Full-Time MBA alumna Devika Sarin graduated in 2015. Since then, she’s gone on to be awarded a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa from Imperial and set up her social enterprise, Art of Kindness, which launches this week. In this interview, we caught up with Devika who tells us how she came up with Art of Kindness, where she sees it going in five years, and how the Full-Time MBA gave her the confidence to set up the social enterprise.
What is Art of Kindness?
Art of Kindness is a platform for artists and collectors to utilise the value of their art for social good. We enable artists and collectors to exhibit and raise funds from their art to give to social impact partner organizations. Our aim is to curate a new story for everyone involved: one that includes the artist or collector, the art work, the community that benefits, and the art-loving crowd.
How did you come up with Art of Kindness?
I have a background in finance, and a passion for social impact and finding ways to bring people together so everyone can benefit. My family loves art and my father works in the space. There is so much value in art (both tangible and intangible) that is not being utilised. Art of Kindness was born as a way to connect artists and art owners with social programs which are creating impact around the world. Right now, our social impact partners are Acumen, Project Pressure, Elephant Family, charity: water and Micrograam.
On top of that, Art of Kindness is a way for artists to share their art and tell a new art story for everyone involved. We believe art can be more than something beautiful that hangs on your wall. It can be a way to build your legacy of doing good and inviting others to experience this with you.
What’s next for Art of Kindness?
We have just launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to fund our first exhibition in London this autumn. We are going to showcase an exciting group of contemporary artists, patrons, and partner non-profit organizations and how they are all coming together to exhibit kindness. A lot of what we are working on is under wraps and we look forward to unveiling more at the event. You can find out more on our Indiegogo crowdfunding page.
What’s your proudest achievement with Art of Kindness so far?
There have been so many amazing moments and I’ve worked with so many inspiring people and partners that it’s hard to pick just one. Receiving the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa from Imperial College is definitely one that sticks out! Taking Art of Kindness from an idea to a business has been a difficult but rewarding journey and I look forward to the next milestone.
What do you hope to achieve with Art of Kindness in 5 years?
The vision is for Art of Kindness to be a marketplace for people to get involved in a space that celebrates art, storytelling, and doing good together. We are a business, underpinned by technology, so I want it to be a sustainable platform that impacts the lives of many and enables us to experience art in a completely different way. If we can use the history of art to tell a story about human possibility and future impact, then we have a chance to change the way we perceive art and how we value it.
Art of Kindness is a new marketplace that utilises the value of art to impact the lives of millions of people in need.
How did studying the Full-Time MBA at Imperial help you to set up your own business?
The Full-Time MBA programme gave me the confidence to set up Art of Kindness. We had the time to work on our own strengths and weaknesses as leaders and managers, and the electives gave me additional opportunities to explore entrepreneurship and innovation. For example, on the Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Design Project we worked in teams to bring a concept to market, build a business plan and pitch it to investors. On the Individual Project (Perspectives in Practice), I tested the business case of Art of Kindness and explored ways to bring the idea to fruition.
What were the highlights of the Full-Time MBA programme at Imperial?
The highlight for me was being part of such a diverse group of people. You really learn about yourself and how to work with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and points of view. Diversity of thought is critical to approach solutions to problems in work and life.
Before the start of the programme, we had the 360 Business Challenge where we came up with a product to sell on campus. It was a great crash course in business development, marketing and sales. In addition, we went abroad for Global Experience Week where we spent time in different cultural settings learning about different business practices and local business trends.
What do you miss most about studying at Imperial?
The camaraderie of being involved in this journey with others and knowing that we all were working towards similar goals, personal and professional.
What were the benefits of living in London whilst studying your Full-Time MBA?
London is an amazing city that gives you access to a unique network of friends, colleagues, and supporters. Being in the centre of the city, we were able to attend conferences, visit companies and hear from business leaders to get an inside view of how things work in different industries. London is a cultural hub as well as a growing centre for entrepreneurship and financial technology. There is always an interesting event to engage with something you are passionate about. I was able to build a London network, in addition to my Imperial network, to expand my knowledge base in art, philanthropy and technology, which played an important part in setting up Art of Kindness.