What do Angelenos hate more than driving? Parking.
So much so that three years ago a pair of fed-up twenty-somethings from Santa Monica co-founded a company to make the process as painless as possible.
ParkMe provides a free app that recommends the cheapest and closest parking, taking the stress out of the experience. The company provides static information on parking spots, rates and entry points at 26,000 locations worldwide. Real-time data – where parking spots are now open – is available in select cities including Los Angeles; San Francisco; and Austin, Texas.
“We’re trying to save the world one space at a time,” said Sam Friedman, the company’s chief executive and co-founder.
This month, ParkMe announced two partnerships that may bring it more attention.
The company has teamed up with Magnifis Inc., a Palo Alto voice software company, to unveil “Robin,” a personal voice assistant that helps drivers navigate: think KITT from “Knight Rider” helping you park.
ParkMe was also named one of 11 subcontractors working for Xerox Corp. as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s $15 million LA ExpressPark program with the city of Los Angeles. The just-launched project is a one-year program to alleviate traffic in downtown Los Angeles by providing real-time parking data, guidance, and new metering technology. ParkMe supplies the program’s static information – how many total spaces are in each garage, prices and where to enter.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa welcomed the program because it will make downtown parking “easier, faster, and smarter for all Angelenos.”
Friedman, whose company has expanded to include real-time information on street parking in Austin, thinks ParkMe’s involvement in LA ExpressPark will help raise his company’s profile and make other states and municipalities take notice.
“We’re very excited to be working with the city of L.A.,” said Friedman. “It’s a step in the right direction for parking; it sets an example for parking throughout the country.”
The company has 14 full-time employees. ParkMe wouldn’t reveal download numbers, but executives said they have consistently grown every month since launch. The company is not yet profitable, but has raised more than $1 million in venture capital.
Friedman and Alex Israel, both 28, co-founded the company in 2009. Israel is the company’s chief operating officer and handles parking data aggregation. Friedman’s duties include sales, marketing and business development.
The company makes money by licensing parking data to companies such as TomTom International BV, a provider of GPS navigation based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. By the end of next year, Friedman and Israel expect the company will be working with auto manufacturers, similar to the OnStar service.