We recently finalized a mini video about an unlucky character named Joey who circled around blocks of San Francisco in search of a parking spot. Sadly, a series of unfortunate events follow his bad parking karma. Certainly many of us can relate to his poor luck.
Hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it!
Do you have any tales of silly mishaps related to circling for parking? Share them in the comments and we’ll feature our favorite ones in a future blog post.
How many times have you left your car at home and jumped in a cab because you knew (or feared) that parking at your destination would be impossible – or at least as expensive as the taxi fare? Jump in the back of a Yellow Cab and you might see this very question staring back at you from the little info/payment terminal in the back of the car:
That’s right, we’re rolling out our first formal ad campaign across San Francisco and are very excited to see it further accelerate our steadily growing user base. Which is good news for everyone, since more users = more parking spots you can reserve. Faced with the question “Cab or Drive?” KurbKarma allows you to increasingly consider the latter.
If you spot one of our ads, we would love to hear from you on Twitter or Facebook. Oh, and the first 10 KurbKarma users posting pics of the ads in action WIN 10 KarmaKredits each which can be used to reserve parking.
We recently had the pleasure of interviewing with ABC news reporter Jonathan Bloom, who covers technology for the station. His story covered KurbKarma and a company called SideCar, a cool new ride sharing app that recently launched in San Francisco.
Check out the video here:
And the original full text can be found here and re-posted below:
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) – Getting around San Francisco can be a big headache, whether you’re stuck in traffic or just trying to park. But now, two apps for your mobile phone aim to make your trip around town faster and cheaper.
San Francisco’s streets are lined with restaurants, people, and of course cars — a problem if you’re trying to park yours. After almost an hour circling North Beach without finding a single spot — Neha Sampat came up with KurbKarma.
“KurbKarma is a social network for parking that helps you find parking where and when you need it, in cities like San Francisco,” said Sampat.
She and her co-workers demonstrated it for us. Just open the free app on your smartphone, and tell it where you need a spot. Other users who have a parking space, but are about to leave can offer you theirs.
“And they make an exchange. And the person who leaves actually gets an incentive called a ‘KarmaKredit,’” said Sampat.
You get one credit for every space you give up, but you have to spend two credits to get someone else’s space. Why the imbalance? Well, for the system to work, they need more people offering spaces than taking them. In fact, they want you get in the habit of always offering your space.
“Just like you might check in on Foursquare when you walk in, we want you to check out on KurbKarma when you walk out,” said Sampat.
Once you do drive off, look around your car. Odds are you’re the only person in it.
“Right now, drivers, they drive by themselves all over the place,” said Sunil Paul, the Sidecar CEO.
However, Paul’s company wants to change that with another social app called SideCar that matches up those solo drivers with people who need a ride.
“We’ve only been testing for four months and in that short amount of time we’ve already had 10,000 rides,” said Paul.
We got two SideCar users to show us how it works. The smartphone app finds your location and asks where you’re going. It alerts a nearby driver and if he’s going the same way, he can agree to pick you up.
Based on how far you drive, the app suggests a donation, which you can pay to the driver by credit card. It’s voluntary and often much less than a taxi.
“It definitely replaces both taking a cab and taking a bus, it’s just probably the most convenient thing I’ve found,” said Holly Kinzell, a SideCar passenger.
And for some drivers like Eric Janson, it’s a way to turn your free afternoon into some extra cash.
“It can average from as little as maybe $50-60 to maybe $120 if you’re driving more hours,” said Janson.
But SideCar’s getting a lukewarm reception from the San Francisco MTA. They’re concerned it’s an unlicensed taxi service, skirting around all the city’s taxi laws that are designed to keep people safe. SideCar’s CEO insists those laws don’t apply.
“We’re operating under rules created for ridesharing and carpooling. So those are state level regulations,” said Paul.
The critical distinction is if the passenger chooses how much to donate, if anything at all. Paul adds they do background checks on everyone who signs up to drive.
This aired two days after our highly publicized launch and on the eve of coverage by USA Today – a coincidence? Perhaps. Regardless, while entertained by the witty remark about parking apps, as good KurbKarma citizens, we feel compelled to address the safety issue on a more serious note.
First off, it should be noted that cell phone usage while driving is of course to be strongly discouraged, not to mention it is illegal in most states! This, however, is only one part of the problem. The real danger stems from distracted driving which causes the majority of accidents. Whether you’re distracted because you’re texting, or distracted trying to change the radio station, reaching for your latte, or trying to scout for a parking spot – it’s all risky and dangerous.
