content. For example, artists can record audio narrations that detail their creative journey. People can listen to these audio stories while browsing art on the web or while standing in the presence of the physical artwork. Simply open the Kaleido AR mobile app, scan the artwork, and its digital content appears in front of you in augmented reality.

An audio guide for every artist, available with each artwork! That's a powerful vision because integrated storytelling across physical and digital environments allows people to connect more deeply to the art and its creator. Also, storytelling forges authentic social connections and powers community. Storytelling is how social happens, and why phygital is exciting.

Kaleido isn't merely another marketplace or social platform for the arts. Kaleido thoughtfully incorporates advanced technologies and storytelling content to elevate artwork across digital environments. And Kaleido is ambitious. Kaleido is innovating at a system level by solving multiple problems concurrently.
- What kind of traction does Kaleido have so far?
- Kaleido is still operating in beta and has not yet formally launched. Nonetheless, over 20,000 artists from 140 different countries have already joined.We're also seeing steady improvement in core engagement and retention metrics. Anecdotally, we know that Kaleido has a committed base of artists that really love the product; they appreciate what we have built and are excited by the vision. There's still a lot more we want to accomplish, but Kaleido is off to an auspicious start.
- What is your background and what inspired you to build Kaleido?
- I am an experienced tech entrepreneur, an advanced technologist, and an art collector. From 2015 - 2018, I worked at Intuit as a product manager. Intuit has a strong PM culture that celebrates customer empathy and design thinking methodology, so it's a wonderful place to learn the craft of product management. Incidentally, when I joined, I was one of the few people who understood blockchain technology (while at Yale, I wrote my 100-page college thesis on Bitcoin). Before long, I found myself in the Innovation and Advanced Technologies group (now Intuit Futures) helping manage Intuit's blockchain R&D effort. To be surrounded by advanced technologists on a daily basis was an amazing experience. I learned from my colleagues how to critically study new technologies and strategize about their commercialization. That thinking absolutely has come through in Kaleido.

In terms of my passion for the arts, I was raised with an appreciation for fine art because my parents dabbled in art collecting. In 2018, I started collecting myself, mostly paintings by European artists. At that point, I began studying the industry, initially as a curiosity, but I was never able to shake off my fascination with the art market. I just had so many ideas in terms of how advanced technologies could impact the space. In 2019, while I was pursuing my MBA at Stanford, I began to prototype Kaleido as an early exploration with AR. However, I abandoned the effort after about 6 months. My sense was that Kaleido was too technologically ambitious for an industry that has oftentimes resisted new technologies.

My thinking changed in early 2021 when the NFT boom started up. Suddenly there was all this interest in "art tech." I thought that although Kaleido was probably early in 2019, now was perhaps a better time to pursue this vision. So I teamed up with Cesar Biojo, a talented artist based in Spain, who is not only a friend but also an artist whose work I have collected, and we resurrected Kaleido. As an artist, Cesar has been an important contributor because he champions the interest of the artist from a position of profound user empathy.
- We are living through an era of rapid technological change. How will Kaleido be a part of that?
- It's an exciting time, no doubt. We're witnessing concurrent revolutions across multiple digital technologies. And the pace of innovation is accelerating at an astonishing rate! Artificial intelligence will have the most significant societal and economic impacts, but extended reality technologies and digital assets via blockchains will also continue to progress and find their place in the broader Technium.

As a young art collector fresh out of an advanced technology R&D lab, I was quick to note that artists were already experimenting with AR/VR, Crypto/NFTs, and Generative AI. Of course, this observation shouldn't have been surprising. Historically, artists have been some of the first people to incorporate new technologies into their practice, whether it be photographic film, plastics, or neon and LED lights. Now, the technologies of our time are predominantly digital, which means that they require a digital distribution channel. So one can imagine how in this environment of technological upheaval, a platform like Kaleido will emerge.

We've just scratched the surface in terms of how AI, XR, and blockchain will transform the way art is produced and consumed, not to mention the fabric of the art market itself. I can't wait to see where things go, and hopefully to play a part in how consumers experience art through such technological media.
- Speaking of blockchain, how does this technology fit into Kaleido's vision? What role will Tezos play?
- Blockchain is a fascinating and frustrating technology, all at once.

The technology is fascinating because of its unique architectural properties that allow a decentralized computing network to securely store and exchange ownership claims to digital assets. It's frustrating because, despite its promise, the technology hasn't delivered much in terms of mainstream consumer benefits. Most of the innovation has been in service of a virtual casino of token speculation and profiteering. That culture of grift, along with well-known performance limitations and usability issues, have prevented blockchain-based product offerings from breaking through.

Despite this criticism, I do believe there is a place for digital scarcity on the internet, and that blockchain technologies will gradually become more performant and usable. But what will it take to build a mainstream, breakthrough success?

My intuition is that such a product won't actually start as a blockchain-first offering. Rather, the objective should be to solve real problems and capture true product-market fit first, and then gradually introduce blockchain functionality in a way that's purposeful and genuine. You have to be honest about the strengths and weaknesses of a blockchain, and design an experience that respects the technology's unique innovation profile. You can't chase a buzzword. You have to build with intellectual clarity and intent.

Fortunately, we now have a clear vision for how blockchain technology can add value to Kaleido's ecosystem. And as a product, Kaleido is stable enough to start layering in these experiences. We will begin by introducing basic NFT functionality that serves Kaleido's phygital value proposition. There's a roadmap here, for sure, and we expect Kaleido will accomplish some very exciting things with blockchain technology in the coming months and years. But for now, we are still at the beginning of this journey.
- What made you want to participate in the Fuelarts x Tezos Accelerator?
- I am not an industry insider. I am a young art collector who appreciates fine art, and sincerely wants to help visual artists around the world. But I don't have the connections or the insider context that a Christie's or Gagosian alumnus has. On some level, this shortcoming is good because I can see things from a fresh perspective. I'm not beholden to the industry's incumbent logic. However, it's a downside to the extent that I don't have a particularly relevant professional network. I'm also always asking myself if I'm "missing something" in terms of how specific industry stakeholders operate.

Fuelarts x Tezos was very appealing because it promised a community of industry insiders and Art Tech professionals. That very much turned out to be the case. The extended Fuelarts and Tezos teams have been fantastically supportive and instructive.

This is actually Kaleido's third accelerator. The first was an academic program at Stanford. The second was Launch House, which is now defunct. I am happy to say that Fuelarts x Tezos has been the most impactful acceleration event for Kaleido thus far.
- Last question: why is it called Kaleido?
- The inspiration came from a kaleidoscope, which reflects light to distort reality and produce beautiful patterns and colors. Given Kaleido's augmented reality offerings, it seemed like a fun and appropriate name.

Later on, I learned the word's Greek etymology: "Kalos" means beautiful and "eidos" means shape or form. Considering our vision for a tech platform that celebrates the beauty and diversity of all visual art forms, the name felt even more perfect.

Also, we're pleased with www.kaleido.art as our web domain @Kaleido as our Instagram account.