Projections on Cars? Adway Gets Funding to Pioneer an Unusual Advertising Method

Caitlin Cook
Caitlin Cook is an editorial intern at dot.LA, currently earning her master's degree in mass communication from California State University, Northridge. A devoted multimedia journalist with an interest in both tech and entertainment, Cook also works as a reporter and production assistant for MUSE TV. She got her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Filmmaking from University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Culver City-based Adway is offering Uber and Lyft drivers hundreds of dollars every month to project ads on the sides of their cars.

So far, the company has signed up about two dozen drivers in Los Angeles, where competitor Firefly faced fierce pushback a few years ago from city officials who sought to ban digital ads on moving vehicles.

Adway promises drivers $50-$350 a month in what they call "passive" income. All the drivers have to do is install a small device that sits just underneath their vehicle's side view mirrors.

CEO and co-founder Sasha Krylov said his wife deserves much of the credit for the idea. A feature on a car she saw called a "puddle light," which projects a logo or image on the ground when one of the doors is opened, caught her attention. She felt the image was trying to communicate something.

"I told her it was just a gimmicky logo," Krylov said. "But I thought to myself, 'what if she was right?'"

It was this epiphany that eventually led Krylov to this moment. Last week, the nearly three-year-old company clinched a $6 million seed round led by Upfront Ventures.

Among its advertisers are Webex by Cisco and poke restaurant Sweetfin. Adway gives these companies an estimate of how many impressions their ads made by determining how many Bluetooth devices came within a certain radius of the vehicle. Krylov said this one-way communication system does not collect personal data from the devices.

Krylov decided to project on the side of the car because, according to him, it was his only option. In his research, he learned that it was illegal in California to project an image on the ground, as the puddle lights do, when the vehicle is moving. The same went for the front and the back of the automobile.

"The only thing that was left, really, was the side of the car," said Krylov. "Coincidentally enough, the side of the car presents the largest possible real estate on the body of the car, which any advertiser would want to capitalize on."

Another early concern was the mere fact that projections do not show up well in daylight, meaning that Adway drivers can only make impressions on customers between dusk and dawn. At first, Krylov worried that this could be a limitation for the company, but he has seen only promising results.

"To our surprise, [it] actually makes a lot of sense if you think about this," Krylov explained. "A lot of traffic is actually concentrated in the evening, between 4 and 7pm, and if we're not talking about summertime, it goes dark around 4, 4:30. And people are more prone to making purchasing decisions after work hours rather than before."

Despite this, looking into hardware options in the future that can allow these projections to be seen during the day is also on the docket for Adway.

"This is what we're building this technology towards," said Krylov. "We just need to start somewhere, and somewhere is now, because there's still a tremendous amount of the market to be seized, and there's an opportunity for us to build a community of intellectual property around this today."

Adway's method of advertising has the potential to stir up controversy. A couple of years ago, L.A. city councilman Bob Blumenfield wrote an op-ed for the "Los Angeles Daily News" condemning San Francisco-based Firefly for their similar advertising method of digital billboards on the roofs of rideshare vehicles.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.