Austin startup wants to take the hassle out of finding downtown parking spots for tech workers

Park Evergreen’s on-demand parking idea landed it a spot in Silicon Valley accelerator 500 Startups.

Posted December 21st, 2016

One of the biggest hassles for office managers is finding downtown parking spaces for employees. Now an Austin startup, Park Evergreen, wants to change that by matching tech companies with available parking spaces. 

Founded a year ago, the company has developed a platform that lets office managers log in and lease a spot from its parking inventory. That means companies no longer have to call around to various lot owners trying to find space every time they add an employee.

“It’s really a pain, and a big time suck for them,” said Park Evergreen co-founder Jenn Starr. “If they have 50, 100 or 200 employees, they have to call multiple lots to figure out if there’s space available. And then they have to deal with key cards. If this is one way we can make their life easier, it’s a win.”

The idea helped Park Evergreen beat out more than 2,000 applicants for a spot in the elite Silicon Valley accelerator 500 Startups. The company’s five-person team is currently participating in 500 Startups’ 12-week mentoring program. 

What they do: Park Evergreen works with downtown Austin parking lot owners to secure spaces. Office managers can log into Park Evergreen’s web dashboard to see what’s available.

“If they have a new employee, they can add their name and email address, and in under 10 seconds find a parking place in our system,” Starr said. “The employee gets an email saying ‘Here’s the address and assigned space is X.”

In addition to saving companies time, Starr said lot owners also benefit from being in their system.

“They don’t have to do any of the sales and marketing of their spaces, because we are actively going out and selling,” she said. “And we can pretty much guarantee that the lot is going to be full.”

Tech companies pay Park Evergreen a flat fee per space. Park Evergreen takes a cut and then pays the parking lot owners.

Park Evergreen is currently working with several tech companies in need of more than 200 spaces.

The goal is to fully launch the service in Austin next month, and then expand in Nashville.

Future plans include an app for employees that would let them book downtown space in vacant lots for personal use on evenings and weekends. 

Who they are: Starr is a 10-year branding and design professional who previously launched her own branding agency. Co-founder Ben Cantey is a serial entrepreneur whose previous roles included enterprise project manager at Austin tech accelerator 3 Day Startup.

Rounding out the founding team are project manager Jason Cass, database engineer Ben Smith and programming veteran Chris Addington.

The team started the company as a side project, but after being accepted into 500 Startups, they are pursuing Park Evergreen full time.

Investment: Park Evergreen was initially self-funded by its founders. Acceptance into 500 Startups included a $150,000 investment from the incubator for 6 percent ownership in the company.

The founders are actively fundraising, and say they hope to meet new investors when they pitch their company at the 500 Startups Demo Day on Feb. 15.

Biggest challenge: 

“For us, it is acquiring as much inventory as possible,” Starr said. “We’re definitely not having issues selling it. We’re trying to get as much as we can as quickly as possible.”

Starr said Park Evergreen is close to closing a deal with a major parking management company, which would significantly expand its Austin offerings.

Jenn Starr is a co-founder of Austin startup Park Evergreen.