Pop-up shop business founded by UCL graduates raises £420,000 investment

9 September 2013

The logo for We Are Pop Up

We Are Pop Up, the community marketplace that connects brands and businesses with short-term retail properties in the UK, has raised further funding of £420,000 led by venture capital company Arts Alliance with participation from UCL.

With one in seven shops on the UK’s High Street currently lying vacant, We Are Pop Up allows potential tenants to find available locations for short term shops, restaurants, art projects and one off events, while giving landlords an efficient way to access a fast growing source of new tenants.

The business was founded by two UCL postgraduates along with a colleague from the University of Oxford.

Since launching in 2012, more than 1,400 businesses and brands have applied to run over 900 projects in over 100 commercial spaces around the UK. The company now has over 3,500 registered users with a cross section of businesses signed

up, from small Internet entrepreneurs to large multinational corporations.

There are over 120 properties currently available on the platform, provided by leading operators like BOXPARK Shoreditch; large commercial landlords including Cushman and Wakefield and Jones Lang Lasalle; and local regeneration teams like Brighton & Hove City Council, and Camden Town Unlimited, Camden’s Business Improvement District.

Sites vary from local collaboration spaces, shipping containers and independent shops to traditional units at shopping centres in London, Birmingham and other UK cities. Examples of tenants so far include artists setting up temporary galleries, restaurateurs trying out new concepts, and online-only retailers creating temporary locations for consumers to sample new product lines or pick up purchases.

“The line between online and offline commerce has disappeared, challenging the real estate industry to change how they think about letting space,” said Nicholas Russell, CEO at We Are Pop Up. “There’s a huge amount of under-utilised space in the UK, which we estimate could be generating at least £40 billion of revenue for the retail industry a year.We Are Pop Up enables communities to fill their own shops, showcase local talent and reverse the High Street’s demise.

“For small businesses, pop-ups offer the capability for ‘lean-retail’, a stripped-down, faster and more efficient way to launch ideas in space. For large businesses, pop-ups facilitate new consumer experiences with much lower risk,” he added.

and we are delighted that this disruptive company was started by two recent UCL postgraduate students and their Oxford colleague,” added Timothy Barnes, Director of UCL Advances, the university’s centre for entrepreneurship.