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South Valley Journal

New app aims to make finding parking at U smoother

Feb 11, 2020 11:38AM ● By Libby Allnatt

A new app may change how students navigate the daily parking hassle at the University of Utah. (Photo by Edgar Zuniga Jr./Flickr)

By Libby Allnatt | [email protected] 

Finding a parking spot is one of those daily hassles everyone who drives needs to do. Fortunately, some University of Utah students want to make it a smoother ride. 

Brandon Howard of South Jordan, a film student at the university, is involved with the development of a new app called Parq, which aims to make driveways and other areas with parking potential rentable to students. Think Airbnb, but instead of a space in the home, residents are renting out the coveted real estate of their empty driveways to students needing a place to park their cars during the day. 

“I came from a video game background, I design digital assets and skins for video games,” Howard said. “I met Will through a friend and we decided we wanted to work on the project.”

William Pepper, the founder of the app and a computer science student, said he got the idea for Parq after struggling to find parking even after buying a parking pass. 

“I was driving around looking for parking and I realized businesses and homes have many unused parking spots,” he said. “I thought, someone should rent out these spots and there should be an app like that.” 

The project received funding from the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute (lassonde.utah.edu/) via a $2,500 grant through the Get Seeded program (lassonde.utah.edu/getseeded) in October. 

“I didn't really know anything about starting a business or anything like the tech space yet, so I did some research and I found out about the program at Lassonde,” he said. “So I entered that and put a lot of work into setting it up.”

Developer Juno Kim and advisor and entrepreneur Chris Le are also a part of the project. 

Pepper said that the amount of businesses around the University of Utah opens up even more potential for rentable parking spaces, potential Parq has worked hard to tap into. 

“I went door to door asking houses and business if they were interested in this,” Pepper said. 

He said they have about 50 homes on board, and a nearby 7-Eleven. They are in talks with more businesses and plan to add more in the next few months. 

Howard said having this hard work of getting people onboard already started will help the app when it’s time for its official launch. 

“We did the physical work, we went around, emailed people that were interested in renting out their parking lot, we already had that,” Howard said. “So once the app finishes, hopefully it will be a pretty easy rollout because we already did the grunt work of the door to door.”

Howard also says that gamification of the app will help, adding features that incentivize users and ensure a long-lasting app that’s rewarding to use. 

“Parking is a task everyone needs to do,” Howard said. “By adding gamification, it will add more incentive. Any app that has an economy behind it, it will pretty much survive forever.”

Pepper said he hopes to expand Parq, even bringing it to other states that are lacking in such apps. 

“We’re really excited. We’ve been working hard and trying to make a difference in this parking industry.”