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The easy way to park downtown

Tech startup Parkifi aims to make circling the block a thing of the past

Eric Peterson //October 22, 2015//

The easy way to park downtown

Tech startup Parkifi aims to make circling the block a thing of the past

Eric Peterson //October 22, 2015//

Parkifi

Where: Denver / Web: www.parkifi.com / founded: 2014

Initial Lightbulb:

It all began with co-founders Rishi Malik and Ryan Sullivan hunting for a place to park in downtown Denver. The task proved there’s a disconnect between omnipresent mapping technology and drivers’ needs. “When you go to a restaurant, the last place you need directions to is the front door of the restaurant,” says Sullivan, now Parkifi’s CEO.

He says that studies have shown that 30 percent of traffic in urban areas can be attributed to spot-searchers. The average time to find a parking spot in city centers is 15 minutes.

Malik and Sullivan subsequently left their jobs at Denver-based SendGrid and launched their startup to save time and thin out urban congestion.

“The initial idea was consumer-facing – then we dug deeper,” says Sullivan. “There was no one who had a foothold on the data side.”

It follows that Parkifi pivoted to become a hardware provider in July 2014, then was accepted into Boulder’s Boomtown startup accelerator for 12 weeks in late 2014.

Now with 13 employees, Parkifi is based in LoDo.

In a Nutshell:

Parkifi has deployed more than 1,500 parking sensors in Denver and Boulder to beta-test data collection, and has additional customers set to launch in California.

Made by Frederick-based Premier Manufacturing, Parkifi’s sensors cost $30 per space installed. The sensors capture data on available spaces to improve real-time decision-making for both parking operators and their customers.

For operators and municipalities, “It’s about understanding efficiencies and anticipating the need for spots,” Sullivan says.

Once Parkifi’s data is delivered to the company’s app-making partners – MobileNOW!, Passport Parking and Parknow – circling the block could be a thing of the past. The partners’ apps seamlessly alert end-users where to park and charge them for spots via their smartphones. 

The Market:

Any business or entity with lots of parking spots – municipalities, parking lots and garages, malls and sporting venues. Private customers pay for the sensors up front, but Parkifi has a different model for municipalities: no up-front fees and a revenue-sharing model. This means a lot of sensors. Denver has 6,000 parking meters, while Seattle has more than 11,000.

Financing:

After a $2 million seed round led by Galvanize Ventures in early 2015, Parkifi is in the midst of closing a Series A of another $2 million, Sullivan says. “We have some big customers that are requiring us to grow more rapidly,” he explains.