Thursday Jun 26, 2014 by Josh Boyle - Director of Community & Marketing, VentureFizz
The easiest way to find the cheapest and closest off-street parking spot is about to make its way to your phone. Thanks to two men who lef ttheir jobs to "make a difference," parking is finally entering the modern age.
Jonathan Corbin and Aaron Kolenda are the co-founders of VEER, the parking app that will save you from driving around block-by-block looking for a decent parking spot.
Corbin, who received his MBA from Babson, worked at a series of tech companies including Sybase (a SAP Company), Unica (an IBM Company) and Adobe, in project management and consulting roles. Corbin had friends in the startup world, some who made their way through Y Combinator. Over time, attending various events with these friends, Corbin’s interest for the startup world grew.
Kolenda, on the other hand, was more actively involved in the startup space throughout his career having come from the Venture Capital world. Starting at Insight Venture Partners in NYC he would come to Boston for a position at Battery Ventures in 2010.
Like Corbin, Kolenda had a growing interest in being more directly involved with a startup. In his venture roles Kolenda would constantly get close to founders and teams only to move on to the next deal. The desire to become more involved, eventually led him to Redstar, a “company that creates companies” with aspirations of conceiving innovative ideas and seeing them come to life. However, Kolenda was still left wanting more of an active role.
Corbin and Kolenda met at a startup event back in 2010 and remained friends. Having similar desires to build a company they often discussed opportunities and markets for which to break into. As drivers, they soon realized they both faced the same problem - parking in the City. Constantly late for meetings due to parking issues they realized the space they needed to be in and decided to attack this problem head on.
This past February they began building. At first they were thinking hardware (think EZ-Pass), but ultimately decided on a platform that would provide drivers with the cheapest and closest parking garage or lot. Many drivers are unaware of the garages that are available as many are out of sight. Other drivers just assume every garage is wildly expensive, even for a short stay. VEER aims to inform drivers of what’s out there.
We’ve all been there. Doing the loop around Boylston and Newbury hoping to grab that street spot for your one-hour stay. If you pull into a garage to see the cost for one hour, it’s too late to back out once you realize it’ll run you $25. What you might not realize is the garage around the corner offers spots for $12 under 90-minutes. Or, if you are aware of those rates, you don’t know if the garage is full until you drive to that lot.
Essentially, there’s just too many moving parts, multiple issues and zero communication between garages and drivers.
With VEER you’ll simply click on the app and it will lead you, turn-by-turn, to the cheapest and closest off-street parking spot. The app integrates with standard garage software programs allowing it to stay on top of current rates and availability at each garage. What’s better, unlike online maps whose directions take you to the garage office, VEER guides you directly to the entrance. It also allows you to save your parking spot location; so no more texting yourself “P3 Green” or worse, walking floor-to-floor wondering where your car is.
I asked about using the same concept for on-street parking, as many would still prefer to spend the $2.50 for two hours than a garage price. The infrastructure for that type of undertaking far exceeds their current approach and has actually been pursued in both San Francisco and Boston. Both pilot programs underperformed and were cut short.
The team, which is seven people strong now, is focused on user experience, making sure users are excited about the product and are informing them of improvements and additional features. They are capturing data which they'll be able to share with garages and analyze internally in order to explore what monetization strategies they want to attack.
I asked about revenue sharing with garages, but both Corbin and Kolenda stressed that isn’t an option as users would lose trust in the app if VEER was percieved as favoring one garage over another strictly to generate revenue. So rest assured, you won’t been guided to a lesser option in order for them to fill the bank account.
VEER has been self-funded to this point, but Corbin and Kolenda tell me they are currently looking to raise a $250,000 Seed Round, which would be used for marketing purposes as well as hiring marketing personnel and more talent on the mobile side.
The app will be publically available in the coming weeks. So if you’re a driver constantly in and out of the city keep your eye out or sign up for updates from the VEER team. Hopefully all your parking woes will be driven away.
Josh Boyle is Director of Community & Marketing, VentureFizz. You can follow him on Twitter: @jb_sid