Anyone who has tried to find parking in downtown SF knows what a pain it can be. Traffic in the Financial District and SOMA is enough to give even the most patient driver a headache, and since street parking is essentially nonexistent during the day, many drivers have no choice but to fight traffic until they find a commercial garage with vacant spaces. Even after they’ve found a garage, drivers spend an extra 10-15 minutes locating a space, grabbing a parking stub, and getting back to street level, knowing they’ll go through the same hassle when they return and pay up to $10/hour for the privilege. It’s a terrible experience that’s gone largely unimproved for decades.
This problem is not unique to SF. The entire parking industry is antiquated, bloated, and complacent. Most garages have transactional relationships with customers, treating them like cash machines rather than human beings. Garage owners have no interest in building relationships with their clients. Even if they did, these owners lack the tech to build an intelligent CRM system, and their attendants lack the training and motivation necessary to give customers a great experience. In fact, the commercial parking industry looks a whole lot like the taxi industry did before tech-enabled entrants like Uber forced things to change. And while other tech-enabled players like PayByPhone and Parkme have tried to improve the parking process, they’ve only added a layer of convenience on top of existing garage and street parking infrastructure, they haven’t fundamentally improved the parking experience.
That’s why today, Trinity is proud to announce our Series A investment in ZIRX, a pioneering on-demand valet parking service that aims to disrupt the $18B U.S. commercial parking industry by providing drivers with an Uber-like experience through the power of their smartphones. Several of ZIRX’s own users have already started calling it the “reverse Uber,” in that with Uber, a car picks you up and then drops you off at your desired destination, whereas with ZIRX, you drop your car off with a valet and that valet returns your car to you at your desired pick up point. For someone who drives downtown regularly for meetings, the experience feels truly magical. Suddenly, you’re no longer tethered to your car and can drop it off with one of ZIRX’s experienced parking agents right at your destination, just as you would with a hotel or restaurant valet service. When your meetings or errands are coming to a close, you can drop a pin wherever you want and a ZIRX agent will deliver it to you in minutes with a refreshing bottle of water to enjoy on the drive home.
But that’s just the beginning. Since ZIRX maintains records of parking patterns and preferred destinations, it can personalize its platform in order to provide a better experience for every customer. If you’re a regular commuter who needs to drop his car off at the office every day, simply set your work address in ZIRX like you would in Waze and you can active your valet agent with a single click while you’re en route. Or if you’re running late for a meeting and don’t have time to find parking, give ZIRX a call and tell them where you need an agent to meet you. Real-time push notifications and round-the-clock customer support make the service friendly and reliable, and the company’s flat $15/day rate makes it incredibly affordable, saving you time and money. Parking has never been so easy.
And here’s the kicker. ZIRX just began offering premium services so that customers can now request gas top-ups, car washes, and other conveniences through the company’s in-app menu, as well as a monthly parking subscription that’s up to 50% cheaper than standard monthly parking in San Francisco. With these types of add-on services, we feel confident that ZIRX can expand the market for commercial parking, making loyal customers out of people who simply refused to drive downtown in the past because of the cost and the hassle. When Trinity recently used ZIRX for parking at one of our SF events, some attendees said they weren’t planning to attend but reconsidered once they found out they wouldn’t have to deal with parking hassles. The ZIRX team, led by CEO Sean Behr who has seven years of experience as a key leader at Adap.tv, did a phenomenal job and converted many of those attendees into repeat users. Sean and his team have the attention to detail as well as the tech and operational chops needed to make a logistically-complex business run smoothly and deliver an exceptional experience to their customers.
We could not be happier to be partnering with ZIRX, along with our friends at Norwest Venture Partners, to reinvent the parking experience. To Sean Behr, Shmulik Fishman, and the entire ZIRX team: Welcome to the Trinity family!