Squeeze on in internet parking start-upsSave
By Matt Nippert
Auckland's parking space has become even more crowded with at least three internet start-ups competing to become the "Uber for parking" in New Zealand's most congested city.
The ventures offer services designed to link drivers wanting to book and pay for parking spots with property owners who have spaces available kerbside or in driveways.
The three companies - Parkable, ParkBubble and ParkSmartly - all claim to have independently come to the idea and expect to grow the number of parking spaces available in central Auckland by letting businesses and homeowners list unused spaces.
A 2012 Auckland Council report calculated the city had 50,231 parking spaces. The new companies put their market at 10,000 spaces.
The most advanced of the trio, Parkable, listed 170 driveway and off-street parking spaces near Eden Park for the All Blacks test two weeks ago.
More than 100 vehicles took advantage of the service, netting renters between $1 and $10 an hour. "Those that listed for $1 will probably be kicking themselves, to be honest," said company co-founder Toby Littin.
ParkSmartly, founded by Philippines-born Mark Guadalupe and Francis Yanga, operates with custom-printed QR codes that connect parker with park-owner. An app is in the works, expected to hit the market within a month.
Guadalupe said he and his family had always run into problems finding parks in Auckland. "We want to help Aucklanders," he said, adding the possibility of expanding to the rest of New Zealand was also an attraction.
Torben Landl, founder of ParkBubble, said he was taking a slow-but-steady approach to development and was unwilling to give an indication when his business would be live.
"I guess seeing multiple parties jump in is more validation that there's a need for it," he said.
Broadly the ventures all allow parking space landlords to set prices and collect a percentage of transactions as a service fee.
Parkable said they would collect 20 per cent of funds raised, ParkSmartly 8 per cent to 10 per cent, while ParkBubble said they had yet to set a price and it would likely vary between 5 per cent and 50 per cent.
Technology commentator Peter Griffin said while there was probably space for a successful business in selling parking spaces online, there would almost certainly be blood on the floor as internet services tended towards natural monopolies with only be one dominant player.
"It makes sense, from a network point of view, to have all the content in one place.
"With these parking apps, it'll likely come down to exclusivity and who can sign up the most parking spaces first," he said.
Established market heavyweight Wilsons Parking, which operates 74 parking lots in central Auckland, was cautious when approached about the possibility of nimble online rivals nibbling at their territory.
In a statement the company said: "Our national stable of car parks are regulated, properly maintained, security patrolled, and offer 24/7 parker assistance ...
"We find customers to be very discerning about where they leave their vehicles."
The three new ventures battling for spaces
• Parkable www.parkable.co.nz App now live, company claims to already have 100 CBD spots registered as available.
• ParkBubble www.parkbubble.com Accepting registrations of interest, hopes to launch app in near future.
• ParkSmartly www.parksmartly.com Accepting registrations of spaces to rent via post, claims hundreds available, app launching within four weeks.