Prague-based Manifesto Market raises millions to create food and retail popup spaces across Europe

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Prague-based Manifesto Market, a proptech and hospitality initiative focusing on food and retail popups, has just announced the closing of a seven-digit growth equity investment from Rockaway, which it will use to expand its model in the Czech Republic and globally.

Manifesto Market set up shop in a derelict desert of Prague where was nothing but dust, waste, noise, garbage, and emptiness – transforming it into a cashless food and culture market. The initiative has turned the former wasteland into one of the city’s most vibrant areas, attracting more than 650,000 visitors – equal to half of Prague’s entire population – within a year. In addition to food and retail popups, Manifesto also offers local artisanal products, daily free cultural programs, top local DJs, performances, and classes.

Manifesto Market’s second season began on March 15, with retailers including house plant and natural cosmetics expert Haenke, the flower shop Provoní, special bookstore Book Therapy and cannabis-based products from Cannor. As far as gastronomy, Italian, Asian, Mexican, and vegan cuisine will be represented.

“I began Manifesto Market with the goal to create a highly curated experience focused on food and culture on unused land in the heart of Prague,” explained Manifesto founder Martin Barry. “We aim to provide a low cost of entry for independent retail and gastro entrepreneurs working next to experienced brands, and to do it in a creative environment. The public reaction has been beyond our expectations, and has brought me multiple offers locally and around the world to pursue new sites and collaborations. Our initial vision has expanded because I want to develop a space-as-a-service proptech company, to provide solutions in a rapidly changing retail and gastro environment.”

Manifesto is the first cashless space ever in the Czech republic. However, cashless spaces are increasingly being seen as an elitist form of gentrification, and so Manifesto provides visitors with a card that they can top up with cash for those who might not have access to a credit card.

“The investment will allow us to build an experienced team to expand locally and internationally, and build the digital tools that will optimise property operations and offer a pleasant interface for our community to improve their experience,” added Barry. “This part is where we see a huge non-financial advantage of Rockaway, thanks to their experience and expert team from the online world. This partnership allows us to merge the physical and digital with a very unique experience.”

The funding will be used in part to open a second Manifesto Market in Prague’s Smichov district in 2019. International expansion is also being planned, with organisers in advanced negotiations for a site in Western Europe. In 2019, Manifesto will hire a new team and offer senior and junior job opportunities in management, digital technologies, marketing and architecture.