Parking Spot Finder Parking Panda Raises Seed Round, Expands To D.C.

Parking Panda, the startup that wants to make it easier for drivers to rent spaces or rent out their unused driveways, is expanding its regional coverage with today’s public launch. The company has just arrived in Washington, D.C. – its second market outside of Baltimore, which served as the home for Parking Panda’s beta testing.

The team has also closed a $250,000 round of seeding funding and has secured partnerships with several parking garage companies, allowing it to serve up thousands of garage-provided spaces in both Baltimore and D.C., in addition to those rented out by individual parking spot owners.

For those unfamiliar with how Parking Panda works, drivers can go online or use the mobile site (native apps will arrive in a couple of months) to search for and book an available parking space. On the website, space owners can also list their spaces for rent, using Parking Panda’s “suggested price” to help them figure out how much the space is worth at the time of posting. When the space is rented, Parking Panda takes a cut of the transaction price (now 20%).

If you had previously characterized Parking Panda as an “Airbnb for cars,” you would only be half right. While the company does allow those with an extra parking space to share – like an unused driveway as they go out for the night (or for the weekend) – that’s only part of the business.

The other part involves working with parking garage owners in major cities on yield optimization for their own empty spaces. When lots are empty, garages can massively discount the lots to fill them up. When the lots again approach full, garages can begin to charge more.

As for which model dominates, it depends on the time of the year. As co-founder Nick Miller told us, when Parking Panda launched its beta in Baltimore, it arrived during football season. At the time, around 70% of its bookings were via the so-called “collaborative consumption” model where individual space owners would rent out their spaces to other drivers. After football season ended, however, the garages began to dominate, with individual space owners’ rentals dropping to 15%-20% of company’s total bookings.

Today, Parking Panda has partnerships with five garage companies in Baltimore, representing 20 garages or over 1,250 spaces, depending on how you like to count things. In D.C., there are 25 to 30 garages now available, with around 1,500 spaces. Two notable new partnerships include deals with regional outfit PMI and Central Parking, one of the largest garage companies in the country.

The startup will leverage these partnerships and add more as it expands to its next regions –  for example, to Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco, all of which are planned launches for the next few months.

Parking Panda is also building relationships with concert, events and visitor information providers, including Visit Baltimore and MissionTix (a concert ticket seller). These companies can use Parking Panda’s data to their help customers book a parking space for the event or activity they purchased, with the option appearing during the checkout process.

Currently, the startup is a team of three, including co-founders CEO Nick Miller and CTO Adam Zilberbaum. The company, which plays in the same space as ParkWhiz, Parking in Motion, Park Circa, Mobile Parking Apps, and others, has raised funding from Baltimore Angels including David Troy (Shortmail), Sean Lane (BTS) and Greg Cangialosi (Blue Sky Factory). Other angels include Fabrice Grinda and co-CEO Alec Oxenford from OLX, Jose Marin from IG Expansion, and Neil Kataria (CEO of newBrandAnalytics). The $250,000 is the first half of the seed round, and the other half is being raised now.