House of Enplug to expand exponentially into new cities in 2014

Posted on December 2, 2013


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LOS ANGELES (Built In) — Meet Enplug, a team that collaborates around the clock… literally. The five co-founders have lived together since day one. Just over a year later, with more than 20 employees and an expansion of their operations to more than 30 cities, most of them still live under the same roof and are working to develop and market a new digital billboard at a rapid pace.

“It was the cheapest apartment we could find: $1,000 total for the five of us, one bedroom,” said Nanxi Liu, Enplug co-founder. “We just started building the product.”

The product is a digital billboard sold to restaurants and bars, among other venues. But unlike a static billboard, it’s highly social. People can send over multiple forms of media such as Twitter posts and photos to be displayed on the Billboard in real time. This makes the billboard experience far more interactive for advertisers, and more entertaining for venues to host.

“It was going to be valuable for the venues that have it, it was going to be entertaining for all of the people using it and tweeting at it, and it was going to be very effective for advertisers,” Liu said.

And what ended up happening was greater than she had hoped for. Into its first month on the market, Liu has reported locking in six-figure revenue contracts. And into next year, Enplug is positioned to expand nationwide from 30 to 1,000 locations – and to announce exciting new partnerships still under wraps.

Liu said the company vets their venues to make sure each venue is “a popular social place and a place that’s crowded.” Some venues include Rita’s Italian Ice, LA’s top Korean BBQ Moo Dae Po, and Amoeba Music, the world’s largest independent record store. And while these venues had an existing social media presence, Enplug increased their clients’ social media interactions by an average of 500 percent.

The team enjoys watching customers interact on the Enplug screens, which includes posts and pictures by celebrities with a large number of social media followers. This makes “venue owners fly over the moon,” Liu said. It’s also better indicates the value of the product. Instead of just charging advertisers for board displays, the venues are now also very willing to pay for the product.

And as for the team, five co-founders work harmoniously together – which has gained the house of Enplug press attention. Liu described the atmosphere as “cult-like,” but “fun.” While it is quite possible for there to be tension between five co-founders working toward one vision, Liu said the product has enough complexity to properly compartmentalize tasks.

Alex Ross oversees software and technology development, while Navdeep Reddy oversees hardware. Zach Spitulski manages design and creative and David Zhu deals with on the ground operations and installation. Meanwhile, Liu, the company’s CEO, says she takes care of the “housekeeping.”

“I would always say people are the most important and because we’ve been really thoughtful about the people we’ve brought onto our team, that’s what’s helped us grow,” she said. The team of around 20 got a 5,500-square foot space in Culver City, but 13 of them still live in the same house.

Besides living and working amicably together, the Enplug team’s goal is to transform the millions of billboards across the world to be more interactive and implement a “new media platform that doesn’t exist right now,” Liu said.

“That becomes really powerful.”

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