San Francisco-based startup Storefront has finished its Series A investment round with a total of $7.3 million raised. The company was formed approximately two years ago by Erik Eliason and Tristan Pollock as a way for retail space operators to rent out space – be it a kiosk at a fair or an entire store – to designers, artists, and others with ease. Storefront is rapidly expanding with operations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and many more in the works.
Emerging Prairie met up with Tristan, Storefront’s co-founder and 2008 North Dakota State University graduate, to celebrate his company’s recent success and learn a little more about how Storefront is working to bring e-commerce back to the brick-and-mortar.
After graduating from NDSU, Tristan had a stint at Best Buy where he witnessed the transition from store showcases to online user interface. Even with the growing e-commerce marketplace, he realized that there is a limit to the relationship a retailer can make with potential customers over the Internet. While the introduction of online sales into the retail industry has certainly been a boon to many organizations, Tristan still saw a need to create community via brands in person.
During this time, he and Erik were also developing SocialEarth, an entrepreneurship blog focused on documenting socially mindful businesses. In the summer of 2012, the pair broke off and created Storefront which was soon accepted into the AngelPad accelerator in San Francisco. Ten weeks of work followed by a pitch to 300 investors led to the company’s first seed funding valued at $1.6 million.
Storefront continues to brand itself today as the place for individuals and brands alike to find spaces for ad hoc sales. The website acts as a hub for entities to list available retail space and a hub for sellers to find those spaces in a process much more simplified and standardized than any other method that currently exists. This form of selling, pop-up retailing, can be used by artists, international brands, and others in order to provide the tangible experience of shopping that is necessary to develop true relationships with customers. Storefront works to facilitate that relational, community-oriented experience in the market.
Now that the company’s Series A is complete, Tristan explained that the goal is to increase its user base. Explicitly, this means providing the Storefront platform to the top ten retail cities in the U.S. by the end of 2014, to hire many new team members, and ultimately to offer this opportunity to everyone who is searching for space.
Storefront is growing in tandem with the businesses using its platform. Tristan thinks the next step in terms of office space for the team is a unique retail space. In order to truly become a part of what they do, the team is thinking of ways to meld a space showcasing new retail technology with stereotypical office space to create something unique.
Fargo may not be a top-ten retail city, but it certainly can have a role in Storefront’s development. Retail space owners are welcomed to list spaces on the platform, and those interested in pop-up retail are encouraged to test its potential to bring in new foot traffic. In a very real way, Tristan’s passion for Storefront and its purpose can be manifested in the shops of Broadway and Fargo’s entrepreneurial community.