Finding a parking spot is a challenge in urban locations. I have opted to trek across town in the dead of night, shell out for a cab, or brave public transportation to avoid the frustration that is searching for a place to park.
ParkWhiz tackles this problem by allowing drivers to find and reserve parking spots in advance. This Chicago-based startup has raised $2 million in its first round of institutional funding from Hyde Park Venture Partners, Hyde Park Angels, Amicus Capital and big name angel investors Alexis Ohanian and Garry Tan. This investment will be used to expand its presence into more locations across the nation.
ParkWhiz was founded in 2006 and there are over 3 million parking spaces in its database. It is active in Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Baltimore, and New Orleans, as well as over 100 airports and popular sporting destinations such Boston’s Fenway Park and the Dallas Cowboys Stadium. The company has intelligently struck strategic partnerships with sports teams and venues, as well as ticket providers like StubHub, to offer parking inventory.
“Transportation disruption is a huge trend right now,” said cofoudner and CEO Aashish Dalal in an interview with VentureBeat. “There are a variety of companies shaking up hailing taxis, finding overnight accommodations, sharing cars, booking private jets, and even bicycle ownership. ParkWhiz enables an existing consumer behavior within what is traditionally a very offline consumer experience. By aggregating real-time data about parking availability and pricing, we have pioneered a new way for parking owners and consumers to find each other.”
Not only can users see what spots are available and claim them in advance, but they can also compare price, location, and amenities. Once the transaction is complete, drivers receive a ParkWhiz digital parking pass and directions to their spot. It is prepaid, which eliminates concerns about losing pay stubs or not having the right amount of cash.
Last week, another Chicago-based startup SpotHero announced a $2.5 million round led by Battery Ventures. SpotHero was accelerated in Excelerate Labs and focuses on the pain point of finding parking on the go. Its mobile app shows available spaces in parking garages nearby and is mainly active in Chicago. Other competitors include KurbKarma, which adds a social network layer atop the parking search capability, and ParqPlace, a startup incubated by Lemons Labs that takes more of a shared economy approach by combining mobile technology and hardware to capitalize on spaces owned by schools, churches, businesses, and residents.
At one time or another, these startups have been referred to as the “OpenTable” “Uber” or “AirBnB” of parking. Rather than drawing comparisons, lets revert to the simple fact that parking can be stressful and most people welcome technology that eliminates unnecessary stress from their lives, particularly when it means the fun can start sooner.