Digital signage is increasingly being used by businesses as a way to promote new products, engage with customers, and serve up ads. Los Angeles-based Enplug thinks it has a better way to do digital displays, with a software-driven offering that allows businesses to download and customize a wide range of social apps that customers can interact with.
Two years since launch, Enplug has raised a $2.5 million seed round to bring its digital display business to more restaurants, cafes, retail stores and other businesses.
The funding comes from a number of investors, including Oaktree Capital Co-Founder Larry Keele, Juniper Networks Founding Member Rasoul Oskouy, Idealab Founder Bill Gross, Former AT&T President and CTO Hossein Eslambolchi, Interscope Executive Vice President David Cohen, Lightspeed Venture Partners Managing Director Justin Caldbeck, Atom Factory CEO Troy Carter, Activision Co-Founder Howard Marks, DominateFund, zPark Venture, and Amidi Group.
While digital displays aren’t exactly new, Enplug takes a different approach from many other vendors in the space. First and foremost, the company operates more of a software licensing business than a hardware business — its displays can be any number of off-the-shelf Internet-connected TVs that are capable of running its software.
Furthermore, its system is designed to be flexible, customizable and extensible. Customers can install any number of apps that have been created either by Enplug itself or by third-party developers. The company has developed an SDK to allow other developers to build and sell their own apps on its platform.
Those apps are meant to help businesses and brands engage with their customers, and typically aggregate the business’ social media interactions on Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Foursquare, and Instagram, and displays that information on the screen. Viewers who wish to interact with the screens do so by using a hashtag chosen by the business.
Enplug customers pay a monthly fee for any digital signage in their location, and that fee is based on the number of screens they have, as well as whether or not those displays contain advertising. Displays start at $99 per month with advertising, or $299 a month without.
The company was founded in 2012 by Nanxi Liu (CEO), Alex Ross (CTO), Zach Spitulski (Head Designer), David Zhu (COO), and Navdeep Reddy (CIO), but now has 30 employees. Based in L.A., the company has won customers in 40 cities across the country and hundreds of businesses. Early customers include Amoeba Music, Arco AM/PM, Ten Ren, Toyota, and Rita’s Ice.