Parko, an Israeli startup who’s app helps users find parking, announced the closing of its first funding round for $.05M
Israeli startup Parko, developer of the popular app designed to help users find parking at their desired destinations, announced the completion of a seed round of funding valued at half a million dollars. The current funding round was led by Our Crowd – a new Crowd Funding VC firm founded by John Medved, known for mobilizing investments to promising Israeli ventures – as well as entrepreneur, turned investor, Gigi Levy, former CEO of 888.
Parko, available on both iPhone and Android devices, is designed to help drivers in the, sometimes impossible, task of finding parking. The app, currently designed for Israel, is seen not only as a solution for the Tel Aviv metropolis, but for all major cities throughout the country including Jerusalem, Haifa, the Gush Dan region, and really anywhere where there’s a high percentage of drivers to inner city parking.
Not surprisingly these days, the application is socially driven (pardon the pun), and uses social networking to connect users who are looking for parking, with those triumphant drivers who have already parked, and will soon be on their way out. It’s basically the digital equivalent of getting your buddy to stand in a parking spot and save it for you, while you make your way over there. Only now you have thousands of buddies standing in thousands of spots for you (theoretically).
In practice, after starting the app you can select one of two modes – Search or Vacate. If you choose Vacate, you will be asked to mark where your car is now, and how much longer you expect to be there. Meanwhile, users in the same area will receive a notification that you’re putting your spot up on the market and they can choose whether they want to grab it from you. If a user chooses your spot, you receive a detailed message that includes a description of the vehicle scheduled to replace you. In exchange for your trouble, you’re rewarded with virtual currency you can redeem later. At this stage, the virtual currency is mostly a marginal element in the application, but the plan is to eventually attach it to coupons and other redeemable benefits.
The app also has another very cool feature, where if you forgot to update your status when you’ve reached your car, and you leave your spot without a direct handoff to the user replacing you, the app will automatically detect that your parking space is available through the use of 9 separate sensors inside your smartphone, including your GPS – so you don’t have to bother with manually reporting your departure on your phone. You simply leave at your leisure and Parko will handle all the digital paperwork for you, awarding you your credit, if and when the selected user takes your spot.
If you’re wondering whether someone would actually use an app like this; to date, the application has over 50K users benefitting from its promise of hassle-free (or at least, hassle-light) parking every day, mostly in Tel Aviv, and it’s only growing. Given its social framework, as the user base grows, the practicality of the app grows in tandem.
A stressed out idea
Behind the Parko app are CEO Tomer NeuNer, CTO Itai David, and COO Moran Barda. After years of battling the parking jungles of Tel Aviv every day, Tomer and Itai had enough. Not looking to reinvent the wheel, they figured there must be something in the technology out there right now that can help make their lives easier. Meanwhile, Moran had been working separately on a similar idea of his own. The three amigos met at various conferences and forums for entrepreneurs and decided to join forces in their quest for a simpler parking experience.
They first set out to conquer their arch nemesis, Tel Aviv, and slowly branched out to the rest of the country. With the experience garnered in the Tel Aviv pilot, they have now set their sights on the global market, preparing to launch Parko in three other cities around the world, and are already in contact with a number of entrepreneurs to translate the app for the global village.
Despite their global aspirations, the current round of investment will be used for further development of Israel’s local audience, increasing their user base to increase the parking space. Only a native city slicker can understand why global domination of a product would be a secondary priority to finding a great local parking spot.