‘Airbnb for parking’ opens to city users

Parking owners can used Prked app to earn extra income by renting out space.
Parking, especially in the downtown area, often is at a premium. A new app is designed to connect parking owners not using their space with those in need. Courtesy Prked

A Miami-based startup is helping Grand Rapids residents and businesses pocket extra cash by renting out their parking spaces.

Dubbed the “Airbnb of parking,” Prked is an online marketplace that allows individuals, businesses, homeowners associations and other establishments to rent out their unused, privately owned parking spaces. This allows hosts to earn extra income/revenue and contributes to convenient, cheaper and eco-friendly parking.

Founders Dylan Fay and Zack Saadioui conceived the idea of an online marketplace for parking while attending the University of Florida. During football games, parking was in such high demand, it led to an underground market of students attempting to rent off their own parking spaces to visitors.

“If you’re at work during the day, you can list your space for when you’re not at work,” Fay said. “When someone in the area is looking for a parking space, it’ll pop up on the app and they can use it whenever you want.”

Fay said Prked officially launched in late February, but the COVID-19 pandemic hurt its plans for growth. Regardless, the Miami tech startup reported good consumer feedback as it marketed itself to major metropolitan areas in Michigan.

“We’re putting our marketing efforts in Grand Rapids, but it’s available to everyone,” Fay said. “We’ve had some good PR in Detroit, Southfield and Ann Arbor.”

The parking space-sharing app is expanding its service and marketing to the Grand Rapids area, which has long suffered traffic congestion due to its high population density and universities in surrounding areas.

Prked currently is focusing its marketing efforts to parking space owners and plans to market it to parkers when COVID-19 dies down.

By allowing host users to open their parking spaces to the public, Prked hopes to increase the availability and decrease the cost of parking, reduce the time drivers spend looking for parking, reduce car emissions, and reduce the need to build more parking structures, resulting in more green space.

Fay said Prked currently has more than 3,000 users on the platform.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a decrease in public transportation usage, which means more vehicles on the road as people try to stay socially distanced. In Grand Rapids, the Interurban Transit Partnership (The Rapid) implemented several rider restrictions over the summer to reduce the spread of the virus, according to a previous Business Journal report.

Prked’s contactless booking and payment system brings peace of mind to drivers by allowing them to bypass parking meters, ticketing machines, and parking attendants so they don’t have to break social distance or make contact with any heavily touched surfaces.

Prked also works with businesses to list their company parking spaces outside of office hours. This technology helps business owners manage and monetize their underutilized resources.

The app also has built-in protections for hosts and users. Users have a 15-minute window to vacate the parking space once their allotted time is up; otherwise, the vehicle can be towed at the owner’s expense.

“If the driver starts impeding on other users, then the host has the right to tow them,” Fay said.

Additionally, users will be refunded in the event a listed parking space is not available. If a listed parking space is in a lot or ramp that requires key code access, the user is given the code once the spot is purchased. Prked currently is exploring Bluetooth technology for users to access parking structures that require a key card to enter.

The demand for parking in the city often surges with events such as sports, concerts and conventions, creating opportunities for residents and businesses alike to cash in on Prked and earn passive income from property they already own.

Learn more and download the app at prked.com.

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