Monday, April 18, 2016

Parking App Targets Local Cable Guy, Electrician, Other Commercial Drivers

SpotPog, which connects drivers with a parking space with drivers looking for one, has teamed up with every borough's Chamber of Commerce to convince people to use the app.

You can find the original article by visiting Crain's New York Business

By Matthew Flamm

SpotPog, a free app for swapping public parking spots, launched in New York with some fanfare last June and then seemed to disappear. Its founder is now preparing a new initiative for the app, this time with a specific user in mind.

Instead of trying to sign up just about anyone with a car who needs a parking space, Manhattan-based SpotPog founder Jacques Blinbaum is targeting people whose livelihoods depend on finding a spot during the day: the city’s thousands of commercial drivers. Blinbaum, with the support of the chamber of commerce in each of the five boroughs, is seeking out electricians, plumbers, cable guys, contractors and the supervisors of commercial van fleets to build a critical mass for the app. A pilot program is set to begin in the coming weeks as drivers come on board.

"There really is a need in New York for this kind of crowd-sourced parking app," Blinbaum said. "The biggest value is for commercial users. For them, driving around in circles is about missing out on a job."

SpotPog's first year was a good learning experience for Blinbaum, who is CEO of the Brazilian electronic payments firm F2b, which he founded in 1998. He realized that the app, which shows nearby users available parking spots on a map, has worked best within small, closed communities: SpotPog has been very successful among students at Queens College and health-care workers around hospitals.

Blinbaum added that he hopes the circles of intense users will eventually overlap and create a community that crosses the city. With F2b as a development partner, he also sees the app one day expanding in the U.S. and internationally.

Users are given a credit when they first sign up for the app. They then earn a credit by handing their space over to the first user who contacts him or her. The credit system is designed to incentivize drivers to post the spaces they're about to leave, since they'll need that credit for a space the next time they're searching for one.

Blinbaum says he's looking to build a user base and is not concerned right now with making money from SpotPog. The app also allows homeowners to rent out their driveways for parking, and SpotPog takes a cut of that transaction.

The company found a receptive ear at each chamber of commerce since parking is such a universal headache, not to mention a source of traffic congestion and air pollution in every borough. About 30% of traffic in the city is believed to come from people searching for a space.

Blinbaum acknowledges that he will need to educate users in order for the app to succeed.

"People have to understand there's a tipping point here," he said. "Short of the tipping point, they may get frustrated and not come back. They have to understand they have to build a solution, and they all have to work together to do it."

Correction: SpotPog allows homeowners to rent out their driveways for parking, and the firm takes a cut of that transaction. That fact was misstated in an earlier version of this article published online April 14, 2016.

Source: Crain's New York Business