Over 80 percent of the Australian population drive to their place of work or study on any given day. Ideally, all these cars hitting the road would be matched with a carpark space that awaits them near their desired destination. However this is just not the case. Most Australian cities have less than 20 car parking spaces per 100 CBD workers, while all day car parking can cost an average of $50 per day. Something has to give and this is where the inspiration for startup Parkhound came from.
Parkhound is a site and mobile app that connects drivers looking for parking with local property owners who have available parking spaces on offer. The startup’s lightbulb moment came from an unlikely source… Aussie rules football.
“It just hit us; wouldn’t it be great if we could just knock on someone’s door and ask to park at their place for a small fee?”
Co-founders Michael Nuciforo and Robert Crocitti were driving to a football game with a group of friends when inspiration struck.
“After circling around the ground for 15 minutes on the hunt for parking, we noticed that there was dozens of empty garages and driveways right near the football ground,” says Nuciforo. “It just hit us; wouldn’t it be great if we could just knock on someone’s door and ask to park at their place for a small fee?”
By identifying that there are many unused parking spaces all around us, Nuciforo and Crocitti figured that we don’t need more parking spaces, we just need to utilise the parking spaces we already have. And so the research phase began.
“We found that drivers really struggled to find parking and found it expensive, creating anxiety, frustration and ultimately issues that resulted in parking fines,” says Nuciforo. “Likewise with owners, our research identified a desire and more importantly a comfort with leasing out empty spaces for income. This was in no doubt also due to the breakout success of companies such as Uber and Airbnb, which gave credibility to the whole peer-to-peer business model.”
It has over ten thousand parking spaces located all around Australia and has processed over $5 million in bookings.
It was through this initial research that the basis of the business was formed and was also used to come up with the name, brand, tone of voice and also marketing materials.
“For example, our language is quite playful as people don't take parking too seriously. Our brand is clean and strong. We loved the name Parkhound because it's clear what the business does; it helps you find parking.”
Parkhound officially launched in September 2013. Currently, it has over ten thousand parking spaces located all around Australia and has processed over $5 million in bookings. The company has in turn leased out over 4,000 parking spaces through a wide variety of deals, ranging from a few hours, to a few months. The company is growing at about 150 new parking spaces a week and continues to get a strong response from satisfied customers.
“Most of our new customers come via word of mouth from water cooler conversations in the office,” Nuciforo says. “It took us two years to get to 20,000 members, and this year we have doubled that in 12 months. Likewise with spaces, it took us one year to get to 1,000 spaces, then last year we added another 3,000 spaces and this year we doubled it to 6,000 and over 10,000 in total.”
Our goal for the future is to provide you with a parking space recommendation once you get there.
Moving forward, Parkhound’s focus for 2017 is to continue to grow its volume of listings and members. The business is also currently developing a new feature that will allow parking spaces to be accessed directly from third-party mapping and GPS providers.
“Mapping services only solve half the problem, but we want to solve the other half,” says Nuciforo. “You may get directions on how to get to a place from Google now, but our goal for the future is to provide you with a parking space recommendation once you get there.”
Australian cities consistently rank in the top 20 most expensive parking cities in the world. With the population of these cities growing dramatically, the problem is only going to get worse.
“Councils, major car parking firms and airports have been operating in a parking oligopoly for years. We know consumers have had enough of the lofty prices and luck of the draw with the parking services on offer today,” says Nuciforo. “For now, Parkhound is content with disrupting this $1 billion Australian parking industry with a bit of good old fashioned Aussie hard work.”
Pauline is a Sydney-based journalist for Domain and is frequently featured amongst various Fairfax Media mastheads including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Image: Parkhound Facebook page