The next big vertical is … parking? Parking Data Ventures has been created to tackle all things parking. The five-person, Baltimore-based service has created a database of 10,000 parking locations. It has partnered with six of the largest parking lot companies in the U.S. and Canada, and has info for 15+ other leading parking companies. It competes with Urban Mapping Inc., which has created its own parking garage network.
Parking Data Ventures’ database is broken down into numerous useful categories, including address, entry points, hours of operation, accepted forms of payment, height restrictions, pricing schedules and amenities provided (i.e., my airport garage offers a car wash, coffee and free copies of USA Today).
Formerly known as Mobile Parking, the service is available on the Web and is also enabled for location-based services such as mobile and GPS apps. It is also looking to expand with promotional services, including coupons and loyalty programs, reservations and even real-time payment.
One kind of transactional service it performs today is prepaid event parking. For instance, it has handled prepaid parking for the Baltimore Ravens for the past three seasons. Consumers order online, prepay and print their parking passes at home. The company has also been working with regional transit authorities, search engines and others.
Founder Jason Boseck, a former finance trader, tells us the parking business is basically divided into “event,” “airport” and “transient/city” parking. The potential of the business “goes beyond location,” he says. “Utilitarian content is increasingly worth more than distribution.” Indeed, in a way, parking might be seen as a vertical that ties in with other verticals, such as transit, traffic and events.
One fundamental key to online parking success is to source the content correctly. Many existing data providers don’t think about it and will list a parking garage’s leasing office as the address and entry point, says Boseck.
Boseck launched the company in 2002, but ultimately decided he was too much on the bleeding edge. The assumption was that onboard navigation was going to be hot four years ago, he says. “But it is just now coming online.”
The parking lot owners are also just getting interested in online as well. “They are [generally] real estate owners and operators,” he says. “They are now realizing the opportunity that exists via local mobile search.”