We are disrupting the way art is experienced. We want to shake up the art world and increase accessibility. Traditionally, the art world has been very exclusive, in terms of who can buy art, but also who can sell art. We want to unlock art. It is not fair that such a small percentage of people have access to something so important, influential, and impactful.
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Josh Sach.
Josh Sach is an entrepreneur redefining the intersection of art and technology. As founder & CEO of Hangable, he has led a team developing a platform to revolutionize the way art is experienced. Hangable utilizes augmented and virtual reality to make art more accessible. Josh’s expertise in the tech sphere allows him to address the art world in a way that hasn’t been addressed before.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Both of my parents were born in Iran and immigrated to the U.S. teenagers. My father was basically homeless until a Jewish family in Brooklyn picked him up off the street, and taught him how to run a business (which he still owns and operates to this day). Growing up, watching him grow his business, and working with him is where I got my entrepreneurial bone. I have always been interested in art and technology. My girlfriend’s sister, Jill, went to an art school and the idea for Hangable was born when I attended her graduation. Instead of writing a thesis, students created a giant mural, we’re talking 10’x 10’. I asked Jill what people did with the murals after they graduated. She told me they were too hard to sell and too big to transport, so they were “donated” to the school. This is art people have spent countless hours on, but no one can see it or experience it. That night, I did some more digging into the logistics of the art world. I was shocked to find that on average, more than 90% of the art a museum has is not being displayed, but is instead collecting dust somewhere in storage. Thus, Hangable was born as a way to make art more accessible through emerging technologies such as AR and VR.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
We are disrupting the way art is experienced. We want to shake up the art world and increase accessibility. Traditionally, the art world has been very exclusive, in terms of who can buy art, but also who can sell art. We want to unlock art. It is not fair that such a small percentage of people have access to something so important, influential, and impactful. I have a degree in Chemistry and have taken MBA classes, but sometimes I look at art and just can’t understand it. How do we decide the value of art? A lot of the value comes from the backstory and history. Who the artist is, and what the story is. For example, maybe the red on canvas was painted out of blood, or that black square on the wall was meant to defy something. A majority of art’s importance, aside from aesthetic beauty, comes from the story, and I don’t think there was a clear way for the public to experience that till Hangable.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I was interviewing people for the CTO position, I found the perfect candidate. He went to one of the top engineering schools and was incredibly qualified. I was about to hire him, but when I ran a last-minute background check, the elite university had no record of him. It turned out that he had lied on his resume, not just about his education, but his work experience as well. When I confronted him about it, he threatened legal action! This interaction taught me a valuable lesson. I have learned to keep my guard up and always run background checks early on!
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
One of my mentors is M. Adler. He was telling me a little about his life and explained that instead of getting some money for Hanukkah or his birthday, he would get a piece of art. His friends would get toy cars and he would get original photographs, which are now very valuable. He has made a huge impact on me. When Covid-19 came around, I called him up and he told me that these museums, galleries, and art institutions are going to desperately need some digital alternative and now. That day, I hung up the phone, called 20 galleries in Atlanta, an overwhelming majority of them were interested in hearing what we were offering.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
Disrupting an industry means making it more efficient and more accessible. Changing the way people operate with things in their everyday lives, and making those things easier, is great. That is exactly what Hangable is doing. Traditionally, if you want to try out a piece of art in your house before you purchase it, you would have the piece of art shipped to your house, it would need to be insured, there would be paperwork and legal documents. It is a tedious process that takes weeks to complete. We are disrupting that entire process by implementing cutting-edge technology.
That being said, I believe that nothing will compare to seeing art in person. Art has “withstood the test of time.” But, seeing art in person is not always possible, especially now, so we provide the next best alternative.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
“Make sure to pivot.”
Be flexible and open to change. Marry a set of core values, as opposed to features or ideas.
“Listen to customers.”
At the end of the day, every business boils down to providing solutions for your customer. You need to be customer-focused to succeed as a business and solve the problems they need to solve.
You can’t predict what is going to be thrown at you. You just need to be sure to do everything you can to let your business succeed and survive, whether that’s a bar in NYC that can no longer host patrons inside creating a to-go station, or in our case, shifting from an artist-to-buyer platform to an institution-to-buyer platform.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
I want to continue using technology to give people digital alternatives and provide them with VR/AR solutions. I plan to tackle larger institutions, large-scale museums and art fairs. Our team has a long road ahead of us!
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
‘Gam zu l’tova,’ which translates to ‘this is also for the good.’ Even though at the moment, it may not appear to be a step in the right direction, everything happens for a reason. A great example of this is when that CTO didn’t pass his background check. I was so upset in the moment, but shortly after, I met Chirag, our current CTO, who is 20 times more competent, kind, and qualified.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I believe that if everyone lived by the saying, “treat others the way you want to be treated,” the world would be a much better place, in all aspects.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Thank you for interviewing me!