Flagship Killer: The meteoric rise of OnePlus through pop ups

Mobile device startup OnePlus launched the OnePlus X –  the follow-up to their self-proclaimed ‘Flagship Killer’ the OnePlus 2 – in the UK earlier this month to queues around the block and critical acclaim. But how has the brand powered from zero to a waiting list of millions in little over 18 months, and what can be learned from their global launch campaign? We Are Pop Up caught up with brand OnePlus and space The Dandy Lab to find out more about their UK collaboration.

The beginning of November saw the highly anticipated UK launch of the OnePlus X with a pop-up store at The Dandy Lab in Spitalfields. After the resounding success of the French edition of the OnePlus pop-up tour at Colette in Paris, the hype was equally tangible in London as queues started to form long before the doors opened at The Dandy Lab. For one night only, the pop up provided a unique opportunity for customers to purchase their handsets without the need for one of the OnePlus infamous online invites.

One Plus launch at The Dandy Lab, November 2015

With a queue stretching the length of Spitalfields Market, this level of buzz and exclusivity has become synonymous with the creators of the low-cost rival to the iPhone. Indeed the OnePlus One sold 1 million units between April and December 2014 when the company was less than a year old. In this age of easily-fuelled social media hysteria, exclusive, time-bound retail opportunities such as this hold the power to provide a startup with a 1.6 million pre-reservation list a mere 18 months after launching.

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The pace is astounding when you think about what’s possible today. Apple was founded on 1st April 1976. OnePlus on 16th December 2013. In less than two years OnePlus has achieved what Apple has strived for in 40 with staggering global demand; queues around the block; customers flying in from different countries to access 1-hour pop-up sales. In August the OnePlus 2 sold out of 30,000 units in 64 seconds in a surprise online sale.

Now that OnePlus has reached such success with their coveted e-commerce business, the brand wants to evolve their approach to become more than purely online sales. In an exclusive interview with We Are Pop Up, European Communications Manager Eric Zarshenas explains that For the OnePlus X they have partnered with fashion boutiques in key cities around the world so that fans can touch and experience the phone before they buy it – “people can look at pictures, watch a YouTube video, or read reviews, but nothing is the same as actually holding the phone.” 

“We are always looking for ways of getting our devices in people’s hands, so that they can truly experience our build quality.”

Eric Zarshenas, OnePlus European Communications Manager

One Plus launch at The Dandy Lab, November 2015

This widespread movement of e-commerce brands from online presence to bricks and mortar appearances comes as retail space increasingly becomes thought of as not just a ‘shop’, but a real world manifestation of social media. Just this week, founder of shoe company Toms, Blake Mycoskie, told the New York Times that he was over the word “store”. Instead, Toms ‘Outposts’ offer seating, free Wi-Fi and events like morning yoga classes and movie nights, creating a “lifestyle for the brand”. This reimagining of the retail experience was implemented at the OnePlus X London pop-up at The Dandy Lab – bringing people together in the real world for what was before a purely online experience.

One Plus launch at The Dandy Lab, November 2015

Julija Bainiaksina, co-founder of The Dandy Lab which hosted the OnePlus X London launch, tells us that people are now coming to shops like theirs to not only purchase products but also participate in events. “Here at The Dandy Lab we believe that this is the way forward, it’s time for a shop to become a social hub for brands and customers. The shop is effectively a physical social media space where we can create exciting experiences for our customers.” That’s why in-store they also offer an event space where they host different events and activities including a recent London Terrariums workshop and British wine tasting sessions. “This helps to create better relationships with the customers and encourage loyalty,” adds Bainiaksina.

One Plus launch at The Dandy Lab, November 2015

Zarshenas adds that “over the last 10 years the traditional retail industry has been disrupted by growing online shopping trends and social media. Brick and mortar shops are no longer just sales platforms. They have become media channels that act as showrooms and experience centres where customers can see and touch products, and then buy anytime, anywhere online.”

Images by Justine Trickett.

