Auto Industry Giant Backs Mobile Parking Solution QuickPay

San Francisco startup QuickPay announced today that it has raised an undisclosed amount of funding for its mobile parking solution, which debuted in October 2011. The funding comes from Fontinalis Partners, a Michigan-based investment firm focused on the transportation industry that counts Bill Ford Jr., the Chairman of Ford Motor Co., as a co-founder. QuickPay provides a mobile payment and access solution for on-street parking providers like parking meters, and off-street parking like valet parking and garages. The service integrates with parking garage infrastructures, and currently has over 80 parking lots and garages in the San Francisco Bay Area on board with plans to expand across the U.S.

“The reception has been really phenomenal,” QuickPay executive chairman Barney Pell said in an interview. “We’re in discussions with all the national parking chains, a bunch of the leading regional ones, and all kinds of other partners. Fontinalis Partners is the leading investor in this whole space, and today we’re announcing the investment with them. They’re just super excited about us.” Pell formerly worked at Powerset as well as at Bing Local and Mobile, and he is an investor in startups including car rental service GetAround.

Users can find QuickPay-enabled lots or parking spots using the mobile apps, which are available for iPhone and Android. When a user drives into a QuickPay-enabled garage they scan their smartphone on the way in, which records the time and lifts the parking gate arm. When the user leaves they’re asked to approve the cost, which is deducted from their credit card, and the gate is lifted on the way out. The service is free for garages to install, unlike the cost of implementing credit card payment systems, though companies can still offer other payment options alongside QuickPay. The company charges a percentage fee per transaction to the parking operator, and a transaction fee to the consumer. He said the exact terms can vary based on the deal with parking operator. “We want to be the one app that lets you find and pay for parking anywhere,” Pell said. “While there are some folks who handle one piece or another in various ways, no one has had the ability to offer a complete solution. We’re the first.”

Fontinalis has several other parking-focused apps in its portfolio, including Parking 360, which has aggregated the largest database of parking technology around the world. It allows developers to integrate parking into their navigation, automotive, and location-based services. It also targets municipalities and private operators, who can leverage the company’s solutions to offer real-time parking availability to consumers.

The Fontinalis portfolio also includes digital parking permit company Parkmobile. Parkmobile is like Zipcar for parking  – it allows users to pay for parking by phone or using the mobile app when parking in designated Parkmobile spots. It sends a text message 15 minutes before a user’s allotted time runs out. Pell says he doesn’t view the other portfolio companies as competition, rather QuickPay is trying to find opportunities to partner with other Fontinalis investments. “We’re talking with all the related Fontinalis portfolio companies about ways to partner. It’s such a great time for the industry right now, and we’re generally pretty complementary to these companies.”

Pell says some of the parking providers who have implemented QuickPay are already seeing additional revenue from the app. He gives the example of lots that require a monthly pass because they’re unmanned, which can now offer daily parking through the app. “They’re making thousands of dollars a month in completely found revenue.” For now QuickPay’s focus is on expanding in the U.S., but Pell doesn’t count out going international. “We’re focused on the U.S., but we’re already getting pull from international markets. There is definitely need there.” Ultimately Pell says tools like QuickPay can help parking companies form an ongoing relationship with their customers, many of whom are lost as soon as they drive away. “It’s a $26 billion a year industry and they don’t even know who their customers are.”

 

Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin has covered startups and technology for over three years in publications including Sprouter Weekly, The Globe and Mail, Business Insider, Mashable, and VentureBeat. She also writes a regular startup column for the Financial Post, and is a technology expert on CTV News Channel. Before BetaKit Erin worked as Director of Content & Communications at Sprouter from its launch in 2009 until its acquisition by Postmedia Network Inc. She was recently named one of Marketing Magazine's 30 Under 30 in 2012.