Interactive kiosk start-up Elevate Digital lands $2.7M

Steven Loeb · May 30, 2012 · Short URL:

Interactive technology company integrates advertising and social media

We are living in an increasingly wireless world, where traditional advertising rules no longer apply.  Once static signs can now provide more information, just with a few taps of your finger.  

Digital interactive technology company Elevate Digital announced Thursday that it's raised $2.7 million in Series A funding, led by Advantage Capital Partners and Metropolitan Capital Bank. Prior to this round, company founder George Burciaga poured in $1.6 million of his own capital.

Chicago-based Elevate Digital, which was until recently known as smartDigital, is the maker of street-level interactive kiosks that integrate social media and advertising. It has partnered with Groupon, the Chicago Tribune and Metromix.

In an interview with VatorNews, Burciaga said that his company is doing things that no other company has done before, by “changing the way ads are constructed.”

They do this by allowing users to interact with advertisements that will lead them to purchase deals, movie tickets, find out where to eat, take pictures or even find out where to get local transportation.

It is social media in an outdoor setting, Burciaga says. It allows people to interact without even needing their phone.

For example, the Kiosk may have an advertisement for a movie, such as the new Batman movie coming out next month. The interactive advertisement, which the user would click on, would lead them to be able to buy tickets to the movie through the kiosk and then post the interaction on a social media site.

“We own the ability to change the way people communicate,” Burciaga says.

The kiosks are located in high traffic areas, and make money based on ad revenue, as well as through deals such as Elevate Digital’s partnership with Groupon, which allows people to buy Groupon daily deals at the kiosks, and then either print them out or have them sent to their phones.

The fact that users are being asked to participate in social media advertising, rather than just looking at an ad, allows Elevate Digital to build a metrix of user data based on how many people choose each advertisement. It is a quantifiable number based on the actions of the userbase.

Elevate announced a new product line, including Elevate wall, Elevate glass and other formats for their kiosks.

The future of Elevate Digital

Elevate Digital is based in Chicago and currently has 100 kiosks, which they will be expanding to 200 by the end of the year.

Elevate Digital kiosks are currently being installed in downtown Miami, and will be in New York City in the next two months. The company is planning a 10 market deployment in the next 36 months, and plans to become a national presence.

The company, which has been around since August 2011, currently sees 18% monthly growth in impressions.

The ultimate plan, Burciaga says, is to have one million transactions, which does not mean that the customer even has to buy anything, per market every quarter. The machines currently have half a million monthly transactions.

If all goes well for Elevate Digital, it won't go the same way of Ecast, which had to shut down its jukebox music service in March after it could no longer afford to keep operating them.

Ecast jukeboxes allowed users to download songs, interact on social media and make cashless payments. The jukeboxes still operate, but are no longer connected to the network and can only play songs on the hard drive.

The lesson from Ecast is how hard it can be to maintain individually operated kiosks. But if Elevate Digital can continue to make money off its advertisements, it should be able to avoid falling into this trap.

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