Boston startup and parking app SPOT launched Thursday after securing almost $1 million in seed funding. The app, which bills itself as the Airbnb of parking spaces, was the first parking app to emerge from the fray after ill-fated Haystack was banned from operating in the city, and the second – after Veer – to launch since.
The way Haystack worked didn’t sit well with the city. In essence it allowed one person, parked snugly in an on-street spot, to sell that space to another person searching for parking, profiting off the sale of public property. (Though they contended they were selling the information, not the physical space.) SPOT takes that same concept, but flips the script by facilitating a rental agreement using privately owned parking spaces.
People can rent spaces for hours at a time, days, or even weeks depending on the agreement reached between the two parties. The transaction is entirely done through mobile devices.
Even better is that SPOT founder and CEO Braden Golub has done his homework and compiled the necessary data to prove his app works effectively. SPOT alleviates the frustration that’s often attached to scouring for a street spot, and its platform allows for cheaper prices than local parking garages.
“We could not be more excited to use Boston as our launch city,” Golub told me. “Helping to make this city, and many more in the near future, a more efficient and technologically friendly environment is SPOT’s main mission.”
Golub is setting major urban centers like Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco in his sights as future markets.
In Boston, though, some 190,000 cars commute into the city per day and another 30,000 parking spots are privately owned. Sure this bodes well for commuters, but think of the benefits it affords people coming into the city to shop, or to spend time with friends, or to enjoy a weekend here without worrying about getting towed.
“In today’s exploding sharing-based economy, companies like Uber and Airbnb are proving that there is a tremendous market in peer-to-peer transactions,” added Golub, “we’re just aggregating a city’s private parking spot inventory and making it readily accessible.”
Prior to launching, Golub was able to secure two successful local advisors to come aboard as advisors: Jeffrey Beir of seed2A and Woody Benson of Prism Ventureworks, as well as a seed funding round of just shy of $1 million. Golub was unable to disclose the exact amount.
To avoid the same pitfalls as Haystack, Golub made sure to land meetings with the City of Boston – specifically the Boston Transportation Department and Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. Though a deal or endorsement wasn’t reached between SPOT and the City of Boston the way it was with TicketZen, a parking ticket payment solution, Golub told me his willingness to engage City Hall went a long way with officials.
City Councilor Frank Baker, who spearheaded the order to shutdown Haystack, was tremendously encouraging of SPOT.
The New Urban Mechanics told me prior that parking is a major pain point for residents and visitors and is something they’re working tirelessly to overhaul. One such initiative was altering maximum metered parking hours in the Innovation District.
“We have worked hard to create better parking options for every neighborhood in the city,” said Golub. “In Boston, there are currently dozens of transactions happening every hour so as we grow the demand, we’re hoping more owners will see the tremendous opportunity for incremental revenue from their empty parking spot.”
SPOT is available to download on iOS and Android devices today. Feel free to share your SPOT parking experience with us in the comment section below.