Emily Lutzker, Artist and Entrepreneur

There are many things I liked about Emily Lutzker besides her interesting career path that led her to do a start-up but what I truly love is that she is and will always be an artist. 

Emily began her artistic journey, as most do, through education.  She got her BFA at the School of Visual Arts in NYC and her next stop was at the New School where she got a degree in Media Arts.  Continuing on to graduate school in Saas-Fee Switzerland where she got a PhD in Media and Communication at the European Graduate School.

As Emily explained to me, trying to fund your life (not necessarily lifestyle but just life) as an artist is not easy.  There are odd jobs along the way just to make rent while practicing your passion. She worked in the film business, helped produce videos for the web even sometimes took a job as a stylist just so she could support her artwork life.  Eventually she ended up taking a job as a teacher at the New School in the New Media Studies Program.

Her work was being shown at galleries all over the world from NYC to Minneapolis to Miami to Tel Aviv, which was definitely satisfying but it will still hard to make ends meet.  After the New School, she was offered a job teaching at Beit Berl College in Israel in the New Media and Games Development department.  Seemed like a great opportunity to spend a few years in Israel and off she went. 

It was in Israel where she met Eyal Fried, the co-founder of OpenInvo.  Both Emily and Eyal had so many interesting ideas but that certainly wasn’t paying the rent and one day Eyal said to Emily, “let’s make a business selling ideas”.  That was two years ago and OpenInvo launched this past September. 

OpenInvo is a site where you can enter your ideas.  Everyone has a good idea but at the end of the day it is all about execution.  Artists in particular have lots of interesting ideas.  Once you enter your idea, OpenInvo decides if your idea is worthwhile and accepts it based on what they deem to be a saleable.  It is free to enter your ideas into the system and you can enter as many as you like.  What you hope will happen is that somebody will buy or even license your idea.  That is why it took two years to launch.  A company, such as Proctor and Gamble, would pay OpenInvo an annual fee for the ability for ten people in P&G to spend time on the site over a course of a year to look for ideas.  If they come upon an idea that they thought was viable for their company then that is when things become interesting.  Contracts have to be drawn up; lawyers have to be involved, etc..  It took time to build the site, flush out the idea, raise money from friends and family and make sure that all the legal ducks were in a row. OpenInvo takes a small piece of this transaction. 

The smartest idea was OpenInvo.  An aggregation of ideas from people all over the world for companies or people (no reason that a person couldn’t pay the annual fee) to find and bring to market.  Some people have great ideas but they don’t have the ability to execute on them by themselves or have any interest in it.  Entrepreneurs are a rare breed and it isn’t just about the idea.  

In reality, Emily has always been an entrepreneur through her art.  Her life has definitely not been a straight line.  Finding a way to support her art through a variety of interesting jobs made her think differently about how she could possibly sell her ideas in order to continue to support her art.  Instead, she took that big idea and created a place for anyone to post their ideas and sell them to the rest of the world.  She may be an artist at heart but currently she is in love with her business and being an entrepreneur. 

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