Finding empty parking spots in downtown Chattanooga or near Chattanooga airport could become easier.
Two recent college graduates plan to launch two separate companies aimed at making parking more efficient by using underutilized parking spots in one case, and in the other case locating empty parking spots in parking lots and garages for drivers through a phone application.
Marco Biscarni expects to launch a test version of LetMeParkIt in April, and Chandler Burke is in the initial stages of building ParkParrot with an undetermined launch date.
Biscarni noticed the gap between parking spaces and parking demand during his undergraduate years in San Diego. He also noticed that many homeowners had space on their property fit for parking. When he moved to Chattanooga last year, he also caught sight of unoccupied, lined expanses around churches, particularly those near the airport.
"They have huge parking lots, and they're really only in business Saturday and Sunday and maybe Wednesday and Friday," said Biscarni, 23, a University of California at San Diego graduate. "That means the whole rest of the week is open."
About six to eight churches are within two miles of the airport, and each has 20 to 500 spots, Biscarni said. Through LetMeParkIt travelers could park in them, and then take a taxi or Uber ride to the airport. Biscarni, who said he has connections to Uber's founder, is hoping in the future to work out a function on his company's website that allows users to reserve Uber rides.
Generally, LetMeParkIt will allow private entities to list parking inventory for use by the public. Property owners would set their own rates, and drivers could book spaces in advance. "These parking spaces will generate revenue for the owners and provide more parking options for drivers," Biscarni said. "The idea really is pretty simple." At this stage, Biscarni has not yet signed any parking areas.
Focused more on helping drivers locate empty, traditional parking spaces, ParkParrot hopes to partner with parking garages and lots in downtown Chattanooga for a phone application that identifies empty spots for users. It would do that with the use of removable sensors placed on pavement toward the front of parking spaces. Each sensor would read the occupancy of two to four spaces.
Burke, the startup's founder, said he is talking with one lot owner and one garage owner, but declined to name them.
An engineering professor designed the sensors, said Burke, 24, a University of Chattanooga at Tennessee graduate. Chattanoogan Keelan Carpenter, a security engineer, and UTC graduate students Stuart French and Hooper Kincannon designed the software.
ParkParrot currently has a working product, but it's a prototype, Burke said. SwiftWing Ventures gave seed money to the startup to get this far. Burke declined to disclose how much, saying the amount was "relatively small."
ParkParrot needs an investment of at least $75,000 to take off. That money would go toward hardware, software and further app development for the finalized product. A Kickstarter campaign, which ends in less than a week, has yet to raise pledges of only $1,774.
The app would be free for users.
Contact staff writer Mitra Malek at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6406. Follow her on Twitter @MitraMalek.