Luxe Aims To Solve San Francisco’s Parking Crisis

iphone1In some areas of San Francisco, a good parking spot is often hard to find.

But what if a valet met you at a chosen destination, parked your car nearby, and brought it back as soon as you were ready to leave?

A new app did just that this week. The startup behind this on-demand valet service is called Luxe, and its app became available on Apple’s App Store today.

How it works: Drivers use the Luxe app to request a valet to meet them at a location where they will need to park their car. The Luxe valets, who need about 10 minutes advance notice, show up on foot, skateboard or scooter. The driver goes about his business while the valet parks the car in one of the several garages around town where Luxe has leased dozens of spaces. Cars are never parked on the street.

The driver notifies the valet through the app what time and where he wants his car back, and the valet will deliver it. The user can track their car’s location and the location of the valet in real-time through the smartphone app.

“There’s a lot of nuanced things that we had to solve from a technology standpoint,” said Co-Founder and CEO Curtis Lee. “There are two moving targets that have to arrive at the same time. What if there’s a Giant’s game and there’s traffic?”

Luxe has been in beta for six months with “several hundreds of customers,” said Lee, and many have been using the app when going to doctor’s appointments, meetings or even a full day of work, because the cost of the app is cheaper than many San Francisco parking garages. The service is $5 per hour or $15 for a full day — the median price for all-day parking in a garage in San Francisco is $29. About 60 percent of the customers during the beta period used the app more than twice a week.

The service is available only in San Francisco, and customers can join a waitlist starting Thursday, with a few added to the service each day, Lee said. However, three San Francisco restaurants — Alta CA, Stones Throw and AQ — have partnered with Luxe to make the parking service available to their patrons.

The biggest challenge for Luxe and other valet services could be finding enough parking spaces to meet demand for the service. A fee of $15 is half the amount some San Francisco parking lots charge, suggesting that many of the city’s lots may just be unwilling to work with the company.

Lee says that fee is sustainable, and is balancing supply with demand by rolling out the service slowly. Luxe is only available in San Francisco to a limited number of users until it can get enough parking lots and valets to meet expected demand. Eventually, Lee hopes to expand to Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington and Boston.

Luxe, founded in San Francisco last year, has 20 employees. Lee wouldn’t say how many valets Luxe employs, but says they are a combination of full-time staff and part-time contractors, some of whom get equity in the company.

Source: SiliconBeat

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