‘Airbnb For Retail’ Startup Storefront Raises $7.3M From Spark Capital, Expands To LA

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Now more than ever, both big brands and independent merchants are looking for flexibility in the way that they reach consumers. With Storefront, they’re able to find space to set up popup shops or sell items in boutiques without all the hassle that comes with leasing space and building out their own stores.

After raising $1.6 million in seed funding last summer, the AngelPad-backed startup is announcing today that it has brought on an addition $7.3 million in funding led by Spark Capital. Along with the funding, Spark general partner Mo Koyfman will be joining the company’s board of directors.

Previous investors include Mohr Davidow Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital, 500 Startups, David Tisch’s BoxGroup, and Sand Hill Angels, among others.

Storefront launched as a platform to connect those who have shops or empty real estate in highly trafficked areas with merchants who wish to make their goods available without making major investments in opening up a store right away.

Just as Airbnb offers a marketplace for people to make their homes available for others to stay in, Storefront allows those who have retail space to rent it out to merchants on a temporary basis.

The platform offers everything from full retail stores that can be used as pop-up shops to shelf space in boutiques available on a temporary basis. Merchants can rent space on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, based on how much time or space they want.

That flexibility enables major brands to create temporary shops to pitch new products, while also allowing some independent and regional merchants to test out products in new areas without committing to an entire store launch.

Since launching about a year ago, Storefront has signed up a few thousand spaces on the platform. According to co-Founder and CEO Erik Eliason, those locations range from neighborhood shops to MTA subway stops in New York to W hotels and other unique spaces.

As a result, more than 1,000 merchants have used the platform to open up shop in New York and San Francisco, and have generated $40 million in sales through those locations, according to Storefront. For every dollar spent on rent, it says merchants are making $7 in retail sales.

For Koyfman, who is joining the board, Storefront is on the forefront of a new trend emerging in retail where spaces are available in a more flexible way. And it’s providing a new way to connect digital brands with consumers in the offline world — something that could be interesting for brands like Warby Parker, which is also a Spark Capital investment.

But really, the opportunities are endless. Storefront might provide a company like Warby to increase brand awareness in a city where it doesn’t have a retail presence, and it can also be a way for independent merchants to offer up their goods in new retail locations without having to worry about selling their products to a buyer.

Koyfman pointed out that Storefront could also be used to enable artists to launch their own show without booking space in a gallery, or for an online or mobile company to launch new products and showcase them to consumers by finding spaces with lots of guaranteed foot traffic.

With early traction in New York and San Francisco, the company is looking to expand. It’s announcing that the marketplace will now also serve Los Angeles, in addition to its first two cities.

And, to do that, it’s also hiring. Eliason says the company, which has nine employees today, is looking to grow to 25 by the end of the year. With new funding from Spark Capital in the bank, it should be ready to do just that.

Photo Credit: Charleston’s TheDigitel via Compfight cc