Nfld. & Labrador

Like Uber for parking spots: Parkii program launches on MUN campus

Some people see only frustration when it comes to looking for a parking spot, but one MUN student instead saw a business opportunity.

Parkii allows people to bid on parking spots or make money by renting unused spaces in their driveways

People looking for a parking space around Memorial University's St. John's campus can now use a new smartphone app to rent vacant spaces in people's driveways. (CBC/Re/Max)

Some people see only frustration when it comes to the lack of available parking spots around Memorial University, but one electrical engineering student instead saw a great business opportunity.

Parkii is a new online application that connects homeowners and landlords who have parking spaces in their driveways to people who need a spot near their workplace or school. The app utilizes the shared economy model like the transportation app Uber or accomodations app AirBnB.

Parkii works by allowing those looking for a parking spot to bid on spaces that homeowners make available. The homeowner agrees to rent out their space on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, and sets a minimum price for the auction.

Eti Umobong is a third year electrical engineering student at MUN, and the founder of Parkii, a smartphone app that allows people to bid on or rent out empty parking spaces in their driveways. (Todd O'Brien/CBC)

Founder Eti Umobong says right now the app is just focused on spaces around Memorial's St. John's campus, where demand for parking spaces has long exceeded the amount of permits the university offers in its parking lottery.

"We first did our initial thesis test around Memorial University campus and we found there could be potentially 20 spaces ranging from Pinebud Avenue all the way to Freshwater Road that would be available," Umobong said.

"Chances are that number could largely scale up when we extend for the whole of St. John's."

The Parkii is available now and is focused just on MUN's St. John's campus, but the company plans to expand to the rest of the province and Atlantic Canada. (Todd O'Brien/CBC)

To get Parkii off the ground, Umobong and his team are working with Memorial University's Genesis Centre, a business incubator for technology start-ups, through the centre's Evolution program.

The app is already online, and Umobong says there are already several spots up for bidding with a few already being rented out.

Once a space is rented, the company takes a 15 per cent cut. It also offers additional services, such as snowclearing.

Plans to expand

While the program is currently focused on MUN campus, Umobong has plans to extend it to the rest of the province and to other cities in Atlantic Canada, such as Halifax, where he feels the same demand for parking spaces exists.

"Places like that would likely have a high potential to need this service," he said. "They are house satellite cities, cities with a lot of houses that are close to businesses. Places like that are potential target customers."

With files from On The Go