Originally published in Chicago Inno
January 07, 2021, 03:11pm CST
By Jim Dallke
Despite the precipitous drop in demand for parking in 2020, two parking tech startups see a bright future for the industry and have merged to help parking companies survive during Covid and beyond.
This week Chicago-based Arrive and Austin-based FlashParking merged to create a company designed to bring digital and touchless technologies to parking garages. The pandemic has accelerated the need for such services, the CEOs of both companies said in an interview, and the combined business aims to help garages with not just digital parking solutions, but a range of micro-mobility tools and integrations designed to reimagine what a parking garage can be.
FlashParking, which develops software that helps parking operators manage their lots, is focused on delivering a “windows up” experience to users, CEO Dan Sharplin said, meaning allowing drivers to find, book, pay and enter parking garages without having to ever roll down their window or interact with a payment machine.
“In the age of Covid, when no one wanted to touch anything, that really, really was to our benefit,” Sharplin said.
FlashParking has around 230 employees, up from 150 at the start of the year. It was able to avoid layoffs, Sharplin said, and its business grew nearly 50% year-over-year.
Arrive operates consumer parking app ParkWhiz along with a B2B service that integrates parking solutions into brands like Ford, Ticketmaster and Hyundai. Arrive’s consumer business saw parking volume plummet as much as 95%, CEO Yona Shtern said, and the company went through temporary furloughs and adjusted its headcount as a result. But thanks to the company’s B2B business, it was able to “weather that storm and come back stronger than before,” Shtern said.
Today Arrive has more than 100 employees, giving the combined company a headcount of around 330. The business will operate dual headquarters in Chicago and Austin, and Shtern and Sharplin will function as co-CEOs.
The merger will also not result in any layoffs, the executives said.
“This is a growth story not only for the company, but for the people within it,” Shtern said, adding that Arrive plans to grow its presence in Chicago.
FlashParking say its mission is to transform parking garages into facilities that do more than just house cars, such as offer electric scooters, charge electric cars and even one day house last-mile delivery robots or be a landing spot for drones. FlashParking will incorporate Arrive’s parking app and digital services into its operating platform. Both companies will continue to have their own branding.
“Flash was born out of a need to digitize and modernize parking infrastructure,” Sharplin said, adding that the Arrive merger was a “hand-in-glove fit.”
Founded in 2011, FlashParking last raised $60 million from private equity firm L Catterton. Arrive, founded originally in 2006 under its ParkWhiz brand, has raised over $60 million in venture funding from backers that include Amazon’s Alexa Fund.