The parking wars are heating up among startups that want to serve as your valet and parking attendant.
Even if we give up driving in favor of ride-hailing services like Uber or Lyft, or we switch to self-driving cars someday, there’s one thing we’ll still definitely need: parking.
San Francisco-based Zirx, is looking to help with its on-demand valet parking service. Like competitors Luxe Valet, Vatler, ValetAnywhere, Zirx lets customers use a mobile app to summon a valet to meet them at a specific location. Once there, drivers turn over their car and later use the app to summon it back when they’re ready. Essentially, it puts a valet stand anywhere they want to avoid dealing with parking themselves.
On Wednesday, Zirx, which is available in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington D.C, said that it had raised $30 million in new funding. With its new investment, Zirx plans to continue expanding to other cities as well as by bolstering its operations where it’s already available.
On the price front, Zirx and number-one rival Luxe are neck and neck, both charging about $15 per day. Zirx customers can pay for valet service on a per-use basis or they can buy a monthly pass for unlimited parking, which includes overnight parking.
With parking quickly becoming a big battle ground, mobile valet services will have to prove to drivers that they’re truly more convenient than street parking or pulling into a paid lot themselves. Two main niches are emerging in the space: on-demand valets like Zirx, Luxe Valet, and mobile services like SpotHero and ParkWhiz for booking parking spots in advance.
For SpotHero and ParkWhiz, which let their customers spontaneously book a parking spot at a partner garage or parking lot, it’s all about inventory. The more partner garages and parking lots in their systems, the more options and better pricing they can offer their customers. And for many drivers, parking their car on their own in a garage a few steps from their lunch meeting or doctor’s appointment — at a good price, of course — is just as convenient as having a valet. Drivers can avoid the uncertainty and wasted time of driving around the block to look for parking.
For these companies, acquisitions like SpotHero’s recent purchase of rival ParkPlease in San Francisco, can help increase inventory. However, Zirx co-founded and CEO Sean Behr told Fortune that an acquisition spree is not in the cards right now.
So then how do valet companies like Zirx compete, and more importantly, justify their labor costs? The answer is additional services, like oil changes, car washes, and gassing up, that Zirx offers as an option to customers.
Zirx has been offering these as part of a secret menu, and Behr said that his company has carried out 3,000 additional services to date. This week, the company is finally introducing a formal version, called Zirx Care, in all of the cities where it operates.
But of course, Zirx’s rivals like Luxe, which announced $20 million in new funding last month, also offers such services to its customers, making it difficult to declare a winner yet.
Bessemer Venture Partners led Zirx’s latest round, with additional participation from existing investors Norwest Venture Partners and Trinity Ventures, among others. This latest funding brings the company’s total to $36.4 million. Behr cofounded the San Francisco-based company last year with Shmulik Fishman, Boris Zamoruev, Boris Perlov.
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