Think about it – when circling for a parking spot, a driver’s attention is diverted as he or she scans for people who might be heading towards their car, rubbernecking, eyes dashing all over the place, checking for street signs, curbside parking restrictions – all the while driving erratically with unpredictable braking and accelerating, rushed u-turns.
The answer, of course, isn’t to stare at an app on your phone while you’re driving. That’s why KurbKarma allows you to find and reserve parking before you ever get into your car and drive to your destination. The app is also designed to allow one-click communication. That way, if you’re running late for your spot, you can pull over and – with the touch of a single button – let the person holding their spot for you know, before continuing on with your journey. That’s it. No starting at the app required. And of course, if you’re lucky enough to have someone in the car with you, you can delegate even that operation and avoid stopping altogether.
KurbKarma aims to give you the peace of mind that there’s a parking spot waiting for you at your destination. Since you know where you’re going to park, you can drive safely and focus on reaching your destination.
But we have to admit Leno’s version is definitely much funnier
We have all been there: you are in your car, you need to park, and you cannot, no matter how much you try, find a space. You see cars pulling away, but it’s too far for you to get there before another car swoops in. You see people walking and you trail them, hoping they’re heading to a vehicle. It’s a frustrating state of affairs, but a new startup, KurbKarma, is launching today at TC Disrupt New York to try to solve it.
“Parking where and when you need it” is the basic idea here: you have people who have spaces they are about to leave; and you have people who need spaces. The app (available for iOS) works like an ad hoc social network to link these people up. Those who have a space can post their status on an app, those who need a space find one on the map. The app integrates with Google Maps to plot spaces near you, and lets you send messages — several sendable with the touch of a button — to let the space owners know how far away you are.
Spaces are “sold” with KarmaKredits: people who donate their spot pick up one KarmaKredit. People who need a space use two KarmaKredits to buy them.
Like many of the best ideas out there, KurbKarma came out of the immediate needs of its founders. Neha Sampat and Matthew Baier are friends with longstanding backgrounds in tech, who are both also qualified as sommeliers, and they had a plan to get together to scheme for their next enological activity. Arranging to meet in the North Beach district of San Francisco, they drove around, looking for a place to park — which can be an impossible task in that part of town. By the time finally found a place to park, they knew what they had to do next: try to solve this problem for themselves and others.
What’s interesting about the app is that it has both a practical and a moral twist to it. “There’s an element of paying it forward,” says Baier. “It’s a community effort to make parking easier; you are adding additional parking spaces to the public domain.” He also points out that the app helps aid the “peace of mind” of the driver, allowing them to focus on driving rather than looking off the road for a spot.
But it’s not all about charity and goodwill: KurbKarma has also started to work a revenue model into the business, in the form of a virtual currency. You can always use the app free of charge, but if you have not had the chance to pick up KarmaKredits by offering spaces to the network, you can buy some through the App Store, with each credit costing $0.99. The app is free in the app store, and every new user gets 10 free KarmaKredits for signing up.
The pair have been picking up a mailing list of users for launch with a bit of viral marketing that has clearly struck a chord in the traffic-choked streets of San Francisco: they went around a few areas of town — including the financial district and Dolores Park — and put what looked like parking tickets under the wipers of various cars.
Then they stepped back to watch: people would pick them up, thinking “Oh no, not another parking ticket,” said co-founder Matthew Baier. Inside: a note about how annoying parking can be with a link to a fun domain offering a solution for how to improve it. (example: parkingisabitch.com) They’ve collected 2,500 names this way so far.
In the future, there are some exciting developments planned for KurbKarma. They include an Android version to complement the iOS app coming out today. And there are also discussions with other device makers (eg GPS system producers) to integrate with some of the other tools that drivers already use to get around. (The reason that the pair went with iOS first, says Sampat, is because they are launching in New York and San Francisco — both cities where people use their smartphones for navigation; in the future, when the company expands to other markets, especially in regions like Europe, where GPS in-car navigation systems are very popular, other hardware will need to come into play.)
Baier also says that KurbKarma is working on expanding the kinds of spaces that they will integrate into the app: right now it’s geared at public parking, but down the line there will also be options to take private parking, in the form of garages, driveways and other off-street spaces. And, crucially for the business’ scale, it is talking with some large third parties that already focus on car-based city travel to help market the offering.
I have to admit when I first heard the idea for KurbKarma, I had my doubts: it puts too much weight on the goodwill of other people, and being able to plan and stick to commitments with total strangers — and there are so many variables: traffic that can delay you; people needing to rush away and leave the space before they said they would; and people changing their mind and staying longer than originally intended.
