Prague’s Manifesto Market receives new investment from Rockaway Capital, eyes expansion

Czech retail space Manifesto Market has received a growth equity investment from e-commerce investor group Rockaway Capital. The cooperation aims at developing the digital customer experience, and on growing the company into a global proptech and hospitality brand.

Manifesto Market is a gastronomical paradise located in the heart of Prague that is changing the concept of retail. Its mission is to revive and vitalise an area which was unfriendly and inaccessible despite its central location. Last year, 650,000 people visited Manifesto and a further four million were reached on social media.

“Our mission is much broader now as we want to become the world number one when it comes to the pop-up retail industry,” founder Martin Barry tells Emerging Europe. “This sector is outdated, especially in Europe and we can provide an innovative model. We have focused so far on the real estate and the cultural aspects and now we are ready to integrate them with technology. Thanks to our cashless model we are building a more efficient form of property management.”

“The partnership with Rockaway helps us meet our three goals as a start-up: we need to stabilise the team with real experts; we need to have a better and stable image when we ask for financing projects; and we need to integrate the technology. In cities like Prague we are trying to improve the delivery service, as the current applications are not efficient. We already have over twenty restaurants in our market that can be grouped on one page and make food delivery more productive,” Mr Barry explains.

Mr Barry, a US landscape architect who moved permanently to the Czech Republic in 2015, founded reSITE, a global non-profit acting to improve the urban environment. As in several countries of Central and Eastern Europe, there are huge opportunities for innovation and the implementation of new technologies.

“If you tell people about the change, they are going to hate it. But if you make them experience the change it is different. We carried out our own survey and 96 per cent of respondents believe in the positive impact of technology. Whether we like this change or not, it is coming. All payments are digital now and even plastic cards will be outdated,” he adds.

“We do not want to become like Starbucks and McDonalds that open places everywhere. We are building a model that can be replicated, but taking into account that each location has it own culture, and its own taste. We will keep our technology but we need to adapt it to new cultures. We tend to select dense, underused areas and turn them into vibrant places,” Mr Barry concludes.