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What lies beneath: Reflections on behaviour under the head lease

Every year Britain’s property sector comes together to review the data behind commercial property leasing across the country. The data reveals trends and new behaviours and is crucial to understanding the shifting sands of property usage on Britain’s streets and what that means for business of all sizes. 

Now in it’s 17th year, the MSCI and Strutt & Parker’s UK Lease Event Review in partnership with British Property Federation took place in early November. We Are Pop Up’s COO Clara Maguire was thrilled to speak at the event. Here, Clara shares some of the key insights from the day and the data affecting brands, retailers and the property sector at large. 

The core lesson? Flexible leasing is a structural shift, and it’s here to stay.

Brands want shorter leases and more flexibility in where, and how, they engage consumers. A movement that was spurred by the recession caught fire with social media and has now become the norm. Large and small brands are building products and services in new ways.

Business financing options, innovation tools, and risk profiles have all changed. This means brands’ business and operating models are very different.

Sitting in a room with more than 100 property investors from leading institutions such as British Land and AXA, we reflected on both the opportunities and challenges of these shifts.

‘It will be those investors… with a focus on the underlying drivers of demand, who will succeed as the property cycle moves into its next phase’

Andy Martin – UK Lease Events Review – November 2015

Savvy property professionals know there is more to this than meets the eye. It’s not just the lease instrument that is shifting. In order to meet changing demand we need to overhaul our valuation models, risks profiles, and asset management approaches.

The new drivers of demand

Brands want shorter leases:

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Brands want to know they can get out of the lease if they need to:

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Brands will pay more for flexibility:

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The real, underlying drivers of demand

‘In the past year we have seen serviced office operators catapulted into the limelight… they themselves are signing leases of up to 20-years, this of course disguises the fact that the underlying demand for their services is from occupiers taking on much shorter commitments – something not picked up in the data’

Andy Martin – UK Lease Events Review – November 2015

This behaviour isn’t limited to office space. In recent years there has been an explosive growth in demand from brands to share retail space. In global retail cities where location is king, this is how brands access prime retail space.

We are seeing a whole generation of creative retail talent with an entirely different relationship to real estate than their predecessors. We Are Pop Up’s data shows, at granular detail, demand for a single clothes rail in a boutique in Greenwich that costs £9 a day, to a concession in Oxford Street for £300 a day, or on Manhattan’s Lower East Side for $200 a day. We call this behaviour ShopShare.

We can tell you about the nature, scale, and source of underlying demand. We can tell you how frequently brands book, where they book, what they pay. As a tech platform we can tell you what day of the week a particular concession, in a particular part of town, is most likely to book. Every touch-point from sign-up, to enquiry, to booking is captured.

If this analysis is omitted from the data collected by the UK Lease Events Review, we can help. 

The WeWork Effect

Currently valued at $15billion, WeWork’s value is being generated below the head lease.

Once they sign a 20-year lease in a prime location they are able to service underlying demand for fractional and flexible use of space.

At WeWork you can rent 1 to 10 person offices, dedicated desks, shared desks. The WeWork Commons means you can book a desk on a mobile app on a global basis. You can attend and host events. You can access the social network of 30,000+ creatives, and thousands of potential customers.

In this model WeWork act as network aggregators. They service a growing, underlying demand for fractional use of high value real estate, anchored by a social and globally connected community.   

The result? Networks in physical space.

Hidden and untapped value

A demand of a similar nature exists within retail. Shops on We Are Pop Up are listing small modules of their store and are generating thousands of pounds of revenue every month. Boutiques in Shoreditch make £20k renting rails and tables. Another of our shops tells us 50% of revenue is product sales, the other 50% – renting out space on We Are Pop Up.

These retailers cluster in high-value spaces. This makes them the biggest ‘owners’ of high value space and the smart ones know it. They too are acting as network aggregators selling fractional use of their space.

The result? A new role in the ecosystem. We call them Retail Curators.

A shifting business model for retail

A number of drivers are commoditising retail space.

Channels: e-commerce

Before e-commerce, brick and mortar was how you reached customers. Now brands have options. We see that landlords can’t push increasing rents in the same way anymore. The goal now is just to minimise vacancy. The shift is evident with stable vacancy rates and the majority of retailers either paying the same or lower rates.