There are some elements already worked into the app that should help discourage flaky behavior, such as user ratings after a transaction is completed (or not, as the case may be): “It will happen from time to time that people leave,” notes Sampat. “But if they do that they will see negative ratings. The ratings will weed out those who do not follow the rules.”
And sometimes it is the most unlikely — and original — of ideas that really take off. Just think of Airbnb and the idea of people who had never thought of themselves as ad hoc hoteliers suddenly giving up rooms in their private homes: that, too, sounded like a big leap for people to take. And yet today I think it’s miles better than most of the hotel options many cities offer. “Sharing models are becoming more mainstream,” says Baier. “The idea is already out there.” I’d put a few KarmaKredits on KurbKarma striking a similar chord.
KurbKarma, a Social Network for Parking Now Available Mobile App Will Allow Users to Establish Peer-to-Peer Connections to Find and Reserve Parking in New York City and San Francisco
New York, NY – May 22, 2012 – TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield finalist KurbKarma this week announced general availability in the Apple App Store. The KurbKarma app establishes a peer-to-peer connection between people leaving desirable parking spots with people who need them, and rewards both sides for the exchange.
“Today, we are disrupting parking once and for all,” says Matthew Baier, Co-Founder, KurbKarma. “Almost half of the traffic in cities like Brooklyn is a result of people circling for parking. With KurbKarma you can find awesome parking – where and when you need it – bringing better parking karma to the neighborhoods that require it most.”
The app helps you find and reserve the right parking spot, guides you to it with built-in navigation, and rewards the other party for giving up their spot to you. The award comes in the form of KarmaKredits. Each KarmaKredit is valued at $1.
“We built the app with a sense of community and compassion,” says Neha Sampat, Co-Founder, KurbKarma. “With KurbKarma, when you luck out and find a killer parking spot, you get a chance to ‘pay it forward’ and are rewarded with a KarmaKredit for your good deed. You can then use this KarmaKredit towards reserving a spot at any time.”
The app allows you to coordinate the exchange with another user, without revealing personal details such as your phone number. At the end of the exchange, users rate each other on the experience, encouraging courteous behavior while using the app.
Pricing KurbKarma is free for download today in the Apple App Store. Every new user will be awarded 10 free KarmaKredits just for signing up. Additional KarmaKredits can be earned by making your parking spot available to the KurbKarma community, or through purchase in the App Store for $1. To find a parking spot using the app, a user contributes two KarmaKredits for the reservation.
Share the News Social network for #parking @kurbkarma launches in NYC & SF! Get 10 free KarmaKredits today www.kurbkarma.com/download
Signup KurbKarma is completely free for anyone to download and all new users will get 10 free KarmaKredits (a $10 value) just for signing up. Learn more at www.kurbkarma.com or download in the app store today.
About KurbKarma KurbKarma is a mobile app that connects people who are looking for parking with people leaving desirable parking spots and establishes a peer-to-peer agreement for a parking spot exchange. KurbKarma was selected as a Startup Battlefield finalist at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC in May 2012. Launched for San Francisco and NYC users, the team plans to expand to other cities moving forward. Learn more at http://www.kurbkarma.com.
For The Press This media kit includes creative assets, including our logo, founder photos, a photo of our pre-launch parking “citation” and links to a teaser and demo video: http://gbng.mp/kurbkarmamediakit
You may have noticed that we’ve been a little quiet lately. We had the unique opportunity to compete in the first round of TechCrunch Disrupt NYC 2012 —a coveted competition for technology start-ups. Until now, we were obligated to keep our participation in the event top secret.
We’re proud to annouce that KurbKarma is available for download in the App Store for the first time today!
While we wait to hear whether we’ll make it into the finals, we need your help. Please help spread the word to people who would benefit from better parking karma.
For a limited time, new users can get 10 free KarmaKredits (a $10 value!) by entering the promo code “DisruptNYC” at http://kurbkarma.com/promo. This offer expires on Thursday, May 24 so please download the app today and encourage others to do the same!
How does pitching a parking app to investors result in this?
Allow me to explain… Last Thursday we had the privilege of pitching KurbKarma to a room full of angel investors at Stanford. Now, we should clarify we weren’t actually looking for funding. Rather, we were invited to present by two friends enrolled in an angel investors course, led by the fabulous Carol Sands.
Each student had to find a real startup and teach them about the ins and outs of seeking investment. We were selected and coached by our friends, culminating in us having to prepare a 12-minute presentation, pitching to the entire class as if we were seeking funding from them.