Every couple of years, folks like me say retail is dead, and the stats on malls seem to be proving that out -- with 15% estimated to close in the next 10 years. The stunning pictures of malls in transition, including this strip mall parking lot converted to an urban farm (http://goo.gl/mcKbLJ), are the stuff of science fiction. Dystopian rebirth –– the street finding its own use for the past.
Yet we’re all still shopping like crazy. People still like to go out of their houses, despite the hype around the Oculus Rift that Zuck just bought for 1.3% of their stock.
As much as I love to set up “subscribe and save” on Amazon Prime, never having to think about coffee beans, soap and razors, I still like to get out of the house and take my four-year-old daughter somewhere on the weekends.
Folks are being pulled from their homes by the lure of 4D movie theaters in Los Angeles (http://goo.gl/lO3iV3), open spaces like Tony Hsieh’s container park in downtown Vegas (http://goo.gl/6zExR5), and digital storefronts in shopping malls (http://goo.gl/hoKCK1).
Retail, local and payments are all in massive transition.
When I sense something like this, I do two things:
1. Start writing checks as an angel investor
2. Hold a conference: www.launchbeacon.co
With regard to number one, I’ve invested in seven local-ish plays to date (about 10% of my investments): Gowalla.com (sold to Facebook), Signpost.com (software for local businesses), MyTime.com (book any appointment), Thumbtack.com (find a service provider, like I just did for tennis), Uber.com (urban logistics, not just cabs now that they launched Uber Rush in NYC), Red Tricycle (what to do with your kids: redtri.com) and StyleSeat.com (software/services for salons and such). Links to each of these founders on This Week in Startups at the bottom of this announcement.
With regard to the conference, on June 16, I will host a one-day event in New York City (I’m coming home!) at the Metropolitan Pavilion on W. 18th Street (where I used to host Silicon Alley 99, 2000, etc).
Simple agenda: I will do demos with 10 startups that we hand select for awesomeness (not my investments FYI), two keynote/fireside chats and four partner presentations (keeping the lights on baby!). Then we will have an intimate dinner for 150.
This is a tiny event, but we hope it has great density of people who care about these issues.
How to be involved:
a) If you want to attend you can buy a ticket here: http://goo.gl/8g5h4S
b) If you work at a retailer in transition please ping us for an invite & feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
c) If you want to speak at the event you can apply here: http://goo.gl/0s5aQI
d) If you are broke and a founder/technologist with passion, we have 15 scholarships available for pre-funding
e) If you want to help keep the lights on and be one of the four presenting partners email email@example.com
f) If you are working press -- on assignment covering the event -- apply here: http://goo.gl/ePjsDn
g) We will not be live streaming the event, but some content will be released as This Week in Startups episodes: www.thisweekinstartups.com
Thanks to my friends at Pivotal Labs for partnering with me on this awesome event.
best @Jason Calacanis & the LAUNCH team
Related founders on the show:
Gowalla 12/3/2010: http://youtu.be/SGVp7XoYRaU
Dwolla 9/17/2013: http://youtu.be/BFeSgN1cQhg
Uber (1) 8/16/2011: http://youtu.be/550X5OZVk7Y
Uber (2) 3/4/2014: http://youtu.be/u_Baur8sT_8
StyleSeat: not yet, but we’re booking Melody soon!