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With rental uplift sacrificed for higher renewal, supply gets even more constrained. The mindset of minimising vacancy, rather than maximising utilisation is actively preventing future growth opportunities.

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Product sourcing: ShopShare

For many brands ShopShare now replaces trade-shows. Rather than showcase a product to retail buyers at a trade-show, brands buy ShopShare space and face the product directly to consumers, able to invite buyers to the space too. We Are Pop Up allows brands to access high-value space, but we also allow low-value space to approach brands relevant for their stores.

For the retailer, ShopShare de-risks product selection. There is now an alternative to buying large consignments and hoping you’ve got it right, or fronting money for sale and return.

This transforms getting new inventory and fresh in-store content, from a cost centre to a revenue line.

Roles: Retail Curators

Retailers are the biggest space owners, but they’re stale on storytelling. They are paying prime rents and being hit by e-commerce. The retail in itself isn’t necessarily profitable but they need to engage consumers in the real world and drive them back online. They need a physical presence on the high street, and they need a new way to compete for attention anchored in experiences. 

Brands have fresh product and they need channels to market it to consumers. To them ShopShare is social media space and they share that story widely across their networks. Having a presence in a physical space creates new media content. The brands drive the network movement through sharing this content online. The retailer takes advantage of this behavior to anchor the experience in real space – in their real space. This drives footfall, brand awareness, and ultimately sales.

The result, once again is networks in physical space.

It’s the same with The Permanent Pop Up and The Dandy Lab. It’s the same with historic Heal’s flagship store on Tottenham Court Road partnering with coworking space Forge & Co.

Value: Adjacent benefit

Possibly my favourite graph of the day presented by Stephanie McMahon, Head of Research at Strutt & Parker, shows the comparative uplift in asset value in Brixton ‘v’ Clapham post the development of Brixton Village Market.

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The market operator plays the role of aggregator. They offer micro-leases and build a new ‘anchor’ offer, based not on long leases, but on flexible ones. Consumers know there will be authentic and novel experiences and keep coming back for more. This drives footfall and ultimately pushes up the value of adjacent retail assets. The key thing here is the correlation between google hits and rising asset value.

New drivers of value

Taken together we are seeing a powerful set of drivers pointing us toward a new value proposition for commercial real estate. We have some work to do and some mindset shifts to make.

1/ We need to evolve our data models to include the underlying patterns of demand. This means exploring the real behavior shaping the future of commercial real estate that’s happening below the line of the head lease.

2/ Network Aggregators are benefiting from the underlying patterns of demand, inventing new ways to meet it based on fractional use overlaid with networks. They are creating new value and driving supply in a supply constrained market. Institutional investors can help scale this model and share in its benefits.

3/ The fundamental shift needed is to move from asset valuations to use-valuations. In a complicated real estate market where assets are over-leveraged or underpin pension policies, I recognise making this transition is a challenge. However, we do need to make it if we want the asset class to be productive and grow.

The opportunity costs are mounting for landowners, retailers, brands, which is having a knock-on effect at the simple level of job creation and economic growth. What is becoming increasingly apparent is that fewer and fewer benefit from trying to keep things the same. It’s time for a change. 

If you’d like to continue to the conversation over a coffee then contact me at clara@wearepopup.com

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Market Gravity Corporate Entrepreneur Awards nominate WAPU for best new product or service

Wednesday, We Are Pop Up joins Barclays, Hive, DriveNow and Funding Circle as nominees for Market Gravity’s Corporate Entrepreneur Awards. We don’t spend much time thinking about awards, but being recognised for best new product and service gives us a reason for pause. We’ll be joining more than 400 of Europe’s most creative, disruptive and entrepreneurial business leaders at this year’s Market Gravity Corporate Entrepreneur Awards – the biggest yet – to enjoy a night celebrating innovation in business.

