‘Airbnb of car park­ing will make our towns and cities more sus­tain­able’

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS INNOVATION - BARRY McCALL

The mar­ket for this ser­vice is mas­sive. The global car-park­ing mar­ket is worth €100 bil­lion

Gar­ret Flower, co-founder of Dublin-based Parkpnp, de­scribes its of­fer­ing as the Airbnb of car park­ing.

Parkpnp users can rent out car park­ing spa­ces by the hour, day, week or month, and cash in on hitherto un­der­utilised as­sets.

The idea came about as a re­sult of Flower’s first ex­pe­ri­ence driv­ing in Dublin. “I bought my first car 2½ years ago. On my first day out in it I found my­self driv­ing up and down Ranelagh look­ing for a park­ing space. I even­tu­ally no­ticed a space out­side a house, so I knocked on the door and asked if it was okay to park there. The women in the house said it was fine. I went back the next day with a box of choco­lates and a ten­ner in a card to thank her. She said she should do this more of­ten. That was the ah-ha mo­ment for me.”

Re­search quickly showed him the po­ten­tial of the op­por­tu­nity. “In ur­ban ar­eas across the world there are four park­ing spa­ces for ev­ery car, yet driv­ers con­stantly com­plain about a lack of park­ing. Driv­ers con­stantly pass mas­sive amounts of empty spa­ces owned by home­own­ers, busi­ness, ho­tels, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and so on. In fact, up to 30 per cent of traf­fic is caused by driv­ers look­ing for some­where to park.”

The idea be­came a re­al­ity when Flower met co-founder Daniel Paul. “He’s the tech­ni­cal ge­nius be­hind it all,” says Flower. “He has been build­ing apps since he was 16.”

Hav­ing gained back­ing from a num­ber of in­vestors in­clud­ing En­ter­prise Ire­land, the com­pany launched in 2015, and has now ex­panded into the Bel­gian and Dutch mar­kets.

Pre-book park­ing

“Park­ing-space own­ers can use the phone app or the web­site,” says Flower. “They can rent it out hourly or for months if they wish. Users can open the app and pre-book park­ing be­fore they leave home if they wish. We are talk­ing to pubs, res­tau­rants, ho­tels and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties around Ire­land at the mo­ment.

“We are also work­ing with com­mer­cial car-park op­er­a­tors like Euro Car Parks, APCOA, and ParkRite. All of th­ese park­ing op­tions will be avail­able on a sin­gle mar­ket­place. This will make our towns and cities more sus­tain­able.

“The mar­ket for this ser­vice is mas­sive,” he adds. “The global car-park­ing mar­ket is worth €100 bil­lion an­nu­ally. You can al­ready use Parkpnp in Bel­gium and the Nether­lands, and we will run our first US trial shortly.

“We also plan to de­velop new prod­ucts and ser­vices. Our next of­fer­ing is ParkOf­fice, a park­ing man­age­ment sys­tem for com­pa­nies which will al­low them to of­fer park­ing to more of their staff util­is­ing ex­ist­ing space. The sys­tem will know when staff are out sick, on hol­i­days or out of the of­fice for other rea­sons and of­fer their space to col­leagues.”

PHO­TO­GRAPH: CONOR MCCABE

■ Gar­ret Flower, co-founder of Dublin-based Parkpnp, out­side the fi­nal judg­ing round for this year’s awards at the RDS, Dublin on Tues­day.

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