Urban Umbrella Raises $9 Million in Series B Funding to Accelerate NYC Expansion
Latest Funding Round Will Fuel Design-Forward Scaffolding Maker’s Growth In a Vast Market Dominated By Incumbents and Ripe For Disruption
NEW YORK, October 16, 2020-- Urban Umbrella, New York City’s first scaffolding design alternative, today announced it has raised $9 million in Series B funding from a group of investors that includes some of NYC’s most strategic real estate developers and building owners.
Consisting of $7 million of equity and $2 million of debt, the capital, which brings the total raised by Urban Umbrella to $18 million. The capital infusion will enable increased fabrication of its flagship product, expansion of its product line into new market categories, and making key hires, in order to accelerate the company’s expansion in New York City, the world’s largest scaffolding market.
Urban Umbrella’s flagship product is the revolutionary, cross-bracing-free sidewalk shed composed of high-strength steel, translucent plastic panels, LED lighting, and white arching struts that combine the strength of a highway bridge and the beauty of a work of art.
“We’re excited to close this round of funding, which was oversubscribed,” said Benjamin Krall, Urban Umbrella’s Founder and CEO. “Disrupting an industry this traditional has not been easy. It took us four years to perfect the product and educate property owners of its value, but we are proud of what we’ve achieved on this front. To date, our problem hasn’t been demand, despite our price which is three times higher than the industry average. Each of our installations is an advertisement for the product and we get inbound inquiries all day without doing marketing. Instead, our problem has been capacity, the ability to manufacture enough product to meet demand. This capital will allow us to scale up aggressively, sustainably, and efficiently. We are doubling-down on New York City.”
The company expects to achieve profitability this year.
Urban Umbrella’s clear polymer resin roofs allow 90-percent light transmission, giving the structures an airy feeling, but are tested for small missile impact, ensuring safety for both pedestrians and contractors.
"We have the safest product on the market and while aesthetics are a priority for our clients, safety is our biggest differentiator and what we take the most pride in,” Krall added.
In fact, the Urban Umbrella’s aesthetically pleasing sidewalk shed alternative can be made into a marketing opportunity and are often customized with LED lighting, color overlays, and signage to display building, store, and restaurant names and branding. Lighting gives Urban Umbrella scaffolding a distinctive elegance at night, while increasing pedestrian safety and deterring crime.
“Urban Umbrella’s solution was perfect for 101 Park Avenue,” said Peter Kalikow, President of H.J. Kalikow & Company, one of New York City's leading real estate firms. “It provided attractive and effective protection for the property as we undertook our work. Many tenants and visitors commented very positively on the outstanding appearance of the product.”
As of early October 2020, Urban Umbrella scaffolding and sidewalk sheds were installed on 87 buildings, with another 25 in the pipeline.
During New York City’s shutdown from March to June 2020, Urban Umbrella was deemed an “essential” business and was among the handful of contractors allowed to work. Throughout this unprecedented four-month period, the company saw significant growth, executing 25 new installations and closing 20 new contracts valued at over $5 million.
Deal volume has since increased further, fueled by property owners’ concerns that their ground-floor retail tenants could go out of business altogether. Currently, Urban Umbrella’s market share in New York City stands at one percent. The company also has installations in Toronto and Vancouver, Canada.
The company’s scaffolding has become the product of choice for developers, building owners, and general contractors, including Savanna Fund, Sciame Construction, Gilbane Building Company, The Feil Organization, GFP Real Estate, Lendlease Group, George Comfort & Sons, and Hines.
The product has recently been installed at Seven World Trade Center, New York-Presbyterian’s Milstein Hospital, One Court Square, The General Electric building, an FDNY fire station in Times Square, Ralph Lauren flagship, Louis Vuitton flagship, the Museum of Arts and Design, as well as churches, restaurants, and schools throughout New York City, including Avenues: The World School.
Pre-pandemic, Urban Umbrella was entering new market categories and debuting ancillary products, including a trompe l’oeil silkscreen safety mesh that can be printed with the exact replica of the building it is covering, or another image of the client’s choosing, and works in conjunction with Urban Umbrella’s sidewalk shed.
The pandemic accelerated Urban Umbrella’s campaign to unlock alternative market segments for its product.
In August 2020, the company debuted its new “COVID-19 Comeback Kit,” a suite of solutions to enable customers ranging from office owners, retailers, grocery stores, restaurateurs, hospitals, and schools to use Urban Umbrella structures for COVID-19 mitigation and socially-distanced queue management. Schools, including Brooklyn LAB Charter Schools, are among the comeback kit’s early adopters, which includes outdoor heaters and hand sanitizer dispensers, among a range of other customizations.
Another new market category for Urban Umbrella: interior scaffolding and rooftop scaffolding installations.
At Savanna Fund’s One Court Square, Urban Umbrella installed its scaffolding product inside the Long Island City skyscraper’s 5,000-square-foot lobby. The lobby is undergoing a renovation as the building, which is nearly vacant, attempts to attract new commercial tenants following Amazon’s scrapping of its plans for a LIC headquarters. Urban Umbrella’s interior installation has enabled lobby renovation work to move forward while tenants come in and out of the building without disruption to the quality of their building experience.
Urban Umbrella is also installed on the exterior of One Court Square, protecting the exterior sidewalk surrounding the building as well as the building courtyard, creating a cohesive experience indoors and outdoors. One Court Square is Urban Umbrella’s largest installation to date.
Urban Umbrella completed a similar installation at New York Presbyterian’s Milstein Hospital 4,000-square-foot lobby.
About Urban Umbrella
Urban Umbrella is the designer, patent holder, and fabricator of the only alternative scaffolding bridge on the market that is approved by The New York Department of Building. The unique product is the first design substitute for traditional scaffolding in over 60 years. In an International design competition with over 260 contestants, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri proclaimed Urban Umbrella the new exemplar of scaffolding for NYC. The Urban Umbrella design was chosen to help improve quality of life, reduce construction impacts on businesses, increase pedestrian safety, and increase available space for pedestrians on sidewalks. Additional information about Urban Umbrella available at https://www.urbanumbrella.com/
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