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The innovation for which We Are Pop Up has been recognised? Fully automated real-estate transactions. This sophisticated engine sits on the back-end of the wearepopup.com website and powers every single booking between a space and brand. For the first time, brands and spaces can not only discover each other and connect directly, they can also pay and have legal protection as-standard, all included seamlessly in the process. Instead of 10-year leases, we’ve enabled 10-day leases. Or, ten-hour leases. Or a ten hour lease shared with ten brands.

“The acceleration of technology and digitisation has enabled a step change in a company’s ability to deliver innovations at a faster pace than ever before.” Market Gravity.

Funding Circle is a peer-to-peer lending service which allows savers to lend money directly to small and medium sized businesses.

Renting a retail space could take weeks to transact and from the outside, retail property deals looked like a complex web of relationships built on exclusivity clauses and long-term contracts. Working collaboratively with leading real estate legal practice Hogan Lovells LLP, we standardised and digitised the property contract and created the world’s first fully automated commercial property transactions.

DriveNow is a joint venture between BMW and Sixt that provides carsharing services in several cities in Europe and North America.

Our innovation connects brands directly with spaces, cutting out the middleman and all of the paperwork. Spaces set their own prices and terms. They rent for a day or a year. They can rent a full building, or just a shelf within their shop (an increasingly popular option under We Are Pop Up’s ShopShare) They review, accept, and decline brand requests on mobile phones.

Our rental agreement protects our customers’ bookings. It works by taking the information they provide us and auto-populating the agreement. Both the space or brand’s listing and any direct messages between them form an annex to the rental agreement.

The Hive Active Heating Thermostat and App let you control your heating and hot water from your smartphone, tablet or laptop.

People are literally building businesses on top of the We Are Pop Up platform. As a result, we have over 21,500 brands registered with We Are Pop Up, booking short term retail space for anything from a day to 6 months or more.

We’ve brought down the time it takes to book a retail space too – the record so far has been a 7 minute deal: A brand contacted one of London’s most popular fashion boutiques at 9:55AM and at 10:02AM had booked to pop up.

The Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars is a three month intensive FinTech startup programme.

Brands and spaces can book 24/7 at times that suit them. 32% of brands and spaces book outside of office hours. Removing the contract negotiation totally changed the nature of landlord / tenant interactions – so much so that we changed our vocabulary from “tenants” and “landlords” to “brands” and “space owners” to reflect the people using our platform.

It turns out, by removing agents, lawyers, and contracts, not only did we remove delays and costs associated, we also changed the inherent nature of the interaction from adversarial to collaborative. And we’re only just getting started.

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Strong and still growing – pop-up retail sector adds billions to the UK economy

The pop-up retail sector now generates £2.3 billion for the UK economy, according to Britain’s Pop-Up Retail Economy 2015, the second annual report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) and EE. Pop-ups now account for 0.76% of total retail turnover in the UK, up from 0.6 % the year before – an increase of more than £200m in sales.

The sector is growing fast, with total turnover increasing by 12.3% compared to 8.4% in the last year. This is caused by a rise in the number of visitors with 44% having visited a pop-up in the last 12 months, and an £8 increase in the average annual spend to approximately £124 per person.

Around 26,200 people across the UK are employed by some 10,500 pop-up shops, with numerous successful ventures going on to become established retailers. In turn this is supporting the growing number of small retail businesses which has increased by 3.2% between 2013 and 2014.

8% of retailers and food and accommodation service providers report having launched a pop-up to complement their permanent location, while 10% plan to open one in the next five years.

The growth of the sector is also acting as a strong catalyst for the regeneration of flagging high streets – 49% of people surveyed believe that pop-ups were a good way to revive the high street.

“Pop-up retail is just getting started. This is the beginning of a trend that will reshape how we use property in cities around the world. 20% of shopping centres will be let on short-term contracts. Most restaurants will start as pop-ups. We’ll see huge cross-border movement with brands entering new markets at extremely low costs.

The biggest winners are consumers – which is basically everyone in the world.”

