Storefront, the online marketplace for short-term retail spaces, announced today that it has secured $1.6 million in seed funding from Mohr Davidow Ventures, Great Oaks VC, 500 Startups, David Tisch’s Box Group, Sand Hill Angels, and other industry-relevant angels. The company will use the investment to expand to new markets, the first being New York City.
Storefront’s platform solves the core problems many businesses face when opening physical retail stores – from searching for space, to finding insurance and signing contracts, to securing the right fixtures, staff and signage needed to set up a store. At the same time, Storefront helps space owners, commercial brokers, and shopping malls market their retail spaces to potential tenants for short-term use.
With a national average of 10% vacancy rates for retail space in the United States today — representing nearly $20 billion in lost rent annually — there remains a significant amount of unused capacity in commercial real estate. Storefront is fixing this by organizing and listing spaces that are available for short-term use, empowering anyone to open an offline store. This helps ensure maximum occupancy for space owners while allowing businesses to promote their brand and test new markets.
In six months, Storefront has listed over 3 million square feet of retail space at thestorefront.com, and helped over 100 large and local brands open pop-up shops in San Francisco. Many of the leading malls and brokers, including Westfield, Simon, GGP, Colliers International, Cushman & Wakefield, Jones Lang LaSalle, and CBRE are working with Storefront to list their space and find quality tenants.
With its recent launch in New York City, Storefront now offers anything from a luxury Soho store, to a spot in Grand Central Terminal, to a space in The Roger Smith hotel lobby, enabling customers to find a unique space whatever their requirements. On thestorefront.com, a potential tenant can inquire about renting a retail space live on the site and directly contact the space owner or commercial broker.
“It’s incredibly easy to start an online store today, but opening an offline store is still very difficult. Storefront is reducing the friction points of offline retail and makes opening an offline store as easy as opening an online store,” says Erik Eliason, Co-founder and CEO of Storefront. “If you make something easier, more people will do it. Just as Etsy has empowered hundreds of thousands of sellers to open an ecommerce store, Storefront is doing the same for offline.”
Scott Hartley, a Partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures, says, “Storefront layers a marketplace on top of vacant commercial real estate and allows online-first merchants to target and A/B test offline stores in new locations. This allows them to test and target new demographics and grow their business more efficiently.”
“Online and offline retail are converging. Many ecommerce companies, including some in our portfolio such as Bonobos, ModCloth, and Joor have opened brick and mortar stores and see it as a key channel for growth” mentioned Ben Lin, Managing Partner at Great Oaks Venture Capital.
The success of Nooworks, a full lifestyle brand of apparel and accessories, which is 100% American made using ethically sourced materials from California, boosted holiday sales with a 10-day pop-up shop at Westfield San Francisco Centre is just one example of how Storefront is enabling businesses to move beyond their existing markets and test new concepts. Nooworks saw a 30% increase in holiday season revenues, introducing their brand to thousands of new customers.
This is just one of many success stories made possible by the Storefront platform that is breathing new life into underutilized spaces and shaping a retail future that is more temporary, targeted and technology-focused than ever before.
Storefront was also a member of the San Francisco-based Angelpad accelerator fall 2012 class, which is led by ex-Googler Thomas Korte.
Storefront is a marketplace for short-term retail space, making it incredibly easy for brands to open pop-up shops and streamlining the short-term leasing process for commercial brokers and mall owners. The Storefront platform enables businesses to test new concepts, capitalize on holiday sales periods, build buzz around new product launches, and help shape the experience-led future of brick and mortar retail. For commercial real estate owners and brokers, it provides the opportunity to maximize occupancy, insert fresh in-store experiences, and build longer-term partnerships. For more information, visit www.thestorefront.com.
About Mohr Davidow Ventures
For 30 years the Mohr Davidow Ventures (MDV) team has invested in early stage technology-based startups that redefine or create large new markets and deliver out-sized returns to entrepreneurs and investors. The firm partners with exceptional entrepreneurs to build companies where big data, applied analytics, and the reach and power of the web/mobile cloud can be leveraged to drive emerging opportunities in verticals ranging from social commerce to finance to online marketing to consumer-driven healthcare. Leading companies funded by MDV include: Agile (ORCL); Aryaka Networks; Coupa; HealthTap; HotChalk; Infusionsoft; Kabbage; Proofpoint (PFPT); Rally Software (RALY); Rocket Fuel; Retention Science; Ruby Ribbon; Shutterfly (SFLY); Ticketfly; Verinata Health (ILMN); Visible Measures; and Zuckerberg Media. For more information, visit http://www.mdv.com.
About Great Oaks Venture Capital:
Great Oaks Venture Capital is a seed-stage investment firm committed to identifying, financing and developing early-stage growth businesses led by promising entrepreneurs. Their portfolio includes Bonobos, ModCloth, Houzz, Joor, sneakpeeq, and Trulia. For more information, visit www.greatoaksvc.com.
About Sand Hill Angels
Sand Hill Angels is a group of Silicon Valley accredited investors who are passionate about entrepreneurship and the commercialization of disruptive new technologies, with early stage investments in promising startups. With experience spanning all aspects of growing successful companies – from the formative stage through management of multi-billion dollar enterprises –
Sand Hill Angels seeks to add value, provide expertise and assistance to these fledging enterprises. The investment focus includes Internet, Mobile Information Technology, Clean Tech, Consumer, and Life Sciences. Sand Hill Angels works openly and collaboratively with venture capital funds, angel organizations, and the Bay Area ecosystem to foster the growth of technology start-ups. For additional information, visit www.sandhillangels.com.