Storefront Raises $1.6M Seed Round, Launches in New York City

June 26, 2013

1:00 pm

Storefront, the online marketplace for short-term retail spaces, today announced 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.

San Francisco-based 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 US today — representing nearly $20 billion in lost rent annually — there remains a significant amount of unused capacity in commercial real estate. Storefront aims to fix 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,” said 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, said, “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” said Ben Lin, managing partner at Great Oaks Venture Capital.

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.

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Meg Rayford is a communications consultant based in Northern Virginia. She previously spent two years as the Director of Public Relations for a nonprofit startup, where she learned a lot about providing clean water for impoverished countries, even within the confines of a bootstrapped startup. She is the editor of Tech Cocktail, and she develops media strategies for companies in Washington, DC and Virginia. You can read her most recent work in the marketing chapter of the upcoming book, "Social Innovation and Impact in Nonprofit Leadership," which will be published in Spring 2014 by Springer Publishing. Follow her @megkrayford.

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