Street art has always been a part of cities, but social media has given street art, specifically murals, a completely new dimension of exposure. Downtown districts, brands, and property owners all understand the powerful link between murals and foot traffic. Beautify has built a three-sided marketplace that connects property owners, brands, and artists. Beautify handles payments, insurance, project management, and permitting of all projects, and offers two basic transaction types – Mural creation and Wall Rental. Mural Creation matches artists with property owners and brands, and Wall Rentals matches brands with property owners, who are exploring opportunities to monetize their walls. Beautify’s brand partners include Starbucks, Sheraton, and Lexus, and Beautify has wall listings across LA including Venice, Sherman Oaks, and Santa Monica.
LA TechWatch sat down with CEO and Cofounder Evan Meyer to learn more aboutBeautify’s business and its broader mission.
What product or service does Beautify offer?
Beautify is a platform that connects artists, vacant walls, and brand sponsors to empower the creation of street art.
Beautify is a three-sided marketplace allowing:
- Property owners to post their walls for artists and brands to bid on.
- Artists search our wall inventory to find mural opportunities.
- Brands can discover artists and walls for their marketing campaigns.
In addition, our platform eliminates numerous other pain points for these stakeholders, including payments, permitting, insurance, project management, and analytics.
Tell us a little about your background and what inspired Beautify.
I met my cofounder, Paul Shustak, in 2017, and we both had companies based at Cross Campus. At the time, I was running a nonprofit, Beautifyearth.org, and Paul had just visited Wynwood in Miami – a community that has been transformed through street art – and the larger potential of my nonprofit dawned on him.
I felt that technology would be needed in order to scale this mission, so in spring 2018, we started discussing the idea of building a technology platform for my non-profit or possibly spinning off a for-profit. In spring 2019, Paul’s startup was acquired, and he was looking for the next phase of his career. I had also exited my company, so the time was right for both of us to explore the idea more deeply. After pitching the idea to some angel investor friends, we realized we were onto something and Beautify was incorporated in March 2019.
How is Beautify different?
Beautify is a new form of native advertising that puts community first, and not billboards.
We are building technology that drives the revitalization of entire neighborhoods by creating art that beautifies unused walls, increases foot traffic, and creates destinations.
What market is Beautify attacking and how big is it?
Based on the total addressable market for all the verticals we touch, we think this is a $42B opportunity in the US.
- Graffiti abatement (removing graffiti vandalism) – $12B.
- Commercial Painting – $16B.
- Outdoor Ads – $11B.
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – $3B.
What is the business model?
Like any other modern marketplace (e.g. Lyft, Airbnb) we take a percentage of all transactions. There are two basic transaction types:
- Mural creation – Our platform matches artists with property owners and brands. It also handles payments, insurance, project management, and permitting.
- Wall rentals – We match brands with property owners who are seeking to monetize their walls. Brands are willing to pay these fees in order to obtain prime walls that reach their target demographic.
In addition to the above, we also offer add-ons such as:
- Maintenance plans.
- Content packages that tell the story of the mural’s creation.
- Augmented reality overlays.
Who do you consider to be your primary competitors?
We are currently the only purpose-built platform for mural creation so there is no direct competition. Our indirect competitors fall into three categories:
Mural contractors/brokers – Service providers that work with brands and agencies to find walls/artists and manage mural production. These are generally small-scale operations that do not have technology platforms.
Street-focused agencies – Service providers such as Seen Outdoor and Colossal Media that handle both production and creative. Brands often engage them directly, but they also work with larger agencies. They do not have technology platforms.
General-purpose marketplaces – Platforms such as Craigslist and Thumbtack that property owners can use to find a muralist. These fail to address many landlord pain points, nor do they serve the needs of brands.
Our platform is built to provide many opportunities to all of those looking to create art in our communities, even to those currently in the above categories.
Tell us what building your company in LA has been like?
LA’s thriving economic ecosystem has enabled Beautify to go from idea to reality. The base of tech and design talent here makes it possible for us to build literally anything without being constrained by talent. And the networks of artists, brands and property owners have enabled us to achieve proof of concept without venturing far from our own backyard. From a capital perspective, LA is one of the top cities in the world for receiving venture capital investments, and from the get-go we have found investors willing to back us and help manifest this vision that is Beautify.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Build out automated workflow in its entirety so buyers and sellers can execute projects without our intervention. Achieve 500 platform facilitated murals. Scale the business.
What does being “Made in LA” mean to you and your company?
Being Made in LA for us means that we have brought something into the world because it deserves to exist – not just because some software engineers stumbled onto a new widget one weekend. We purposefully architected Beautify to solve a pressing need in our world. We purposefully came together, recruited our team, found early adopters from brands and property owners, and leaned into LAs world-class pool of artistic talent to prove a model that we believe can scale and positively impact communities across all borders.
We purposefully architected Beautify to solve a pressing need in our world. We purposefully came together, recruited our team, found early adopters from brands and property owners, and leaned into LAs world-class pool of artistic talent to prove a model that we believe can scale and positively impact communities across all borders.
Being Made in LA, to us, means being made with purpose.
What else can be done to promote early stage entrepreneurship in Los Angeles?
Entrepreneurship comes from an incredible amount of self-confidence that the vision you have is what the world needs. One way to promote this sort of career path is to encourage those at the tipping point of becoming an entrepreneur to pursue the change they want to see in the world, while ensuring they have the confidence and determination to see it through. This is more of a life path and mentality, than a career choice. It’s the path and heart of a warrior. If you want to promote early stage entrepreneurship in LA, you’ll need to create more loving warriors.
What is your favorite restaurant in LA?
Leo’s Tacos Truck on La Brea & Venice. The BEST al pastor!