Washington, D.C.-based startup TransitScreen is expanding at an unstoppable rate.
A few times a month, a new email comes in from the company’s news listserv announcing a new expansion into a new city. There’s the May expansion into Orlando in partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation’s “reThink Your Commute” program. Or the two new partnerships with the University of Pittsburgh and Bozzuto Management Company announced on the same day in April. TransitScreen also brought on Connie Moore, former president and CEO of BRE Properties, as a board member and strategic adviser in April.
All of the expansion news culminates in a new partnership with Panasonic North America announced at the end of June.
In an interview, TransitScreen co-founder and COO Ryan Croft said the startup has been going through an identity change or expansion, of sorts. When they first launched in 2013, TransitScreen saw itself as a government aid. The technology collects real-time public transportation schedules and local traffic data to help commuters get around cities efficiently. (D.C. residents and commuters might recognize TransitScreen’s products in some of the metro stations and newer trains.) But now, they’re seeing themselves becoming an imperative tool for real estate and commercial buildings, too.
“At the start, we thought this would be more of a government solution, and we would sell it to cities and federal government, but that proved to be pretty challenging,” Croft said. “Early on, starting on with JBG companies in D.C., we realized that ‘Wow, real estate is our core customer base.'”
In February, TransitScreen announced a partnership with JLL, a real estate and investment management firm with nearly 300 corporate offices. Through the partnership, they’re bringing their screens to building lobbies across all of JLL’s offices.
By the end of the summer, the company says they’ll hit 1,000 total locations across North America, which they estimate means about 15 million will be walking by their technology every month.
That’s pretty much what the new real estate products will look like — displays in the lobbies of various real estate properties.
“It makes sense — the value of any real estate is the location,” Croft said. “Our software is trying to point out what’s near by and how you can get around a city from that location.”
As TransitScreen works to bring its screens from government entities into more places like corporate and apartment building lobbies — and even jukeboxes at bars — the new partnership with Panasonic is TransitScreen’s way of marrying its two core customer bases.
“We get really excited because we think we have real estate down, and we’re seeing a lot of growth there,” Croft said. “But where Panasonic brings a lot of value is that they’re in so many other places outside of the building, so on street kiosks, in arenas and stadiums, in transit stations and airports. Think about resorts in Las Vegas or tropical resorts.”
“We see it as a way that we can expand our reach through this Panasonic partnership and really get it into places that can reach more people.”
Together, Panasonic and TransitScreen will bring Internet of Things applications to smart cities throughout the country, starting in Denver. With the City of Denver, Panasonic plans to roll out a series of initiatives in the city, including a microgrid energy storage solution for the airport; the deployment of smart LED streetlights at the airport and other initiatives tied around Denver’s new light rail system.
The D.C. area is really government focused, but I think a lot of people really overlook how talented the real estate pool is in D.C
“Partnering with TransitScreen allows Panasonic to augment its CityNOW solutions in transportation and mobility with rich transportation data, supporting all types of mobility customers,” said Tom Gebhardt, Panasonic Corporation of North America Chairman and CEO, in a statement announcing the partnership in June. “TransitScreen’s IoT technologies will create a smoother, more seamless experience for residents and visitors alike in key cities by providing people with the transit and local event information they need right when they need it.”
Looking forward, the TransitScreen team is looking at new markets where they know they can increase their impact. They’re looking at other customer bases like the hospitality and hotel industry or co-working spaces (they have partnerships at MakeOffices, they’re in 1776). They’re asking questions about how many people will be exposed to their screens in those towns or centers.
The goal? To have 100 million people looking at their screens every day. “It’s a pretty lofty goal, but working with a major multimillion dollar conglomerate like Panasonic is a good way to get there fast,” Croft said.
With the expansion of markets, of course, comes hiring. The team has offices in D.C., New York City and Portland, Oregon. Croft said the company is hiring aggressively with a focus on its sales and marketing team. In January 2015, they hired their first salaried employee and going into July, the company is at a headcount of 22.
“The D.C. area is really government focused, but I think a lot of people really overlook how talented the real estate pool is in D.C., and I don’t know why that is,” Croft said. “We benefited tremendously from working with JBG, Bozzuto, AvalonBay, and they’re all based in the D.C. area.”
Images courtesy of TransitScreen