In 2019, Yatin Sangwan (BS ’22) launched his custom art startup, Canvasly, while a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Within 12 months, he had grossed more than $2 million in revenue.
“I was always fascinated by the idea of doing everything on your computer, like running a company or building something. I came across a lot of artists on these freelance websites. And I thought, hey, why not? I could get them on board and do something custom, something personalized, instead of selling a single product.”
Canvasly was fully online: customers would send in a photo of themselves, and one of the company’s100 independent artists would draw them in the style of their favorite cartoon, such as the Simpsons or a Disney character. It also coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant people were stuck indoors, eager for entertainment and positive distractions. Not only was the advertising model 100% digital, but Yatin was able to test his product during the Christmas holiday season.