(Photo by Flickr user Michiel Van Balen, used under a Creative Commons license)
A small clothing company holds a trunk show at a hair salon. A yoga teacher, looking to widen her client base, holds a pop-up class in a new neighborhood. An Etsy shop-owner gets to (affordably) showcase his products in a physical space, meeting new potential clients in the process.
Meet Poppir, the new D.C.-based company that wants to make all these scenarios a reality, all over the country.
Poppir is a platform for listing underutilized commercial real estate that could be used for a pop-up of some kind — a restaurant, event, art show, yoga class or meeting. The list goes on. It’s a two-sided marketplace — one side facing property owners or existing businesses that want to make a little extra money on their space and the other facing the entrepreneurial creator who wants to hold some sort of short-term event.
The platform is free for both parties to list a space or browse open spaces — Poppir makes a commission on bookings.
— Poppir (@joinpoppir) June 2, 2016
Cofounder and CMO Derek Nickerson told Technical.ly that Poppir grew out of a conversation he had with a friend-turned-cofounder on the rooftop of the Elevation apartment building in NoMa. Wouldn’t it be great if there was an Airbnb for art studios, this friend said. For his part Nickerson thought this sounded maybe a little too niche, but, he said, “I saw where he was headed and kinda expanded on that.”
Poppir launched on June 1, but it was a soft launch without a lot of advertising because, Nickerson said, “we don’t want a surge of users right away.” Rather, he’d like the company to grow slowly at first, fixing bugs and incorporating user feedback. Poppir currently lists spaces in the D.C. metro area, plus a few here and there in New York City and Houston, Texas. Nickerson said the goal is to have a strong presence in D.C. and Baltimore by the end of the summer.
The company has identified four different types of pop-ups, and seeks to cater spaces to suit each. First there’s a Classic Pop that takes place in a traditional retail storefront. A Flash Pop takes place in an event space — think hotel rooftop or club during the day. A Share Pop is where a pop-up comes into a space that is already being utilized by an existing business — the trunk show in a hair salon example is a good one. And finally a Work Pop is, as the name suggests, space rented for the purpose of internal company business.
The final type of pop-up is a more crowded marketplace — this is the type of role coworking spaces fill or even SwingSpace, another D.C.-based company Technical.ly profiled earlier this year. But the other types of pop-ups are a bit different. And while there is competition in the short-term event space finding market, Nickerson seems to believe that the industry will grow and Poppir is poised to be a part of that.
Poppir is currently bootstrapped and boasts what Nickerson described as a very diverse team of 12 employees. And the small, young company has a lot more ideas about how to move forward. In one concept the company would keep track of local events and festivals and market space that is available for a pop-up in the surrounding area — this way companies would get the added value of extra foot traffic. Another idea is to market pop-ups to shopping malls — maybe a little bit of scarcity could revitalize the shopping mall industry.
It sounds like they’re just getting started.