– Nicholas Russell, CEO, We Are Pop Up

The pop-up retail sector continues to evolve from strength to strength, at growth rates far higher than those of traditional retail outlets. The industry is helping numerous businesses develop into established companies – with permanent shops, online platforms or even further pop-ups. Blurring the line between traditional bricks and mortar and a new generation of creative retail, pop-ups are bringing new ideas to life every day, giving an inclination towards the temporary a much more permanent role in the retail landscape.

Read the report here.

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The highlights from Social Retail Summit #9

On a balmy summer’s evening in June, We Are Pop Up attended the Social Retail Summit #9 at Google Town Hall for a series of discussions about customer relations strategies for post-internet brands. Initially established in New York, the inaugural UK edition sought to delve into the reinvention of offline retail, its convergence with media and the changing disciplines of social marketing. Of the wealth of information covered, we have put together some highlights from the discussions just for you.

Alice Mayor, founder of We Built This City, a pop-up shop revolutionising London souvenirs, amazed us with the story of how the project progressed from Keynote presentation to a fully-fledged shop in a mere three weeks. “People walking past on Carnaby Street every day stopped and witnessed the project appear from nothing out of an empty space.”

She explained that opening both last Christmas and now for summer has been an excellent test for comparing between seasons, with interesting results – summer being a much more successful period specifically for tourists, with Christmas catering to locals buying presents for friends and family.

Peter Jeun Ho Tsang and Julija Bainiaksina, founders of The Dandy Lab, aim to go beyond the traditional form of retail and enhance the consumer experience using groundbreaking technology to augment physical retail space. They told us about one of the innovative ways in which they track success in-store – the metric of “experience per square foot,” which acts as an alternative data source based on creating value and making people smile (or not!) through this new approach to retail.

Daniel Peters, founder and creative director of BBS Clothing, a multi-brand business offering a curated selection of emerging and establish British menswear, emphasised the importance of creating a synergy between your online and offline presence. “Your website should mirror how you visualise the pop-up space and how you create the customer’s journey – you need to give things a realness.”

Keeping people engaged is also key – Daniel added that from his experience with organising promotional evenings at Selfridges, holding an exclusive event with a drinks reception and unique activities can lead to a 90% uplift in sales over three days.

Nicola Fry, Industry Manager at Google and specialist in the Fashion vertical, revealed some impressive Youtube statistics, including:

  • 1 in 3 millennials have bought a product as a result of watching a how-to video
  • There are two times the amount of UK views for fashion and beauty videos than there are women in the UK
  • A ‘haul’ video created by YouTube sensation Zoella, featuring her purchases from a trip to Topshop, has reached around 1.8 million views, amounting to the equivalent of 13 years of marketing engagement for the brand

Nicola added that the key points of maximising the potential of YouTube lie with understanding your brand and video category, building a community and understanding your audience.

Her top tip for creating video content? Head to YouTube’s newly launched Creator Hub for tutorials, tools and support.

Finally, we also heard from Brendan Courtney, co-founder of Frockadvisor, a social and customer service platform that supports independent retailers. He told us about their recent success, Fashion Independents Day. Taking place on May 28, it followed London’s most influential fashion bloggers as they supported the independent retailers of the city by visiting as many as possible and shouting about it on social media.

The campaign had a massive impact of 88 million, with 18.8 million people engaging with the event online. Thanks to Frockadvisor, he added, “it’s time for the artisan and indie retailers to step in and utilise their loyal following.”


Whether we’re talking about materialising an entire retail concept from deck to shop in three weeks, measuring the value of someone’s experience by square feet, or achieving 13 years of marketing reach in a 17 minute video, the world of social retail is evolving fast. It’s going to be an interesting ride for post-internet brands, with the Social Retail Summit eagerly scratching at the surface of the deluge of converging dispiclines to come.

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The Revolution Will Not Be Digitalised

This article is written by: Kirstin Maguire

It’s no secret that over the past decade, eCommerce has been an innovator in the consumer market. Offering convenient, personalised, mobile shopping opportunities, the reasons for its appeal are clear. Crucially, this also means that eCommerce players have had the upper hand in collecting customer data to build their brands. What’s not as widely known, is that this is all about to change, and online innovation is about to inform bricks and mortar retail.

