On-demand valet parking service ZIRX is teaming up with the BMW Group, via its i Ventures arm, thanks to a strategic investment by the automotive manufacturer. This will allow ZIRX to expand its offering into new markets and evolve its service offerings.
In conjunction with this news, ZIRX has introduced a new offering for companies, helping employees become more productive by eliminating time lost searching for parking spots.
Estimated as being in the “multiple millions of dollars,” the BMW investment is one ZIRX hopes will open up new opportunities. “BMW is a great partner and investor,” said ZIRX cofounder and chief executive Sean Behr. “They are really concerned about the future of cars and mobility. BMW has a lot of ventures in its ecosystem. If you think about the sort of things that they do, BMW has a network of dealerships across the country, and in every major city, there’s at least one. They have dealerships that have to move cars to and from customers, make repairs, etc.”
While Behr spoke with us about his vision for the partnership, there haven’t been any new developments between ZIRX and BMW. However, one scenario could see ZIRX becoming a “white glove service” for BMW owners, meaning that they could receive notifications about servicing and immediately book an appointment right from their vehicle. Or, perhaps after their vehicle has been parked, one of ZIRX’s parking attendants could be notified if it needs an oil change or other light maintenance and take it to the nearest dealership while they’re away.
ZIRX already provides many such conveniences through its ZIRX Care service, which lets drivers opt-in for car washes, gas fill ups, electric vehicle charging, oil changes, tire rotation, and factory maintenance. But if there was a specific tie-in with a particular car manufacturer, that could be pretty interesting.
Behr said that he’d spoken with other car companies about this possibility before forming today’s strategic investment. He declined to provide any specifics about who ZIRX has been speaking with.
A major tenet of ZIRX’s mission is to help make car owners’ lives easier. And while the company initially focused on individuals, it has realized that it has a lot to offer to those inside the enterprise.
This is where ZIRX Enterprise comes into play. Behr said that human resource and facility managers are still trying to solve the problem of helping employees find parking. This can be an issue for recruiting purposes as well — why would you drive to an office if there wasn’t a place to easily park your car?
ZIRX Enterprise provides a portal through which HR managers can control who in the company will have a corporate account. It’ll allow companies to manage their employees’ accounts and billings. Right now it’s not integrated with any third-party services such as Google Accounts or an LDAP system, but Behr said the company might be open to those possibilities in the future.
Prices are based on a monthly subscription fee starting at $299 per person for up to 10 employees. The cost goes down depending on the number of people taking advantage of this service.
Companies can configure their drop-off points to span the entire city or limit them to the block around the building. The latter could help ensure that ZIRX Enterprise is used specifically for work purposes. This service works just like traditional ZIRX, in that users can just drop off their cars and have them returned whenever they want.
Just because a company is a ZIRX Enterprise customer does not mean its employees will receive preferential treatment over individual users. “There’s no preferential treatment built into the system,” said Behr.
Dozens of companies have signed up, including Automatic Labs, Insomniac, Juno Therapeutics, and Live Nation. The service is available in all of ZIRX’s markets.
Throughout our conversation with Behr, one thing was constantly reinforced: ZIRX isn’t a service that facilitates parking your car, it’s the cog in the machine that’ll helps things move smoothly. It’s about logistical planning for what happens to your car when you reach your destination and everything that goes on between drop-off and return.
From converting its workforce to employees, to striking a partnership with BMW, to the launch of its enterprise offering, ZIRX seems to be setting in motion an evolution that will enable it to outsource its logistical engine to other companies and products in the future.