Crowdfunding Campaign Lets You Invest in Transforming Vacant Storefronts - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

Vacant storefronts are everywhere. Churn in the real estate market means there will always be a number of vacant properties. These vacant properties do not generate revenue for property owners, and their presence can stymie local investment. VisuWall transforms vacant storefronts in local communities into revenue generating eye-level media.

The data-driven marketplace connects property owners and advertisers to activate storefront windows with static or digital media. VisuWall founder, Kobi Wu, launched an equity crowdfunding campaign to give everyone the opportunity to invest in transforming vacant places into beautiful spaces. VisuWall joins other companies like Bandwagon and theCut in offering securities to non-accredited investors. In this interview, Wu discusses the campaign and her vision for transforming the advertising industry.

 BLACK ENTERPRISE: What do brands get wrong about advertising; digital and physical?

Kobi Wu: Media buyers tend to work in silos, buying impressions for either traditional or digital. Traditional outdoor is mostly bought in terms of impressions, but they don’t really have a way of measuring true engagement. As an alternative, brands have been flooding the digital landscape to try to garner clicks or to measure dwell time and the result is a super overcrowded landscape that can fall flat and worse yet, dilute the brand’s equity with followers.

storefronts

(VisuWall activation. Image: visuwall.com)

 

Why is activating vacant storefront windows the right solution for advertisers?

Vacant storefront windows are everywhere and they aren’t going to be depleted anytime soon. They are at eye-level, they are located where consumers already are, and generally speaking, they have the size and visibility that makes a great impression in fantastic neighborhoods. Because we are making it easy for property owners to engage on the platform, we make using the format that much easier for advertisers to use at scale and demonstrate ROI that is meaningful. Now you can deploy smart eye-level media campaign in a matter of a few clicks.

Advertising data is notoriously difficult to collect, but critical to creating relevant campaigns. What kind of data does VisuWall deliver to brands and how is it collected?

In every window, we deploy computer vision technology that collects traffic information to help inform where a brand will perform best. Once a campaign is in-window we are counting the number of people walking by, the number of faces that are looking at the window, gender, approximate age, time of day and even sentiment. And then throughout the campaign we provide access to analytics that will help clients optimize the campaign. Property owners find this information valuable as it helps them refine their marketing efforts with the demographic information specific to their properties.

How does transforming vacant storefronts into eye-level media impact local communities?

When a storefront window has an image it in, it increases curb appeal of the property, provides a reference for what it would look like for prospective tenants, and when you take a step back and look at the landscape of a block it can create a sense of vibrancy to an otherwise desolate area.

storefronts

(VisuWall activation. Image: visuwall.com)

 

You launched an equity crowdfunding campaign to raise capital for VisuWall. Why was this the right funding opportunity for your business?

I did! I launched a campaign on Republic. VisuWall is at an interesting stage. We are generating revenue with is super exciting. And with an insurgence of some capital, we can accelerate growth developing areas of the business that need a little extra attention like marketing and sales. Deploying a crowdfunding campaign allows me to invite some great people to participate in the round who perhaps are not yet accredited investors and would love to have a chance to invest in the next big tech company. In my head, crowdfunding makes investing in a cool company accessible to people who have some means, but not set up in an official capacity, just like VisuWall makes advertising accessible to companies who aren’t set up with an agency.

Why should every day investors consider investing in VisuWall?

VisuWall answers an expansive problem with a simple yet sophisticated solution, and frankly customers love the innovation. We’ve identified a white space between two complex industries and optimized the space with technologies that customers not only need, but have been wanting for years. VisuWall is kind of business that makes people ask “Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?” I love this question and delighted by the surprise people have when they realize it is me who’s answering it. They say women receive only 2% of funding. Investing in VisuWall means that you are not only investing in a new and exciting business model, but you are also changing the narrative and investing in a minority and woman-led business.