Eric MonteilART & DESIGN CONSULTANT (SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER)
Eric is an enthusiastic creative French entrepreneur, photographer, art consultant, curator, founder and managing director of Art Consulting Thailand (a company accredited by the Board of Investment of Thailand). Since opening his first art gallery in Bangkok (Rock Around Asia) in 2011, Eric has constantly been working on bringing a new vision to setup an efficient art market in Thailand to reality, by initiating an industry paradigm shift through new technologies, launching Silapix.com, the first professional social network marketplace to connect Thai artists with worldwide organizations for business purpose. Bringing a new value proposal to the conservative art market in Thailand is quite challenging as there is no support of any kind. VC’s and private investors need reliable market track records to invest, and Thai government does not consider this industry as a proper one. His passion for art and interior decoration has been constant for many years. Eric realized he could launch a business in this field during 2010 whilst he spent seven months travelling on a motorcycle throughout Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore). On his journey, he met numerous talented local artists and craftsmen who were struggling to sell their art and make a living. This is when and how the idea of Rock Around Asia Art Gallery was born, forming the beginning of Art Consulting Thailand, Silapix.com and Silapix Contemporary Art Space, a long amazing and enthralling story to tell. Eric’s proven business sense creates added value converting an idea into a product/service to make it successful in a market. He has always worked as an innovator in various industries (cosmetics, finance, aerial sports, and IT). Eric studied in France, graduated in chemistry and physics, and later with an Executive MBA. He is also passionate about the history of art, design, architecture, museums, interior design and decoration, politics, history, literature, music and cinema. Eric has an extensive knowledge about Thai culture and history, he designed museums tours in Bangkok for Asian Trails, aiming to tell foreigners about the great history of Thailand and to explain the evolution of Thai society since the reforms of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). Eric is also an instructor in hang-gliding, paragliding, microlight aircraft and paramotor.
Asian Tech Stories – Episode 24
Interview by Michael I. Waitze
Eric Monteil is originally from France and has lived in Bangkok, Thailand for precisely eight years. He is the founder of Art Consulting Thailand through which he is developing his newest and most ambitious venture called Silapix. Eric studied Chemistry and Physics at University and thought that what he was building was far away from his studies…but we both realized that Silapix was like a marriage of Math, Science and Art. His first job was working in a lab for L’Oreal. However, his real passion was for hang gliding, para-gliding and micro-light aircraft. After 8 years at L’Oreal, he decided to venture out on his own and he set up an air sports school…I thought it was interesting that his first attempt at business freedom including flying…something directly associated with being and feeling free. He did that for 5 years, got an MBA and then started another company with friends…dealing with and aggregating media and press online. When I find out someone has started multiple companies, I always want to know if entrepreneurship was something they grew up with or if they broke a mold and released something that had been brewing inside them. In Eric’s case it was the latter. None of his family was ‘in business’, but he created outlets for himself by finding market gaps and creating businesses to serve them. Eric sold his second company in 2010 and when I asked him how he ended up in Thailand…he sighed. He then started telling me one of the most interesting company founding stories I have heard in a while. In a way, I think it is emblematic of most founders. They are burned out and want to take some time off and get away. Yet, they find that soon after they start their extended vacation, the can not stop their brains from analyzing their new surroundings and seeing more market gaps. They simply can not turn off… Every journey has a definitive start…planned or not. The real beginning of Eric’s trip started with the purchase of a motor bike in Hanoi. He travelled through Cambodia, Laos. Indonesia and Thailand…and after a month of ‘testing’ decided to stay in Thailand. He explains that Thailand is geographically central with easy access to two airports, convenient to get to other countries and source art and a great place to do business. I wholeheartedly agree…:-) Eric’s idea resonated with me…he wanted to give artists an opportunity to tell their stories and give them exposure to the rest of the world. The concept was based on the idea that if you wanted to buy art, you have to have a specific relationship with the artist. This was the beginnings of the idea for Silapix. The large ambition is to create a platform that directly connects artists worldwide to organizations that need art to enhance their environments.