Big drive by Irish firm to shake up parking in Europe

Parkpnp co-founder Garret Flower using the company’s new app.

With technology and a new approach to making better use of unused spaces, Dublin start up Parkpnp is aiming to shake up the parking industry in Europe, writes Trish Dromey.

Co founder and CEO Garret Flower says the original aim was to create an Airbnb parking equivalent by devising a system which allows residential parking spaces to be rented out, “but then I discovered that that most unused and under-used spaces were in the commercial sector,” he said explaining that the company has devised a platform that can be used to maximize usage of spaces in schools, offices, hotel car parks and people’s front driveways, as well as in existing car parks.

“We have 8,000 car parking spaces in Dublin and, since launching at the end of the year, 200-plus in Cork and 100-plus in Galway. We are now launching in three cities in the Netherlands: Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Hague,” said Mr Flower.

Employing a staff of 15, the company is raising €3m in funding, with a view to moving in to Belgium and Portugal by the end of the year.

“Our unique selling point is that we have created the first market place which allows you to park in any space."

The idea for the company was sparked by Mr Flower’s frustrated search for a parking space in Dublin in 2015. He eventually solved the dilemma by knocking at a woman’s door and offering her €10 to park in her driveway. Prior to this, he co-founded Krust Bakery, the first company in Ireland to make cronuts, a mix of a doughnut and a croissant.

Later in 2015, he met entrepreneur and software developer, Daniel Paul at a Startup event in Dublin. 1Together they set up Parkpnp, using their own funding and recruiting staff who initially worked without pay, but later received shares in the company. Mr Paul, the company’s chief technical officer, developed a minimum viable product, which they were ready to demonstrate at the end of 2016. On foot of this, they raised €500,000 from Powerscourt Capital and Enterprise Ireland, which identified Parkpnp as a high-potential start-up.

Using the funding to recruit staff, they located the company in Dublin city centre and completed the development of the technology, including an app, which lists available spaces and allows users to pay by phone. The company also devised hardware for commercial customers, which controls access to parking areas. They also needed to identify unused and under-used spaces and to get people used to the idea of renting out residential spaces.

“We knocked on a lot of doors, handed out leaflets and explained to people that they could earn revenue from unused spaces. It’s common business sense to think you can make money from something not being used,” said Mr Flower.

They launched in April 2017 with 300 spaces, but have now grown this to 8,000, of which 80% are commercial. Customers include Euro carparks, the Crowne Plaza hotel and Parkrite. A Dutch company Mr Flower met at the web summit last year has now licensed the technology from Parkpnp. Working jointly with the Dutch company, Parkpnp has launched in the Netherlands.

“We expect to have 5,000 spaces there by the end of the first quarter,” said Mr Flower, explaining that Parkpnp raised €400,000 for this project in late 2017. He says that in its first year of operation, Parkpnp provided parking for 40,000 cars and earned revenue of €250,000. This year, he has set a turnover target of €2m. The €3m being raised by the company will be used to roll out the Parkpnp platform in Europe this year. It aims to be operating in six European cities by the end of the year. Mr Flower says priority will be given to expanding the team.

“We have just moved into a larger office near Pearse Street, D2, and expect to increase the total staff size to 30 by the end of the year. This will include 20 in Dublin and 10 in the Netherlands.”

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