Microsoft is proud to be launching our third year of Civic Tech focus at MassChallenge with the Civic Tech Scholarship. The scholarship recognizes 5 startups as they enter the MassChallenge accelerator with a cash grant to help them grow their businesses. Microsoft’s Civic Tech Scholarship aims to identify startups helping elected officials deliver improved services to citizens, increasing communication with residents and enhancing government effectiveness. The ultimate goal is to identify solutions that foster citizen engagement and transparency between government and constituents. This blog post highlights the work of one of the 2016 Civic Tech scholarship recipients.
— Aimee Sprung
Finding and understanding complex systems, and making simple products that deliver truly novel solutions to problems, has always excited me. The sustainability of our society relies on innovations that continue to build upon each other until they bring us something that provides us with the most precious thing of all, time. This is what drives me to build solutions that impact our lives.
The universal “parking problem” is where I’m focused now. It can and will be solved, but first we need to build a platform. That platform is Fetch Park™.
The Fetch Park system™ finds parking for drivers at the touch of a button. You can think of us as the Uber and EZ-Pass for parking, minus the need for an RFID transponder. We also provide parking facility managers with an innovative management dashboard that delivers information about the available capacity in their facilities, and thereby provides opportunities for them to make more profits both from their current capacity as well as any empty spaces.
My journey to improve the lives of others through innovation began after business school at Aquinas College. Interested in creating an entrepreneurial venture, I actually built a minor Pedicab empire, which I later franchised and sold.
The idea of Fetch Park™ was born while I was working on the Pedicab bike, peddling people around town. In the first months of operation, I worked 9AM to 4am because I didn’t know any better. However, as time went on, I learned how a city breathes throughout the day. I could predict exactly when people were going to be rushing out of an event, going to dinner, or ready to spend money on experiences. It was my business to know and understand these patterns, and so, inevitably, with this data in hand, our teams outperformed the competition.
Fetch Park™ started because I wanted to replicate my ability to predict the consumer demand trends of my Pedicab business. The idea of Fetch Park became even more compelling when everyone I spoke to had a parking horror story. And that’s because there is no platform for parking to connect the customer to the elusive end goal – an available space near their destination. In fact, an Global Parking Survey showed that drivers waste an average of 5 days each year searching for parking! That’s 20 minutes of every day we all deserve back. Yes, parking is a segmented market, but it has steady growth regardless of external factors. Maybe this is why it’s slow to change? As a driver, I want a frictionless parking experience with no tickets to have to keep track of, and eventually no gates to have to go through. More importantly, I want my 20 minutes a day back! I hope you do too. So, the next time you’re looking for parking remember; Fetch marks the spot.™