How online innovation informs bricks and mortar retail

Our research has found that ‘omni-channel’, which merges online and physical shopping experiences, is presenting increasing opportunities for retailers. PSKF’s Piers Fawkes says ‘We’re seeing the digital and physical worlds start to converge, creating a new model for the retail marketplace’ in his piece here, whilst Deloitte’s report, The Omnichannel Opportunity concludes that the market is prime for convergence.

Excitingly, physical shops are now using technologies, previously only available in eCommerce, to inform the in-store shopping experience, as Amanda Berglove at Brandpoint explores. Data analytics players such as RetailNext are providing a seamless shopping experience between channels for consumers, and a cost-effective data analysis for businesses.

We see companies using GPS and beacon integration to create a much more fluid physical to digital shopping experience, which amalgamates design and consumer data. A Walker Sands study found that the latest advances respond directly to the needs of consumers.

So what does this mean for your pop up?

We know the opportunities this provides are vast. Firstly, retailers can use the unique data they collect to attract more shoppers with personalised messages delivered to their mobile. Once through the door, in-store mapping (accounting for real-time factors) helps customers navigate their pathway through the store, whilst being alerted to sale products, ably-assisted by personal shoppers through mobile concierge systems, on-demand customer services and virtual fitting rooms.

All this without having to queue to pay, through EasyPay Self Mobile Checkouts, as pioneered by Apple, as well as pre-order pick-up and free next day delivery options. Puneet Mehta, CEO at MyCityWay explores this here,

This merging of online and physical shopping experiences, provides a groundbreaking opportunity for companies to build the ultimate physical shopping experience. Temporary showrooms, local events and pop-ups now provide significant innovative opportunities to build a seamless connection between online and offline retail, keeping finger on the pulse in an exciting consumer market.

Etsy Wholesale – Innovation in physical retail

This article is written by: Kirstin Maguire

Last month, Etsy launched their cutting-edge, bricks and mortar retail platform, Etsy Wholesale, in the U.S. After 2 years in beta, it aims to offer small businesses and established brands alike, an opportunity to move into the illustrious offline market.

The current merge between online and offline retail is providing fertile ground for innovation. Indeed, as Chad Dickerson, CEO of Etsy, told Forbes ‘In a world where 90% of retailing (still) happens offline, you have to have some kind of offline strategy’.

Etsy traditionally partners with small vendors, offering them valuable opportunities to engage with a global market through the online marketplace. With one million active sellers and 40 million members, their business is now worth $1.35 billion.

Etsy Wholesale builds on these partnerships through an inexpensive pricing model, whilst enabling partnerships with more established brands. Artists and designers pay a $100 one-off joining fee, and a 3.5% transaction fee on each item purchased. Much like We Are Pop Up’s Shop Share initiative – Etsy Wholesale is a way for new up and coming online retailers to collaborate with established high street boutiques. An estimated 1,500 Etsy sellers are currently placed in bricks and mortar stores.

Dickerson identified ‘In the old days of big box retailing, it was cool to have what everybody else had. Now, consumers want to have something that nobody else has’. Etsy Wholesale therefore, intuitively combines the individuality of online retail, with what has been coined as ‘The power of tribes’, whereby powerful communities are being formed around brands and experiences.

Etsy Wholesale has aptly aimed their market at short-term and experiential opportunities, as opposed to permanent stores. By hosting local events where creators and consumers come together they are tapping into the creative, intimate relationships that pop-ups and events uniquely provide. Watch this space.

Collaborative consumption, and the rise of H2H

For the past two years, the We Are Pop Up team has been watching the rise of the sharing economy and collaborative consumption. From inception, we intended WAPU to be a sharing economy platform – bringing the power of community connections into retail property.

Hundreds of new retailers

In 2013, our team studied retail property transactions. On 17 December 2014, Online Transactions went live. For the first time, two people could transact a industrial-strength license to occupy completely online.

In 2012, it took on average eight weeks to find and negotiate a pop up contract. In February 2014, two WAPU users transacted a £10k shop in less than a week. In May, two WAPU users transacted a £10k shop in less than 12 hours.

