Innovators | March 2012



Artaic – Innovative Mosaic

Company Profile

Business: Artaic – Innovative Mosaic
Founded: 2007
Location: Boston, MA
Company Size: 10
Co-Founders Ted Acworth and Paul Reiss
Twitter: @artaic
Facebook: Facebook/ArtaicMosaics

See Artaic featured in American Way magazine


The Artaic team, (left to right) Blake Goodwin, Sarah Pierce, Ted Acworth, Paul Reiss, and Charlotte McFarland

Ancient Art Form Meets Modern Technology

What sparks a genius idea? In the case of the Boston-based company Artaic, it was the founder and CEO's trip to Europe. Enamored by the ancient mosaic work he saw at several sites there, Ted Acworth was inspired to develop a method of robotic fabrication that would allow these artistic creations, which previously took a lot of time and money, to be manufactured both more quickly and affordably. The robotic technology was developed along with unique design software that enables Artaic to push the boundaries of what is creatively, architecturally and technically possible with tile.

Give us the rundown, what does your business offer?

Acworth: Artaic designs and fabricates custom mosaics. We develop unique software and robotic manufacturing tools to assist the creation of glass, porcelain, and stone tile artworks.

Reiss: and push the boundaries of what's creatively possible. With the software, Artaic designs the mosaics directly from a photograph, digital image, artwork, or fabric swatch. Artaic's talented design team can even create custom imagery to fit a given space and surface. Artaic designers work with clients to select the ideal material, colors, and techniques for each mosaic project. Once the design is complete, Artaic's robotic mosaic fabrication system assembles square foot sections of the mosaic. A polymer facing is adhered to the sections. The sections are labeled for installation, packaged and shipped to the installation site where the mosaic sections are installed like any other tile products.

Acworth: But in Artaic's case, the sheets are pre fitted, and fit the surface perfectly, whatever that surface is: floor, wall, ceiling, indoors, outdoors, planar, compound. We can fit just about any surface with custom tile.

Reiss: Due to Artaic's team of quirky technologists and artists, we are consistently developing new ways in which the mosaic medium is designed and implemented. With products such as LED backlit & QR Code mosaics, Artaic continually finds interesting was to breathe new life into the ancient art form.

How did you come up with the concept for your business?

Acworth: Artaic is at the intersection of two passions: technology and design. While traveling extensively through Europe, I saw many exquisite ancient mosaics in museums and Roman archaeological sites and came to appreciate the versatility, beauty and endurance of the art form.

I recognized that modern barriers of time and cost restricted the contemporary use of mosaic. As a mechanical engineer by trade, this sparked my interest in designing a solution, realizing that Automation can make mosaic once again a realistic option for architectural integration to improve environments and lives through impactful design.

Reiss: From that base, we've sought to do things never done before with tile, to provide architects and interior designers with new and exciting tile options.

Tell us about the Artaic team.

Acworth: I founded Artaic in 2007. That same year I recruited co-founder Paul Reiss for his creativity in the visual arts. The team has since grown organically over a couple of years through the Boston entrepreneur network.

Reiss: Artaic sponsored a number of local university student projects, and hired the best as they graduated. Blake Goodwin, now Artaic's Director of Operations worked on one of these student projects while at BU, and we were lucky to have him become a major part of the team after graduation in 2008.

Acworth: I met Rob Cushman, our VP of Sales, through a personal referral into the commercial hospitality products sales market. Our team has really expanded organically as we find the most exceptional people. Polymaths really.

What is the advantage for customers to use your service and product over other design treatments?

Reiss: Mosaic is the ultimate choice for architectural surfaces due to its inherent durability, sustainability, extensive applications and design capabilities. Yet historically, creating mosaic has been an expensive manual process, characterized by long lead times with disjoint and complex processes for both design and fabrication.

Acworth: Artaic's technologies enable effective off-site design and manufacture of custom mosaic installations. The unique CAD software enables efficient and accurate design, while the robot fabricates a square foot in 12 minutes vs. 2 hours by traditional methods. These tools add up to higher quality product, more design freedom, fast turnaround times and lower costs.

How do you attract new customers?

Acworth: Artaic's lead marketing strategy is to target technologically innovative architecture and interior design firms in the commercial "hospitality" segment, and then support their creative ideas face-to-face through our knowledgeable sales rep team.

Reiss: To help support our sales team, we've focused on creating a rich set of digital materials and establishing a strong digital presence through the Artaic website, blog, and social media – to capture inbound leads.

