Commuting in Beijing is an endurance test, but a startup called Ubo wants to make life a little easier for drivers. The app connects users with valets at service stations in the city, who then drop off the car at a parking spot. Ubo has just raised $900,000 in funding from HGDS Capital, bringing its total funding so far to $1.42 million.
Ubo’s services are similar to Luxe Valet, which serves five U.S. cities where parking is also a headache, including San Francisco.
Ubo costs $3 for valet service and $1 to $2 per hour for a parking space and also offers a flat monthly rate of $150. The company currently claims 10,000 active users, 65 percent of whom use it more than once a month.
“Many young people, especially those in their thirties, are willing to pay for the service in exchange for more free time,” says founder Corrine Zhao.
Zhao says that there are currently 5.48 million active vehicles in Beijing, but only 2.76 million registered parking spaces. The shortage is so acute that Beijing’s government wants to impose a rule that requires residents to own a parking space before they are allowed to purchase vehicle.
At the same time, Zhao notes, parking spaces in less heavily trafficked parts of Beijing often go unoccupied. Ubo has signed contracts for the exclusive use of 500 spots around the city and plans to add more parking lots soon. It also plans to increase its number of service stations from nine to 15 by the end of this month.
Other parking valet apps in Beijing include Tingchebao, but Ubo differentiates by equipping its employees with body cam and smartphone so they record the parking process and then take photos of the car when it is dropped off and its mileage.
This not only gives users peace of mind, but also protects Ubo since they have a record of any pre-existing damage, like paint scratches, to a vehicles.
Zhao says extending its service stations to more business districts and the areas around major hospitals and airports is a priority, but Ubo will expand to Shanghai and Chengdu after closing its Series A.