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1/2/2007
04:15 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
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ParkWhiz Helps Find Parking

The phosphors were barely dry on my earlier post about local Internet services when I stumbled across this on digg: The ParkWhiz service lets you search for parking before you get into your car.

The phosphors were barely dry on my earlier post about local Internet services when I stumbled across this on digg: The ParkWhiz service lets you search for parking before you get into your car.

Enter your destination and ParkWhiz will tell you where to find parking nearby. You can filter results by walking time and by parking provider, and you can rate parking locations for cleanliness, courtesy, etc.

For example, here's results for the Sears Tower in Chicago. Locations are currently limited to Chicago and Philadelphia.

Frank Gruber notes that these guys really need to offer a mobile service.

ParkWhiz plans to offer a parking marketplace. Aashish Dalal, who calls himself "Chief Whiz," says the inspiration came when he and some friends were driving around at a football game, unable to find parking. As they trolled the side roads, they noticed people standing in the driveways of their homes holding signs, "Park here for $10." They decided to park at one of those. "As we pulled into the driveway, we were greeted by a lady who offered us lemonade and a big smile.... After the game, we came back to the house to again be greeted by the lady, who offered us another glass of lemonade."

Dalal added that "millions of driveways, parking lots, and even garages" go unused during the day, because there's no marketplace to sell the space.

The ParkWhiz Marketplace will go online early this year. Parking providers will pay ParkWhiz for the service, users get free access. Dalal notes that the service will provide cash for providers, convenience for users, and also benefit the environment by reducing traffic congestion and air pollution from people cruising around looking for parking.

This type of thing could be revolutionary for everyone who owns parking space in areas where parking is at a premium, or for anybody who looks for parking in such places--which is to say, most of the driving population of the world.

ParkWhiz ought to expand its service to allow people to reserve parking in advance for major events where parking is scarce.

And the site could be expanded to allow people to rent different kinds of property they're not using, such as gardening and recreational equipment. Your lawnmower could be earning income during the six days and 22 hours of the week you're not using it. And that woman who offers complimentary glasses of lemonade to her parking customers could pick up even more extra cash by letting them pay to use her bathroom.

To succeed, ParkWhiz needs to cut deals with the major search engines and directory services. If you search on Google Maps for, say, the Petco Park sports stadium in San Diego, you should get a link right next to the map entry that invites you to find parking near Petco Park, and directs you to ParkWhiz.

And that suggests the biggest threat to ParkWhiz: Low barriers to entry for competitors. If Google Maps -- or Yahoo Local or Ask City, or any other local directory service -- wants to offer parking finder, why would they contract with ParkWhiz? Why not just do it themselves?

By the way, the ParkWhiz name has unfortunate connotations for anyone who's ever lived in an urban area with parks and a large homeless population. I'm just sayin'.

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