To date, We Are Pop Up customers have created hundreds of new shops around the UK and in Berlin. About 10% of those shops turned permanent. For landlords, our customers are their new long-term retailers, and the future of malls and shopping centres.

Backed by the smartest guys in the room

Pop up retail continues to explode in popularity around the world. And the smartest guys in the room get it, having invested over £10M to date in the three leading pop up platforms.

We looked at our results in spring and were humbled by how the We Are Pop Up community used the tool. By enabling people easier access to retail property, we saw creativity explode. One of the greatest joys of running the platform is reading a digest each morning of all the ideas that came in the previous day.

Unbridled human creativity is wonderful – it is deeply renewing and restorative. Multinational brand managers contribute new campaign concepts. Recent graduates share new entrepreneurial ideas. Tricksters push the envelope with proposals for anti-retail executions. The potential of We Are Pop Up to enable all of these ideas makes this truly meaningful work.

“The quality of your life is determined by the quality of questions you ask.”

The team sat down for one of our famous marathon strategy sessions. Whilst the results were very powerful, we wanted to do more. The majority of the shops our customers created were whole shops. We Are Pop Up was labelled property technology – prop tech.

“We have successfully automated short-term retail transactions, and we’re building a prop tech business. But we’re not yet part of the sharing economy.

“How do we truly enable collaborative consumption in this market? How can we enable our customers to not only participate in retail, but also to start reinventing it?”

Embracing H2H

An early fundraising meeting with one of London’s most prominent venture capital funds started with a Partner looking my two Co-Founders and me up and down. “An artist, an academic, and an environmentalist walked into a room…”

We have heard iterations of that quip many times since. “The painter, the computer scientist, and the management consultant.” “The Hawaiian shirt, the cardigan, and the suit.”

Eventually, leading prop tech investor Faisal Butt wrote: “I’m not surprised to learn that the guys that set up the company are not from a property background. This is a startup borne out of disruptive thinking from a strategy consultant and a research scientist.”

We finally asked: “What is the most disruptive thing we can do?”

The answer was immediately obvious. Enable people to collaborate.


As I’ve written before, collaborative platforms are systematically reshaping billion dollar industries. In less than a decade, a handful of startups have completely changed how we think about business finance, creative production, hotels, pets, taxis, and venture capital.

They do this by directly connecting sellers and buyers, removing complex chains of middleman. The efficiencies introduced by simple direct connections enable fractional usage – the ability to seamlessly share resources to the benefit of both parties.

We Are Pop Up and the rise of collaborative retail

If collaborative retail represents the future of the industry, and the leading platforms are backed by tens of millions of Pounds Sterling in venture capital, what does collaborative retail actually look like?

It’s simple. People looking for new connections with people.

The brands:

1) Buttonbacks: We would love to get our hand made and upholstered chairs and love seats seen by the public, we have been making and selling chairs for the last few years and would love to show them off in a shop…

2) Marianna G Swimwear: Each collection draws influences from the rich Greek culture; mythical Grecian goddesses, ancient history and it’s beautiful Mediterranean landscape. We are looking for rail space in a shop share. The swimwear and clothing can be provided pre-hung on white wooden hangers.

3) The Green Sardine: We aim to select innovative, beautiful and unique work from emerging talents as well as classic products that remain firm favourites in Portugal. All our things are very beautiful and we want them to speak for themselves therefore we would like a large low shelf (possibly 2 metres long) or perhaps a table or maybe a cool shelving unit where we could display a selection of our products in a shop or gallery which shares similar values to us.

The spaces:

1) Glassworks Concession (Shoreditch): We are looking for cool concessions like coffee stalls, chocolatiers, juice bars and the like! We’re open to meeting women’s clothing, accessories and jewellery brands, as well as men’s accessories brands.

2) Three Potato Four (Stoke Newington): Retailers of all kinds are invited to rent the prime window space in Three Potato Four, a fun and quirky children’s shop.

The available lot is 70 x 70 square feet. You can make use of available shelving, or bring some of your own.

