Anyone who owns a car and has lived in a large city for longer than a week understands the pains of parking in an urban environment.
No matter what time of the year it is, drivers have to move their cars to new legal parking spots every few days to ensure they don’t get ticketed or towed. The entire reason behind these city parking rules is so street sweepers can come through to maintain the cleanliness of the neighborhoods.
To help with this onerous task, one entrepreneur has taken it to the next level with his company DropCar. Instead of people having to constantly move their cars, they can pay for DropCar to take care of cars’ movement to legal spots. We sat down with DropCar’s CEO, Spencer Richardson, to get a better understanding of how the company came to be, what it offers and where it hopes to go in the future.
PYMNTS: In your own words, what is DropCar about?
SR: We like to think of ourselves as a solution to the problems with urban growth and planning as it relates to cars and parking. DropCar is a complete “vehicle support platform” that helps car owners, renters and even manufacturers deal with moving and maintaining their cars. We replace the traditional garage with a “virtual garage” that is more cost effective and efficient for car owners. Through our app, monthly parking customers can request to have their cars picked up or dropped off where and when they desire by one of our highly trained and courteous valets. We take it a step beyond car valet by also filling up the vehicle with gas or taking it out for its yearly inspection.
On the business side, we handle all of the movements outside of the dealership for manufacturers such as Mercedes Benz, Audi, Range Rover and others. In an effort to service more customers and deliver better service, DropCar valets pick up and deliver the brands’ customers’ cars when they need to come in for service.
On the luxury residential real estate side, we’re working with luxury developers to create “virtual garages” for new developments that have on-premise parking. On-demand valet parking will become the latest luxury amenity in buildings across the city.
PYMNTS: What’s the story behind how DropCar got started?
SR: I have always been entrepreneurial and try to always think of solutions for problems I see in the world around me. After getting my first car in Manhattan, I used to pay my roommate to go wait in the car and move it according to the alternate side of the street parking. To me, having to find a legal parking space — and moving the car constantly — was a pain point. I was introduced to my co-founder, David Newman, through mutual contacts, and it turns out he had years of experience in parking garage development and management. Once the two of us got talking, we both wondered why there wasn’t more valet parking in NYC like there is in places like Los Angeles. We came together to create DropCar, which re-imagines the way city-dwellers interact with their automobiles.
PYMNTS: How does the pricing model work, and how does your company get paid?
SR: We have two revenue sources: consumers and car dealers/manufacturers.
On the consumer side, we offer two services: “Steve” — a monthly membership that replaces traditional garages starting at $349 per month — and “Will” — on-demand valet service/personal chauffeur for $15 per hour.
On the industry side, we negotiate fees based on movements and volume.
PYMNTS: Who does your company see as its competition, if any, and why?
SR: In the on-demand, technology part of the business, Luxe is our main competitor. Although our service offering is better and more efficient, they are currently in more markets. To some degree, the old, traditional garage is still our competitor — but that is changing as car owners start to see the benefit and savings associated with adopting our technology.
PYMNTS: Since its inception, how much has your company grown year over year? What does it attribute this to?
SR: Since the inception a little over a year ago, the company has doubled every quarter. Word of mouth is key. The offering has expanded from just Manhattan to include Brooklyn and Long Island City. Additionally, the B2B side of the business has grown, handling the movements for the likes of Mercedes and Range Rover.
PYMNTS: How many rounds of funding has DropCar received?
SR: To date, we’ve raised funding from friends and family with a littel angel money. We are currently preparing to conduct a round of funding in the near future.
PYMNTS: What does the term “Uber of X” mean to you, and how does DropCar fit that mold?
SR: It’s really the on-demand culture. With DropCar, customers have their cars delivererd, picked up and even filled with gas on-demand from their iPhones.
PYMNTS: As most startups have their fair share of hiccups, can you share a few lessons learned or anecdotes?
SR: What I’ve learned from my other businesses is to not try to expand too fast. Walk before you run. It is because of this that I decided to really focus on New York to perfect the offering before expanding to other cities.
PYMNTS: What are DropCar’s 2017 goals?
SR: This year our goal really is growth in new markets, more customers and additional manufacturing contracts.