Tekuma: Art Needs Space. Space Needs Art.

Tekuma, a startup out of MIT’s Master of Architecture and Real Estate Development program, is turning any space into an art gallery.

Rough Draft Ventures is excited to announce our support of Marwan Aboudib and Kun Qian of Tekuma, an innovative art curation platform that connects artists with less conventional spaces like Airbnbs and lobbies of residential buildings. Tekuma not only enhances the aesthetic value of these spaces, but boosts their real estate value as well.

Airbnb hosts simply upload their property to the Tekuma site and Tekuma matches the space with local art. Since hosts have already done the legwork of uploading photos and unit details to Airbnb, Tekuma works directly off their Airbnb profiles. Currently, Tekuma is only working with hosts that manage multiple properties. They plan to roll out a consumer-facing interface in the coming year.

Tekuma’s online curation platform

In a similar spirit to that of Airbnb, Tekuma immerses travelers in the local community by displaying work by local artists (including another RDV portfolio founder, s/o Alessandro of Humon) as well as non-profit organizations like Art Lifting, which empowers artists living with homelessness or disability through the sale of their artwork, and Roots Studio, which does similar work with indigenous Indian artists.

Tekuma was founded on a simple thesis: Space adds value to art, art adds value to space.

That first notion is pretty intuitive: Wall space is hard to come by in the art industry. By connecting artists with wall space, artists gain exposure, which can convert to sales. They’re also rolling out a QR purchase code which will enable travelers to purchase pieces directly off the wall. This innovative sales channel is attractive for artists, especially since travelers are some of their biggest customers.

That second notion, however, that art adds value to space, is where things get really compelling. In addition to its decorative value, art actually drives up the monetary value of a space, too. That means Airbnb hosts and property managers can actually earn more by curating their spaces through Tekuma.

To validate this thesis, Tekuma rented two otherwise identical apartments, curated one and not the other, and listed them on Airbnb. The results are powerful:

The curated apartment had 3x the amount of bookings over a 6-week period. Then, they raised the price of the curated apartment by 15%. The apartment still had a 10% higher booking rate.

Since Tekuma’s launch in Boston this summer, the startup has landed 100 Airbnbs and counting. Check out some of the spaces they’ve curated here.

Marwan and Kun just graduated from MIT’s Graduate School of Architecture and are now working Tekuma full time. When we first met Tekuma back in spring, they were a team of three working out of an Airbnb they managed (appropriately). Since then, they’ve grown the team to 8 employees including recent grads from Harvard, MIT, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, and McGill University.

Tekuma’s Airbnb office. The downstairs functions as the team’s office and the upstairs is listed as a “private room” Airbnb for travelers.

To learn more about Tekuma, visit Tekuma.io. Stay tuned for updates!

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