Rideshare advertising startup Firefly launches with $21.5M in funding – TechCrunch

Firefly, a startup that permits rideshare drivers to earn money via virtual advertising, is formally launching these days. It’s additionally introduced that it has raised $21.five million in seed funding.

The thought of sticking advertising on a cab isn’t new, however Firefly provides drivers what it calls a “digital smart screen,” permitting advertisers to run focused, geofenced campaigns. The corporate has it seems that run greater than 50 advert campaigns already, throughout a beta trying out length in San Francisco and Los Angeles, with masses of automobiles at the highway.

“Being the first at building out the IP is going to be the main differentiator,” mentioned co-founder and CEO Kaan Gunay. “Over half our team are engineers, and we have been extremely focused on developing core IP to make sure it’s scalable.”

In addition, Gunay mentioned that because of the combo of Firefly’s focused on functions with its “strict” advertising insurance policies (it gained’t settle for advertisements for strip golf equipment, tobacco and hashish corporations, amongst others), “We’re working with a lot of advertisers who might not even have advertised outdoors before. We believe we are expanding the market.”

One of the primary targets is to permit drivers for Uber, Lyft and different ridehailing products and services to earn more money. In truth, Firefly says the typical motive force in its community makes an extra $300 monthly.

Firefly

Gunay defined that if the driving force meets a definite threshold for hours at the highway, the corporate can pay them a flat charge to hold its advertising — however he additionally mentioned the corporate is exploring alternative ways to “maximize the revenue that we share with the drivers and give the maximum benefit to the drivers.”

It’s a topic on regulators’ minds as neatly, with New York just lately approving new laws round motive force repayment.

Earlier this 12 months, Uber partnered with a startup referred to as Cargo to permit drivers to make further source of revenue by means of promoting items like gum, snacks and make contact with chargers. Firefly doesn’t have an legit courting with the ridehailing corporations, however Gunay mentioned, “In our conversations with these large companies … they’ve said the drivers are free to do what they want to do. This is why it’s a win for everyone.”

Gunay additionally mentioned those presentations will turn into the basis for a “smart city data network.” In different phrases, they are going to accumulate information that Firefly plans to percentage with native governments and nonprofit teams. For instance, he mentioned the corporate has already been sharing air high quality information with the Coalition for Clean Air, and it’s additionally taking a look to incorporate temperature sensors and accelerometers.

Apparently, Gunay doesn’t plan to earn money from this aspect of the trade. He advised me, “We want to be able to add value to how cities operate … We’re not planning to monetize that.”

Getting again to the funding, $21.five million is a large seed spherical, however Gunay mentioned the corporate’s luck to this point was once ready to”justify a bigger elevate and the next valuation.” The spherical was once led by means of NfX, Pelion Venture Partners, Decent Capital (based by means of Tencent’s Jason Zeng) and Jeffrey Housenbold of SoftBank Vision Fund (sure, that SoftBank Vision Fund).

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