Where do you market your services?

Acworth: Boston, US and Globally. Artaic is located in Boston, MA and is concentrating on marketing and sales in the US. In particular, our rep team covers territory around major hubs including: Atlanta, GA, Boston, MA, Chicago, IL, Dallas, TX, Las Vegas, NV, Los Angeles, CA, New York, NY, Miami and Orlando, FL, and Washington, DC. We've shipped projects internationally. Recently we even completed an installation in Turkey, the birthplace of mosaic.

Do you have plans to expand to other markets?

Acworth: Yes. Middle East, Asia, China, India, Brazil, Europe. Middle East, Asia, India, Brazil are fast growing markets for commercial construction. Europe is the cradle of the mosaic art form.

Tell us about your experience as a MassChallenge winner.

Acworth: MassChallenge has been a huge benefit to Artaic and to the Boston entrepreneurship ecosystem as a whole. MassChallenge has helped Artaic expand our network, access valuable resources, and win tremendous exposure. Not to mention winning 10,000 Business ExtrAA points and a $50,000 cash prize!

It sounds like the prizes Artaic received as a MassChallenge winner has made quite an impact on the business. Have you taken advantage of the 10,000 Business ExtrAA points awarded to you by American?

Acworth: We've put together a great team of sales reps across the US who have been pulling in projects for us for the last couple of years - yet we haven't had the chance to get them into Boston to see firsthand our studio and our robotic production systems. Therefore, thanks to our Business ExtrAA points we are able hold our first national sales representative meeting here in Boston. It's a great opportunity for us to develop a stronger connection to our reps on the front-line. We're doing this two weeks before the largest annual conference for our market, so that our reps will be equipped and fired up to promote us at this important conference.

Reiss: We are planning the meeting for the end of April - when our team can experience the beauty of Boston in the spring - especially since many of them haven't been to Boston before. We want to make the trip more than a "business trip" and give our team a chance to explore the city out of which our company grew - with things such as a Harpoon Brewery tour – whose beer has been integral to Artaic's success.

What is the hardest part about being a startup in today's economy?

Reiss: Our #1 challenge is getting the word out about this "NEW" design option. Even though mosaic art has been around for over 3000 years, it has become relatively obsolete in contemporary architecture and design due to the modern constraints of cost and lead-time.

Acworth: We need to raise awareness with interior designers and architects about our revitalization of mosaic. Having them recognize that mosaic is once again a high-impact architectural surface finishing option.

Reiss: For example, every time we get to present at an architecture firm we get a "this is incredible", and "we want to use this in our next project." Artaic's challenge is to get more people see the cool, cutting-edge products and tools we are making doing and recognize how they can implement them.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to start a new business?

Acworth: I'm a tech entrepreneur, so I tend to start with an idea for a new technology and then develop it for a market. It's so important to develop both hand-in-hand. You have to know your market inside out, preferably having worked in the market for 5-10 years. Or get someone on your team ASAP who has.

What are your goals for Bespoke Post over the next few years?

Reiss: In the next year, our goal is to get the opportunity to collaborate with some of the world's most innovative and creative architects and designers – with whom we can develop groundbreaking mosaic works that blend seamlessly with their architectural vision.

Acworth: Five years from now our goal is to be THE globally recognized brand for solving the technical and creative problems involved in designing and fabricating highly artistic mosaic projects that blur the lines between technology, art, and architecture.

What are others saying about Artaic?

"The Boston area is an international educational center which attracts extremely talented people from around the world. Ted Acworth, founder and CEO of Artaic, is both an entrepreneur who is engaged with his community and a beer lover. One of the founding principles of Harpoon was to be a good neighbor. The brewery and Artaic are located within a five minute walk, so it was inevitable that we'd meet Ted."
Charles Storey, Senior Vice President of Marketing
Harpoon Brewery, Boston, MA

"It's amazing to see the team progress in such a short amount of time since entering the MassChallenge accelerator. Artaic is truly in a position for massive growth and expansion."
Scott Bailey, Director of Partnerships
MassChallenge, Boston, MA

"We were nearing an imposing grand opening deadline for MIT Koch Center without a solution for the main entryway floor. Our plan was to create a 'portal' that produced a palpable transition to the working Institute. The design would not be complete without the mosaic element. We eventually learned about Artaic, and in the waning hours of the project, they were to help save our vision for the space with their technologies - completing the mosaic in time for the grand opening."
James Biber
Biber Architects, New York, NY

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