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TransitScreen Growing Rapidly With Smart City Partnership, New Products

Four years since launching in Ballston and creating its first display of real-time public transit options, TransitScreen is an international company with nearly 1,000 screens in 33 different cities that are seen by an estimated 15 million people each month. With a major new partnership to launch in smart cities and with three new products in development, TransitScreen's co-founders say it is just in the second inning of its growth. 

TransitScreen co-founder Ryan Croft next to the TransitScreen in the 1776 incubator

When TransitScreen was formed out of a Mobility Lab project in Arlington, co-founders Matt Caywood and Ryan Croft thought its main customers would be local governments. They soon found out that there was much greater demand from property owners and managers, and before they knew it, TransitScreen was a real estate tech company. 

After forming partnerships with firms such as The JBG Cos., AvalonBay, Bozzuto and JLL, TransitScreen now collects 60% of its revenues from real estate companies. Croft said the recent development boom, coupled with the increasing use of ride-sharing, bike-sharing and other mass transit services, has been key to the company's growth.

"There’s an audience for what we create," Croft said. "There’s a business model, and, more than anything, it’s just good timing from a development perspective. Real estate is in a boom right now, which we’re benefiting from, but also there’s a mobility revolution going on, which is undeniable."

The TransitScreen outside Gallery Place and the Verizon Center

Croft said two real estate sectors in particular have been driving its recent growth: hospitality and co-working. The company formed a partnership in November with D.C.-based MakeOffices to install screens in all of its co-working spaces. Croft said it has also partnered with The Wharf to install screens in each of its hotels and in public spaces throughout the 1.4M SF waterfront development opening in October. 

“The builders and the city recognize this is a new development, the biggest in [the] city, and transportation is going to be a challenge,” Croft said. “Giving people options and letting them know how to get there and how to get home is important.”  

The company has also installed screens in high-traffic locations like D.C.'s Gallery Place and Boston's Fenway Park. As it continues to grow its presence in real estate projects, Croft said a major new partnership with a technology company has him most excited about TransitScreen's growth. 

A rendering of Peña Station Next, Panasonic's Smart City development in Denver

TransitScreen last month formed a partnership with tech giant Panasonic that Croft said will skyrocket its expansion far beyond building lobbies. 

With the partnership, Panasonic will integrate TransitScreens at the 400-acre smart city it is building in Denver, Peña Station Next. Sitting near a rail stop in between the Denver International Airport and downtown Denver, the project currently has one completed office building, occupied by Panasonic, but will have many more components delivering over the next 10 to 20 years. The smart city will have features such as autonomous shuttles, a solar grid, citywide WiFi, smart kitchens, and with the latest partnership, TransitScreens. 

Croft said Panasonic's Denver development will be used as a test case for how to integrate technology into everyday life, and the tech company may install TransitScreens in future smart cities. He also expects the Panasonic partnership will lead to the installation of TransitScreens in several new types of crowded public destinations. 

"It's a key piece of growing as a company, because it’s opening up markets we didn’t even look at before," Croft said of the Panasonic partnership. "We’re too focused on real estate today, whereas they’re focused on stadiums, arenas, street kiosks, transit stations, airports, resorts, just places we weren’t focused on."  

TransitScreen co-founders Ryan Croft and Matt Caywood at 2201 Wilson Blvd. in Arlington

While TransitScreen so far has focused on finding new places to install its data-displaying visual product, the company is experimenting with new products to utilize its technology in different ways. By the end of this year, TransitScreen plans to unveil three new products centered around location analytics data.

One of the products will be aimed at helping capital markets brokers and lenders get a better understanding of a specific location. The other two will be a consumer product and a product for enterprise, but Croft could not get into more detail. 

"We think it's becoming more of a suite of location analytics products, and TransitScreen will be one of those," Croft said. "We're going deeper geographically and with broader reach, but also wider, with different product lines that have a completely different customer. That’s where we see exciting growth."

With all of this growth, the company continues to expand its workforce. Croft and Caywood hired their first employee in January 2015 and are up to a workforce of 20, with 12 of those in their D.C. HQ at the 1776 accelerator. The company has raised $2M through two rounds of seed funding. Croft said he is looking to move to a bigger office within the District this year, and he plans to hire several more people on the sales and marketing side. 

"We have invested a lot in the product, and now we’ve hit our sales growth stage of the company," Croft said. "That’s where a heavy focus will be over the next six to 12 months."