On a post-college visit to San Francisco, Anthony Eskinazi was driving around before a Giants game, hunting for a parking spot in vain, when he jokingly asked a friend, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could knock on that lady’s door, give her $10, and park in her driveway?” It’s not an uncommon sentiment, but Eskinazi–who eventually returned to England–decided to run with the idea, creating ParkatmyHouse, a site that connects homeowners and businesses that have parking to spare with the desperate drivers who spend hours circling around the block.
ParkatmyHouse has operated in the U.K.–where it has over 150,000 customers–since 2006. Thanks to new backing by BMWi Ventures (BMW’s venture capital arm), the service is expanding to the U.S., starting with New York, Washington, D.C., and Boston. It’s an easy way to make a buck, and, according to Eskinazi, a security feature for many users since it gives the impression that someone is home. “Homeowners like the idea of a car parked outside their property,” he says.
There are already a number of parking listings in the U.S., even though the service just launched this month. Want a private garage in Harvard Square? That’ll be $200 a month. A private driveway in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn? That’s $15 per day.
The site gives parking space owners guidance on how much they should charge, courtesy of a partnership with Parkopedia, the largest database of parking information in world. ParkatmyHouse takes a 15% commission on parking spot rentals, and Eskinazi estimates that the site has earned its customers $2.5 million to $3 million each year in the U.K. The site is generally cheap for drivers, too–a traditional parking spot near London’s Heathrow Airport might cost £7 to £8 a day, while the average ParkatmyHouse spot is £2 to £3 a day.
Parking spot sharing is perhaps the least invasive element of the growing sharing economy, which consists of carsharing services like RelayRides, homesharing sites like Airbnb, and more. There is minimal interaction with the people renting your parking space, and unless they ram their car into your house, little risk of property damage.
Eskinazi also emphasizes the environmental credentials of the service. “If you’re driving around looking for a parking space, there’s an increase in pollution and congestion, which increases parking rage, and you’re more likely to have an accident,” he says. “We’re essentially creating a decentralized car park. We’re hoping over time as we grow that fewer car parks will need to be built.”