The high street is dead. Long live the high street. Appear Here, the UK online marketplace for short-term retail space and so-called pop-up shops, has raised £1 million in new funding.
Leading the round are Howzat Partners, MMC Ventures, and Forward Investment Partners. Also participating are Meyer Bergman, Playfair Capital, Ballpark Ventures, Marc Hazan (of Spotify), and Miroma Ventures.
That’s a pretty long list of backers for a relatively small investment, which follows earlier undisclosed backing last December from Forward Investment Partners, Ballpark Ventures, and various unnamed angel investors. It’s my understanding that Appear Here actually came out of Forward Labs, the startup foundry of Forward Internet Group.
Appear Here says it will use the new capital to “scale up its operations” to meet what it claims is increasing demand, and to continue strengthening its technology team. The company currently employs 12 people, according to CrunchBase.
Founded last year by 21-year-old Ross Bailey, based on experience he gained opening his own “pop-up” shop in London, Appear Here connects commercial landlords who have space, with brands, retailers and entrepreneurs who want to hire retail space for short-term projects such as pop-up shops, product launches and brand showcases.
It’s a classic online marketplace play, aiming to significantly reduce the friction involved for both the commercial landlords wishing to fill unsold inventory, and the short term commercial tenant wanting to expand their bricks ‘n’ mortar presence in a cost-effective and viable way. The startup’s elevator pitch is to make the process of renting short-term retail space as easy as booking a hotel room.
In the UK it competes with We Are Pop Up, which in September announced its own further round of funding; £420,000 led by VC firm Arts Alliance with participation from UCL. Or in the U.S. there’s the likes of Storefront, which operates an identical model.
Appear Here currently works with leading property companies such as British Land, Legal & General and Capital & Regional. On the tenant front, the brands it works with include majors such as Google, Microsoft, American Apparel and Diageo, as well as smaller independents and entrepreneurs such as Stylist Magazine, Peak-A-Boo Vintage and Candy Kittens.
Since its launch in January this year, the UK startup says it has signed up “over 3000 brands and retailers”, giving them access to a database of 250 spaces nationwide.
Cue statement from Nic Brisbourne, Director of Forward Investment Partners: “What attracted us to Appear Here, and specifically the fresh talent of Ross Bailey, was the company’s ability to spot a real gap in the market and then move swiftly to execute, becoming the current leader in the short-term retail space. Appear Here is a great fit with our strategy of backing businesses that support the next revolution in online retail, which is going to see online and offline blurring.”