ParqEx Raises $1.2M to Connect Private Parking Owners, Seekers

[Updated 1/4/17, 10:42 am. See below.ParqEx, a Chicago-based company with several Wisconsin ties whose technology allows users to find or rent out private parking spots, has raised $1.2 million from investors, according to multiple media reports.

Two Madison, WI-based venture capital groups, Venture Management and Wisconsin Investment Partners, were among the participants in the seed financing round, according to an e-mail from ParqEx spokeswoman Susan Peters. She declined to say whether any other funds or individual investors participated. [This paragraph has been updated with information from ParqEx.]

ParqEx’s software lets people charge others to park in spots they own while they’re away—think Airbnb for parking. Users in need of parking can rent spots for hours, days, or months at a time, the startup says.

Some of the proceeds from the latest funding round will go toward “user acquisition via sales and marketing efforts, hiring, and expanding to new markets,” Peters says. [This paragraph has been updated with information from ParqEx.]

ParqEx, which launched in 2014, developed digital tools allowing owners of spots to grant renters temporary access to garages and gated lots, and to enter these areas via smartphone. (The company has built apps for both iOS and Android mobile devices.)

In November, ParqEx graduated from Gener8tor, a Wisconsin-based accelerator for early-stage companies. Another Badger State connection: the startup has opened a satellite office in Milwaukee at Ward 4, an emerging entrepreneurship hub near the city’s downtown.

In an e-mail to Xconomy, Matt Kelly, a vice president at Venture Management, says his group is glad that ParqEx’s leadership team elected to come to Wisconsin last year to participate in Gener8tor.

“Venture Management invested in ParqEx because of the vast untapped asset—underutilized private parking spots,” Kelly wrote, adding that the fund “would not have found ParqEx to invest in if the company hadn’t gone through the Gener8tor process.” [This paragraph has been updated with information from Matt Kelly of Venture Management.]

ParqEx also went through Elmspring, an accelerator in Chicago focused on real estate and housing-related technology, according to the organization’s website.

There are currently nine U.S.cities listed as “locations” on ParqEx’s website. However, all of the links except Chicago and Milwaukee point to pages with text saying that the service is coming soon, but not yet available.

ParqEx plans to eventually open offices in each of the “major cities” it serves, Peters says. The startup is also exploring partnerships with brands such as Luxe, New Era, and Zipcar. [This paragraph has been updated with information from ParqEx.]

In November, ParqEx founder and CEO Vivek Mehra said that his company had nine full-time team members, and more than 6,000 active users.

According to a Chicago Tribune report, renters must pay owners the listed price for a spot, plus an extra $1 to ParqEx. Listing a spot is reportedly free, with ParqEx receiving 20 percent of the total amount paid.

Chicago is a crowded market for technology startups focused on improving parking there and in other cities. SpotHero, which initially concentrated on helping users find places to park in public lots, bought San Francisco-based ParkPlease in 2015. ParkPlease’s model is similar to ParqEx’s, which could put the two parking apps in direct competition.

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