By Jennifer Van Grove, San Diego Union Tribune
San Diego car-wrapping startup Wrapify is padding its bank account Tuesday with a $3 million check from Fortune 500 packaging giant Avery Dennison.
Launched in mid 2015, Wrapify pays people to drive around town in their own vehicles. The catch is that their cars are covered with an advertiser’s message. The startup’s claim to fame is a custom-built formula for measuring the number of people who see its ads on the road at any given time.
“Avery Dennison has been supporting Wrapify pretty much from day one,” said James Heller, CEO of the 19-person ad-tech company. “Not only are they a supplier of the film we apply to these vehicles … but they’ve really just helped us grow the business.”
Currently, Wrapify runs car-wrapping campaigns in 29 U.S. markets. It plans to expand to another 21 more before the end of the year using the new funds. The company also hopes to take over more of the outdoor advertising market, which includes traditional billboards and bus wraps.
Last year, U.S. advertisers spent more than $7.5 billion on these types of ads, according to digital analytics firm eMarketer.
Thus far, more than 40,000 would-be drivers have signed up with Wrapify to turn their personal cars into moving billboards, Heller said, and roughly 1,000 have been selected to participate in campaigns on behalf of clients such as Microsoft and Anheuser-Busch.
With this latest infusion of cash, Wrapify has amassed a total of $6.1 million in financing.
The raise, however, trails the departure of technical co-founder Phil Chen, which might otherwise raise a red flag. Chen left the young company he helped start late last year to work for Amazon in San Diego. Chen, said Heller, maintains an equity stake in Wrapify.
In 2016, the first company’s first full-year of operations, Wrapify’s sales came in just shy of $3 million. Over the next 12 months, the startup aims to bring in $10 million in revenue.