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One year after graduating from the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator’s first class of startups in NYC, the online parking marketplace Parking Panda is launching an iPhone application and expanding its coverage to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Parking Panda was particularly interesting at launch because it offered home owners a way to rent their unused parking spaces, something that could be particularly profitable during major sporting events. But over the past year, the company has learned that striking deals with large parking garages is an easier way to expand its service.
“It’s easier to work with garages because they can now sort of apply ‘big data’ analytics to parking,” said Nick Miller, Parking Panda’s cofounder and CEO, in an interview with VentureBeat. He added that the company is doing a lot on the backend to help garages optimize their yield and pricing.
Parking Panda’s free new iPhone app lets you find and reserve parking spots on the service. It’s an upgrade from Parking Panda’s mobile website, which users on other mobile platforms can still take advantage of.
Miller and the rest of his team have learned a lot about parking spaces since founding the company. “We found that while the peer-to-peer model was incredibly effective for this space, the parking industry itself was really sort of old school … but it’s on the precipice of technology revolution,” he said. “Now we’re seeing lots of innovations in the parking space.”
Around 85 percent of Parking Panda’s volume comes from commercial parking garages, while 15 percent comes from private homeowners. Miller said the company is still seeing “solid growth” on the private end, and the company isn’t thinking of moving away from that offering anytime soon. Miller himself has taken advantage of private parking spaces recently, and he says that homeowners can easily make between $300 to $400 a month by offering up their parking spots.
Parking Panda will next target Austin, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, which should greatly expand the company’s inventory of parking spaces. Currently, Parking Panda has more than 20,000 parking spaces available for rent in Baltimore (where the company was founded), Washington, D.C., and the Bay Area.
Unfortunately for New Yorkers, it may be some time before we can take advantage of Parking Panda. Miller says that NYC’s transportation industry is so unique that the company would have to completely revamp its operations to function in the city. For now, it’s simpler for Parking Panda to focus on more traditional transportation markets.
Parking Panda sees a future in event partnerships. It’s the official parking partner for the Baltimore Grand Prix — meaning racegoers may reserve their parking spots ahead of time — and it’s also partnered with the local ticketing company MissionTix.
Parking Panda has raised around $750,000 from angel investors, including Jose Marin from IG Expansion, newBrandAnaytics CEO Neil Kataria, David Troy from Shortmail, and Sean Lane from BTS.
VentureBeat’s VB Insight team is studying email marketing tools.
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