Seattle is starting to attract San Francisco-style convenience ventures.
In addition to upscale dial-a-ride and meal-delivery ventures, Seattle now has an on-demand parking valet service. It’s initially targeting tech workers in the Amazon.com jungle but plans to expand its service area soon.
Zirx, a San Francisco startup that lets people order a parking valet with their smartphone, quietly began operating a few weeks ago in South Lake Union.
For $15 a day — including taxes and tip — Zirx will collect cars and park them at a nearby parking garage. The cars can be summoned via an app that runs on Apple and Google mobile devices.
That’s competitive with on-street parking, if you can find a spot that isn’t full or reserved half the day for food trucks. Under Seattle’s latest scheme to confuse, repel and gouge drivers, metered parking in SLU is increasing to $2 per hour and may move to variable pricing in 2015.
Zirx is one of several parking valet services operating in San Francisco. The company started six months ago and began service there three months ago. The four founders came from Adap.TV, a video advertising startup sold to AOL last year. After raising $6.2 million from investors, it now has 15 employees and hopes to eventually go global.
“Seattle is just a natural progression for us,” said Shmulik Fishman, co-founder and vice president of operations. “It has a very similar type of community in terms of a tech theme and a lot of daily commuters. There was problem to solve and we wanted to solve it.”
In Seattle, Zirx is starting out with a limited operating area and weekday-only service. For now it’s available only in South Lake Union in an area bordered by Highway 99, Interstate 5, Valley Street and Denny Way. Fishman said it should expand hours and start serving the downtown core within 30 days.
Zirx claims to have $2 million worth of insurance coverage and uses enclosed, high-security parking facilities. It has a team of contracted parking “agents” to collect and deliver cars.
The company tries to have its valets arrive within five to seven minutes of a request. That will be a challenge in SLU, where it can take five minutes to travel a few blocks through the sprawling Mercer Mess.
Here is the Zirx service area in Seattle: