Hate wasting time circling block after block trying to find a free space? The new Denver startup ParkiFi, founded in 2014, wants to change the way you park. Ryan Sullivan, the company’s CEO and founder, envisions a world in which finding a parking spot is as easy as pushing a button and following turn-by-turn directions. We asked him a few questions about his company, his plans for the future and the contest ParkiFi is running this spring, which offers a year of free parking to one lucky app user.
What is ParkiFi, and why does Denver (and the rest of the world) need it?
At any time, approximately one out of three cars on the road in downtown Denver is actively looking for a parking spot. Finding that spot takes an average of 15 minutes of avoidable driving. ParkiFi was created to take this stress out of people’s lives and to reduce the environmental impact of driving while providing them with more data to enable smarter transportation decisions.
ParkiFi’s mobile app shows real-time parking availability in order to direct drivers to open parking spaces in garages and lots downtown (from Union Station to Broadway, 14th Street to 20th Street), making Denver roads less congested, and commuters’ transportation decisions more informed. This solution improves upon existing parking app approaches, which sublet pre-reserved parking inventory through reservations, or merely show pricing or locations of static lot inventory.
How did you come up with the idea for ParkiFi? Was there an “a-ha” moment, or did the idea generate slowly?
While I was running late to a meeting and frustrated searching for a parking spot with no luck, I asked myself, “Why isn’t there an easier way to find parking?” After looking into why this wasn’t already solved, I talked with my friend Rishi Malik and we decided that we would be the ones to remove this hassle from city life, so we founded ParkiFi. I’d say it was more of an “a-ha” moment.
Tell us about the contest ParkiFi is currently running that offers a year of free parking to the winner.
We’ve recently launched our new payment feature and wanted to do something big to celebrate. I think we can all relate to the headache of parking, and our app works to solve that, but we wanted to take it a step further for one of our users. Starting on May 1, every time a user parks and pays using ParkiFi’s mobile payment feature, they are automatically entered to win a full year of free parking. The more you park, the better your chances. The winner will be revealed July 31.
Have you run into any problem concerning safety with ParkiFi? It seems like the app might encourage people to use their phones while driving.
My whole team is very conscious of the issues surrounding using a smartphone while driving and we make sure to go above and beyond to discourage that behavior. ParkiFi is most valuable when a user has the app installed before they start their journey and that’s why we’ve implemented our Just Park button within the app. Just Park allows users to push one button and be automatically directed to the closest available spot relative to their current location.
In addition, ParkiFi recently launched an experiential marketing campaign in which we focus on connecting with audiences at some of the area’s most popular events, such as the People’s Fair, Rockies games, the Denver Arts Festival, the BolderBoulder and more. During these events, we have the opportunity to chat one-on-one with our community, explain the value and best usage of ParkiFi, and use fun games and giveaways to encourage on-the-spot downloads to avoid downloading the app while driving. The safety of our users always comes first.
What’s your vision for the future of the company?
ParkiFi will continue to add parking inventory in downtown Denver throughout 2017, including metered spaces, enabling even more convenient parking solutions at all price points. Meanwhile, we will be rolling out in additional Denver neighborhoods and new cities later this summer. My long-term vision for the company is to completely transform the industry nationwide, by providing seamless solutions for cities and individuals alike that solve the universal parking problem.