3) Nancy’s Pantry (Hackney): We have a very popular restaurant, but we close at 6.30pm every day, so there is the potential to use the space in the evening. It is licensed to serve alcohol.

5 Kickstarter Projects We Love

We Are Pop Up adores the ingenious projects listed throughout popular crowd-funding site Kickstarter. Although there are so many campaigns that caught our eye this week, here are five special ones we wanted to share with you.

1. Turn around : Carousel, London

Carousel, London: unforgettable adventures in flavour
Carousel, London: unforgettable adventures in flavour

The creators of Carousel London are so passionate about bringing you world-renowned chefs, innovative pop-ups and extraordinary events they claim they haven’t slept in weeks. They want to be “like a Tate Modern or a National Theatre for food.” providing an ever-changing landscape of gastronomic treats in the heart of Marylebone. They have the space, they have the commitment, but what they don’t have is a kitchen and that’s why they need your help. Carousel London needs to raise  £25,000 and they’re looking for you to pledge. Rewards for your support include tickets to Carousel Presents Events, bespoke aprons, recipe books, cooking classes and you can even have the “house cocktail” named after you. If you like what’s on offer you can support Carousel, London here

2: Whisky business : Mallow and Marsh

100% Natural and handmade
Mallow and Marsh 100% natural and handmade

What’s not to love about Marshmallows?

Harriot Pleydell-Bouverie, creator of Mallow and Marsh has such an obsession with the gooey, fluffy, deliciousness that are marshmallows, that she dreams of “floating them down the Thames” and taking them to space. With no shortage of ambition this special business has already sold over 2 tonnes of squishy goodness and it seems everyone wants a bite of her fair-trade and organic mallows.

With a growing business, Harriot needs extra equipment to keep up with the demand. Your support will be rewarded with marshmallows, marshmallows and more marshmallows  Support Mallow and Marsh here.

3. A cut above : The Man Comb

With the wind in your beard and a beer in your hand!
With the wind in your beard and a beer in your hand!

With the rise of the hispterdom era, sculpting of ones facial hair has become a necessary part of the quintessential male grooming routine. With a lot of pressure on men to get the right look, The Man Comb has been invented “to own your beard and barnet, so even if you’re as hairy as a Yeti’s armpit you can look and feel magnificent!” Clearly the demand was there because they have already hit their goal of £9,000. It seems the bearded brotherhood are banning together with this one.

Even though they have reached their initial financial goal, a new bar has been set to raise £16,000, which promises to unlock a new special edition. The comb already features a bottle opener, so what more could you ask for? We are pretty confident it’s only a matter of time that The Man Comb will be coming to a pop up store near you but if you can’t wait, you can get your hands on your very own by pledging here.

4. Opinions that count : Looks Good On Me

Opinions that matter
An App with an opinion

As confident as one can be, getting a second opinion from someone you trust can be invaluable. Knowing that, LOOKS GOOD ON ME plans to launch an app in November, which transforms your friends into an intimate circle of fashion advisors. Their aim is to raise £20,000 so that they can bring this app to the market for free.

Using your ‘community’ for opinions has become second nature, but this app aims to proactively engage buyers with reliable feedback about what does and doesn’t look good. Claiming to save time, energy and improve the overall shopping experience, a happy customer should result in a happy business. If you want your customers to showcase your label to their trusted friends and family, why not make your investment here?

5. Colour Up : Geco Hub

Geco Hub - easy and fun access to the things that matter
Geco Hub – easy and fun access to the things that matter

Thinking of creative and clever ways to make your products stand out is always a challenge. The Geco Hub could provide a colourful answer to your product display.  Designed as a “one-stop grab-and-go storage spot”, this bright durable design can be utilised in a number of different ways. Originally created as an organiser, we are confident a touch of innovative imagination can transform the Geco Hub into a unique way to showcase your work. Simon Lyons, an award winning engineer and inventor of The Geco hub wants to raise  £23,000 to assist with the costs of the manufacturing processes. If your mind is starting to dream up all the artistic ways you can use this platinum-cured silicone rubber unit why not get behind it here?