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AirGarage <3 Grand Rapids

AirGarage enables churches and small businesses to earn extra income by dynamically renting out their unused parking to drivers.

Photo of Jonathon Barkl
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AirGarage enables churches and small businesses to earn extra income by dynamically renting out their unused parking to drivers.

We offer a fully managed solution to churches and small businesses that have extra parking to empower them to boost their bottom line by monetizing an underutilized asset, their parking lots. We advertise their spots, dispatch drivers, collect payment, manage the parking lot, enforce against illegal parking, and ensure that the parking lot always has space to serve the church's members or the business' customers.

Our website allows the church or business to flexibly control the number of parking spaces that are available through the app for rent, setting up events to block off during service times or hours of peak demand.

Drivers then use the AirGarage app to view lots that have available spaces and pay to park by the hour. We only charge drivers for the exact time that they use and prorate their parking by the minute to avoid the waste of over-fed meters.

Drivers in cities waste an average of 17 hours per year driving in circles, wasting gas and searching for parking. However, the problem is not that there are not enough parking spaces. In fact, there are 8 parking spaces for every car in America.

Instead, the problem is that most businesses and churches in busy areas simply put up "no parking, tow away zone" signs because they see drivers parking in their lot as a problem.

Our goal is to change this mindset from that of a parking problem to a parking opportunity by offering these churches and businesses a simple way to monetize their parking lot.

As opposed to traditional parking apps which simply layer software onto existing garage spaces, creating value for garage owners by packing in more cars, we create value for drivers by opening up new parking supply (without the expensive $10,000 - $50,000 upfront capital cost per space of new construction) and driving down prices.

AirGarage is a win-win-win for our cities. Churches and small businesses earn extra income to support their ambitions, drivers save on parking, and our cities are less choked by the need for more and more parking.

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

AirGarage connects drivers looking for affordable and convenient parking with local churches and businesses that have underutilized parking spaces. Any driver that is trying to access an in-demand area can use AirGarage to view the number of available spaces at locations near them and then pay to park using the simple interface. Churches and businesses that traditionally chain off their lot or put up tow signs to ward off unwanted drivers use AirGarage to seamlessly rent out parking spaces to drivers in need, all while ensuring that parking is always available for their members and customers. Visitors to the church or business always receive free parking and can register themselves as a visitor without downloading the app simply by texting their license plate to a unique phone number and receiving a validation code from the church or business.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Ready to Scale - you have completed and expanded your pilot and are seeing adoption of your solution by your intended user

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

AirGarage is a startup based out of Tempe, Arizona. Our initial focus was on helping student drivers at Arizona State University find semester parking at local homes and churches. We took what we learned from version 1 (long term parking) of our product and have now built version 2 (on demand, hourly/daily parking). We currently operate both products in Tempe and Tucson, Arizona. Download the AirGarage app in the App Store or Google Play Store or visit www.airgara.ge for more information.

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Funding Request

  • $50,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

AirGarage keeps a 15% commission on all parking revenue earned at churches and businesses. This means that the church or small business keeps 85% of their parking revenue with little to no effort involved on their end. The 15% commission goes toward fueling future development, safety & security, payment processing, and driver outreach on the AirGarage platform. The $50,000 of funding requested would be utilized to cover the upfront capital cost of installing the necessary signage at churches and businesses throughout Grand Rapids in order to inform drivers and church/business visitors on the logistics of the new system. Our typical payback period on this installation before we begin earning a profit from the lot is 3 - 4 months and the funding would help us scale more quickly across the city.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

We would measure the success of the pilot by the total number of parking spaces available through the app, the revenue earned for the churches and small businesses of Grand Rapids, the number of registered app users, and the average number of parking rentals completed by each app user.

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Photo of Laura Muresan
Team

This is brilliant! There's one issue I can see, and that is for people who don't have texting. What do those people do? I am one of the few people who doesn't own a cell phone, so I'm wondering how I would park? My parents also don't know how to send a text even though they have a smart phone. Do you have a solution in place for this kind of issue?

How has this affected churches' tax-exempt status? My church, which is downtown (and has parking spots that might be good for a system such as this) pays property taxes on one of its lots that it rents out during the week, but the other lot has "No Parking" signs and a chain over one entrance - this lot is exempt from property taxes because they don't make money on the lot.

Photo of Jonathon Barkl
Team

Hi Laura,

Thank you for your great questions!

We added an option by which churches can also register members that will be using the parking lot manually online and avoid the texting system. This was built in for exactly the situation that you mentioned since many members of the congregations that we work with are older and not comfortable with technology.

Regarding taxes, churches are allowed to collect revenue on various "Unrelated Business Income." Depending on the scenario that income may be taxable or not, but it does not affect the overall tax status of the organization as a 501(c)(3).

You can read more about the subject in IRS Publication 1828 here https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1828.pdf. Specifically, on page 20 of the document, it discusses parking lots and the income generated. Basically, if the church runs a parking lot then the fees paid by members of the general public are generally considered taxable income. If the church goes through a third party to lease out their parking lot, the income may be tax exempt and considered rent from real property.

Thanks again! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Photo of Laura Muresan
Team

Thanks for the info! If you end up taking this to Grand Rapids, I hope my church will give it a try.

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