UMN student’s startup helps address parking problems

The company ParkPoolr allows users to earn money by renting out their parking spaces online.

The app Parkpoolr founders are conduct a test run during an event at Allianz Field on Saturday, May 4. The founders hope to expand the company to other events like the Minnesota State Fair or during Gopher football games.

Chris McNamara

The app Parkpoolr founders are conduct a test run during an event at Allianz Field on Saturday, May 4. The founders hope to expand the company to other events like the Minnesota State Fair or during Gopher football games.

Miguel Octavio

A University of Minnesota student recently helped launched a website aimed at alleviating parking shortages at big events. 

ParkPoolr allows renters, homeowners and business owners to host their parking spaces online and charge users a fee to fill them. Co-founder and third-year Carlson School of Management student Jackson Lefebvre helped launch the company in mid-April. A test run is currently being conducted around the recently opened Allianz Field. 

“I learned in my classes that the best way to build a company is to find a problem and try to build your company around fixing that problem,” Lefebvre said. “I realized parking is an issue and we can use a similar model like Airbnb, but only for parking.”

Lefebvre had the idea after noticing a number of private lots being monetized during Gopher football games at TCF Bank Stadium. 

“I figured … we could maybe add a little technology into this and create a platform where everyone who has extra parking spaces around … large venues can list their spots and earn extra money,” Lefebvre said. 

Allianz Field holds nearly 20,000 people, but Lefebvre said the number of parking spaces around the vicinity doesn’t match the stadium’s capacity. Lefebvre said he hopes ParkPoolr’s business model can mitigate high parking costs from garages and lots on-site. 

Hosts provide details about the location and a picture of their parking space online. Users may then choose from a range of listings available. Information about the drivers and their vehicles are sent to the host for verification.

Lefebvre works on-call to answer any questions or handle potential disputes. He said he’s developing ways to improve parking descriptions to avoid any errors.

Prices are set based on the host’s preferences, but typically range between $15 to $25 per day. ParkPoolr co-founders handle all payments and charge a small processing fee from each reservation. 

Since ParkPoolr’s launch, up to 50 spaces are typically available for users each game. Between the first and third game of the Minnesota United soccer season, Lefebvre said the number of users jumped from two to 47.  

Co-founder Landon Butterworth said a number of developments including a ParkPoolr app are in the works. Both founders hope to expand the company to other crowded events like the Minnesota State Fair and Gophers football games, which Lefebvre said could be a hit for students living near campus. 

“Expanding to other events in Minnesota is an exciting prospect. We had a unique opportunity with Allianz Field and it’s going to be a learning experience trying to figure out how to make ParkPoolr work in places where there are more established players,” Butterworth said in an emailed statement.

Jeremy Niemann, a resident who lives nearby Allianz Field, hosts two parking spots on his property using ParkPoolr. He said he expects the business to grow in his neighborhood.

“I hope my neighbors are able to take advantage of it,” Niemann said. “It’s a good way to make money and I think quite a few people will have similar situations in mind.”