Parkable's journey from a tiny outfit renting driveways around Eden Park to global player continues.
The Auckland start-up has raised $4.6 million in a Series A round led by Spark, and supported by Trade Me alumnus Rowan Simpson, former Vista executive Peter Beguely, former Edelman Asia-Pacific boss David Brain and early PushPay backer Jason Kilgour.
The money was raised at a $36m valuation, meaning founders Brody Nelson (the tech brain), Warwick Beauchamp (the business coach and investor) and Toby Littin (the manager) retain majority control.
Spark already had a small holding. Other small investors include the Crown-backed New Zealand Investment Fund and Auckland man Duncan Greive.
When the Herald first caught up with Parkable in 2015, the three-man startup was using its app to list driveways and off-street parking spaces near Eden Park for an All Black test.
Today, it lets punters reserve or grab-on-the-fly one of several thousand carparks around NZ, with its app displaying real-time availability and pricing.
And on the host side of the equation, it lets you monetise your work carpark space after hours or turn an unused piece of commercial land into a carpark, using Parkable for bookings.
Parkable takes a 20 to 40 per cent stake, depending on the number of spaces involved and whether you manage your own carpark.
The company also has a new enterprise product, which allows large organisations to manage their carparks - for which Spark was a pilot customer, along with Datacom, IAG and KPMG. It can be used for allocating guest car parks, or to wrangle the "hotdesking" shared spots.
The chief executive says the enterprise service, which costs from 50 cents per space per day, is Parkable's key point of difference in what he concedes is a crowded market worldwide (Parkable did have two competitors here, when the Herald first profiled it during its Eden Park days, but both have subsequently bitten the dust).
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Spark future of connectivity lead, Renee Mateparae pitched her company's investment as an internet of things (IoT) play.
"We see parking as a key vertical in our IoT segment and this is a strategic investment for us. The Parkable platform offers a unique value proposition in this space for our customers across many industries. It truly demonstrates one of the early use cases for IoT technology – providing a valuable service for consumers and businesses alike and allowing for better asset utilisation."
The Herald visited Spark, where Parkable's system for businesses was in the process of being set up. Sensors are placed in the middle of each car park, which in turn allow an admin at Spark to keep up to date via dashboard software which shows which spaces are filled, and when (and here, Parkable strays into the territory occupied by Frog Parking, which sells sensor systems for commercial carparks).
Parkable charges $15 per space per month for its management system, with no setup costs.
In February, Parkable expanded across the Tasman by buying Park Genie.
Chief executive and co-founder Toby Littin said the deal would give his company access to 1200 car park spaces in Brisbane, on top of the 5500 it already has on its books in NZ.
At the time, the startup said it had around 50,000 users in Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington and Brisbane. Today it boasts 60,000.
May saw Parkable push into China, via joint venture with a trio of expats who have spent decades navigating that market. Littin said the move could double the size of Parkable's business within 12 months.
It's early days but Littin says two enterprise customers have signed on so far: EV Power, which claims to be China's biggest EV charger provider, and Century Bashi (a large commercial building in Shanghai).
Littin says the Series A money will be used to expand into a third overseas market. Two are on the shortlist: Singapore and Canada.
The startup will also keep adding bodies. When the Herald checked in during February, it had 27 staff. Today, Littin said the headcount stands at 40 - and he's budgeting for 65 within a year.
The CEO says his company now has enough cash, or runway, in startup-speak, for another two years. Prodded to look further ahead, he says an IPO would be possible, but a trade sale would be the most likely exit.
Littin says his company loves Auckland; it will remain headquartered here and continue to try to grab more of its 100,000 or so leasable car parks.
But, ultimately, he says it's a small market that serves as a test bed.
His company's fortunes will be decided on how it performs overseas - particularly how the burgeoning Chinese middle class reacts takes to its product as they hunt for a park.