Shadrach Vaughn is the founder and CEO of ParkConnect, a brand-new app that allows homeowners, business owners, and anyone with driveways or commercial lots in San Diego, to publicize their unused parking spaces so ParkConnect users can book a spot on demand. ParkConnect officially launched just last month and already has more than 200 users. Vaughn calls it an “Airbnb for parking.”
“It’s about not letting that space go to waste and also help residents have an extra source of income, which is always helpful in today’s economy,” said Vaughn. “It’s a good environmental push too. The more people are driving around looking for a space, the more greenhouse gases are pushed into the air. The fact that we’re helping reduce the carbon emissions in that sense is awesome as well.”
Vaughn’s idea to create ParkConnect stemmed from his move to the Mission Beach area, and realizing just how valuable a personal parking space is in a beach-side community.
“The first couple summers, I would see people come to the beach, do a few laps around the block and then decide to just go home,” said Vaughn. “It was crazy to see how bad parking was in Mission Beach. The worst is when you’re trying to find parking and you’re passing empty driveways you would just kill to park in for the day.”
Then, after watching his neighbors do the same, Vaughn learned he could sell his personal parking spot to make some extra cash.
“Usually, when I’d sell my parking space, it was to a family with a couple kids in the back seat and the kids were always just so excited to get to the beach for the day,” said Vaughn. “It was great to see the smile on the people’s faces when they knew they could just head off to the beach.”
Though he made almost $1,000 in just one summer, Vaughn found that it was inefficient to be out on the street corner in the summer heat with a sign every morning. He figured there had to be a better way.
Joining forces with Eric Norcross, who is now ParkConnect’s chief technology officer, and designer Emily Chois, Vaughn and his team of three have extended ParkConnect’s reach to not only Mission Beach, but also Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, La Jolla and downtown San Diego by Horton Plaza, giving residents more time and a money-efficient way to find parking.
“Having struggled with the increasingly difficult and time-consuming task of finding parking anywhere one would want to be, I was immediately interested in joining ParkConnect,” said Norcross. “I approached building the app from the perspective of a potential user and did my best to make the site as user-friendly as possible.
“Two of the areas I spent a significant amount of time on where revising the checkout flow, and the process of adding a listing, which is now done in a series of steps, so the user isn’t overwhelmed with a giant ‘all or nothing’ form.”
On ParkConnect.co, owners can list their empty spots and post hourly, daily or monthly rates. Those who are looking for parking enter the location they need, select a time frame and choose from a list of options. The listers, or “hosts,” will often list the parking spaces for less than what people would normally have to pay for them.
ParkConnect continues to grow each day, averaging about 25 new users per week and the San Diego Airport recently accepted the app into their pilot program to test the parking. Vaughn and his team are hoping to add holiday promo codes to the app as well.
“The ultimate goal is to have shared parking communities throughout the U.S. beach and urban areas,” said Vaughn. “We want to allow people to really get immersed in this shared economy through parking and allow everyone to get to where they want to go.”
He adds: “Just this past week, I had a long day at work and decided I wanted to go to the beach to take a walk and relax, and that’s something I think everyone should be able to experience. It seems like an obvious thing, but if you can’t find parking it’s just more stressful.
“Everyone should be able to walk on the beach and not have to go home because they can’t find parking.”
How does it work?
On ParkConnect.co, owners can list their empty spots and post hourly, daily or monthly rates. Those who are looking for parking enter the location they need, select a time frame and choose from a list of options.