Penn Center for Innovation

I-Corps Blog: LocalPulse PopUp Retail

Posted on July 17, 2015 — Kat Hinkel

Week 1

LocalPulse Retail aims to turn vacant storefronts in urban communities into vibrant pop up stores featuring e-commerce brands. We are currently looking to partner with property owners in Center City and e-commerce businesses to accomplish this. If successful, the pop up would help provide both property and business owners with an otherwise absent revenue stream and offer a platform for brand exposure. After last week’s classes, we decided to start honing in on our customer segments, and chose for this week’s interviews to engage with retailers. We contacted a variety of retailers through email and phone conversations and interviewed them in hopes of gaining insight into their business-related “pains” as well as assess customer interest into our current business model. From our first set of interviews, we found a partner in www.PopInShop.me, which will feature our store on their platform and allow brands to sign up and register the items they have in their collections.

Week 2

This past week we spent time walking around center city and finding vacant spots that would be suitable for a charter store. We had made a list of sites prior to visiting the area but found a number of other locations in the area that also looked promising. We interacted with a number of store owners and retail workers, such as those at Joan Shepp. We also met a local news personality that was willing to help us contact fashion bloggers and a realtor who proved helpful in offering her take on the Philadelphia real estate market.
Week 3

This past week we kept our different customer segments in mind and focused on starting conversations with store/brand owners. Among several locally based brand representatives, we got in contact with the owner of a medium sized but successful chain to get a sense of how they displayed their inventory and their methodology for satisfying their customers. A certain Philadelphia based store owner divulged his process of hosting pop ups within his own store.

 Week 4

Over the last week we continually reminded ourselves of our value propositions and how we could best position our business as a type of service. We received some very valuable advice from Jonathan Savar, an attorney lending his services to Penn Innovation. On the first of the month we were shown a vacant storefront ready for short term occupancy in Liberty Place, which proved to be a promising first location for LocalPulse.

Week 5

This past week we visited New York and spoke to two very successful entrepreneurs, Dorie Golkin Smith and Melissa Mash, who represent OfMercer and Dagne Dover Purses respectively.  We also attended an Innovation mixer that provided a number of interesting contacts in a variety of industries. We also had an informative discussion with Scott and received some very useful advice on how to proceed after the learning portion of the program wrapped up.

 Week 6

This past week we focused on creating a work plan for the next phase of the i-corps program. After looking at what we wanted to accomplish in this next phase, we decided that we would want to allocate our budget to travel and lodging to cities in the US for customer research and analysis. In the next few weeks, we aim to -become an LLC, find a design consultant, draft agreements with the guidance of a contract lawyer and form relationships with brands and compile a list of which other retailers they enjoy working with for us to contact.

 

Category: i-corps, i-corps-team-posts