Shelby Clark, the Founder and Chief Community Officer, of the revolutionary peer-to-peer car sharing network RelayRides has announced he is stepping down from his role at the company. He will remain on the Board of Directors for RelayRides though. Mr.Clark sent out this Tweet on his Twitter feed yesterday;
4+ yrs after founding @relayrides, Im moving on to start my next company! Staying involved on BOD. Inspired for the next startup
For those that don't know RelayRides allows people to rent out their personal vehicles to individuals. To some this might sound a bit crazy, but for those follow this blog you might remember that I wrote about Relay Rides opening up the service nationally. From what Shelby Clark told me he and others enjoyed using RelayRides and it has benefited many people who don't have easy access to cars. They are other services like ZipCar but you need to drop off and pick-up those cars at specific locations while with RelayRides a neighbor can rent you their personal vehicle.
I have not heard what Shelby Clark's next plans are but I am sure whatever he does he will do great considering his success at RelayRides.
Probably the best thing I have written about on this blog was my road trip from Irvine, CA to back to Baltimore. It was an amazing trip and I hope to do many more road trips and a cross-country road trip again soon.
You know, I started this blog and didn't have set high hopes for my writing but look at me now! I am a full time auto journalist and blogger. I was able to go from writing as a hobby to writing about cars professionally.
Looking back at my first post, and some of my early writing such as this Top Gear editorial my writing has come a long way and fast. I am fortunate to be able to be doing something creative and love what I am doing.
I feel proud of everything I have been accomplished with this blog and other writing I have done.
As well sharing my experience when I appeared on Anderson with Anderson Cooper for the TV show's New Year's Special. I performed “Auld Lange Syne” with my singing dogs, Cody and Sierra, which was an amazing experience which I shared on this blog. (Of course it had nothing to do with cars, but I did drive up to New York-City with my dogs.)
I am glad to have had all these interesting and varied experiences. I hope to share more auto news, advice, tips & tricks, product reviews, with everyone via Adam's Auto Advice. I know I will continue to grow and experience more amazing automotive experiences in the future.
I also appreciate all the people with a shared passion for cars I have meet along my journey. We have exchanged web advice, writing tips, and personal stories of “Auto Awesomeness!”
Someone who deserves credit for my blog is my brother Jason. He helped me get this blog up and running and switch from Blogger to WordPress. He's also helped keep this blog going and updated. Thanks Jason!
I certainly have not crossed everything off on my automotive bucket list. I know I have a lot more great experiences ahead of me.
This is actually my 200th post! I didn't plan that, but it is a happy coincidence. There will be hundreds of more great articles and posts along the way. I am going to make an effort to post more and most likely shorter articles in the future.
I hope all of you continue to follow my writing and work. Please Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest to keep updated.
I look forwarding to writing about cars and on this blog for many more years.
RelayRides, the world's first peer-to-peer car sharing service, is breaking out of San Francisco and Boston and is launching nationwide today. “Anybody in the country will be able to enroll their car and rent [out] their cars right away,” says Shelby Clark, the company’s founder and Chief Community Officer. RelayRides introduces us to the revolutionary concept of neighbors renting out their cars to fellow neighbors. A renter can get a car for as little as $5 an hour.
What are the benefits of personal car sharing? It is “more affordable, more accessible, and more efficient,” according to Clark. The average shared car “takes 14 other cars off the road,” thus allowing people to meet their mobility needs using far fewer cars. Clark explained. It is “really good for the environment, community, and local economy.”
RelayRides makes a lot of sense financially in this down economy and in general. Car owners should think of it this way: That car you drive only a few days a week can make you some money when you aren’t using it. On average a car owner using RelayRides can earn $200-$250 a month. (That’s $2,400-$3,000 dollars a year!) Clark personally makes around $400 a month renting out his Yellow Mini Convertible, which he told me is a lot of fun on sunny San Francisco days.
Renters who take part in RelayRides reap benefits as well. “Car sharing is a more attractive alternative to car ownership,” said Clark. On average a person can save $500 a month not owning a car and taking part in car sharing. “It is really convenient and affordable. The car is located right in your neighborhood,” said Clark.
The personal car sharing concept might be hard for some people to understand. When Clark initially pitched the idea to friends he faced a bit of resistance. “People were polite and raised their eyebrows, “So you want a stranger to drive my car?” Clark emphasized the difference in opinion now, “The typical reaction I get from people now when I tell them about RelayRides for the first time is, “Huh, that makes a lot of sense!”
RelayRides currently has 200 cars in the two city fleet and 6000 members. By launching this innovative service nationwide, Clark expects these numbers to grow significantly. “We have learned a lot over the past two years of operation. We feel ready to bring this to the masses,” he told me.
There is a lot of room for growth. According to Clark there are only about 1 million car-sharing members in North America. With 260 million cars on the road, that equals around 1.2 cars per person in the US. Shelby thinks this is incredibly wasteful. He believes that personal car sharing is an ideal solution. Besides, most cars are only used about 8% percent of the time; the rest of the time they are just parked.
RelayRides is covered by a $1 million insurance policy and market-leading security safeguards. It is backed by over $13M in venture capital funding from leading investors, such as Google Ventures and GM Ventures.
What impressed me while talking with Clark was not only his enthusiasm, optimism, and drive to make car sharing a viable option for everyone, but his attitude toward the competition. I thought other car sharing services might be unnerved by the news of RelayRides going national. However, Clark sees car sharing companies as being in this together, working for the greater good. He feels there is room for more than one company and that collaboration could be helpful to everyone.
This is a “big step forward for car sharing,” Clark told me. I think it certainly is and the future looks bright for RelayRides.
Adam: Is there a demographic you are trying to target?
Nick Miller: The thing is that it is parking space as opposed to Airbnb, which is apartments, makes it more broad and widespread. So anyone can use it. Early on we are targeting sports fans. You can use this at the Ravens Game. I went to a Ravens game on Sunday and I used the service to get a parking spot by the Ravens Game. If I come back, I will do it again. If you have repeat users you have the potential for them to tell their friends and stuff like that. As we move into commuters, it becomes a more broad set of people. So it starts from hardcore fans and grows out from there.
A: I actually went to a concert at Rams Head Live the other night. One of my friends is a Bass Player. I went to the show with another friend and his car got towed. I was like “Oh S#$*! I should have used ParkingPanda!”
NM: Free parking is great, and it can be free or really cheap but you risk getting towed or ticketed. Particularly if you don't know the law. If it is 2 hour parking, in DC that what it is like. When I was down there for school, there is street parking but it's all only 1-2 hour parking. It is enforced strictly there. At the same time there are a lot of townhouses there and driveways and stuff like that and the people who live in them actually have permits to park on the streets. So they can park on the street for as long as they want and leave their driveways open to rent to you. So you don't need to deal with the trouble of the ticket or towing. They don't tow the cars down there, they boot the cars down there. So you just can't move it!
A: There are some other parking websites that are kind of similar but they are focused mainly on garages. Do you see yourself competing with them or are you offering a different thing?
NM: There are things like Craigslist, but there are a couple of sites like Parkwize. It will let you reserve in a garage before you ever go out. In some ways we think what we are offering is different. They offer you the ability to reserve a space and know exactly where you are going. We also offer the ability to save you money and to avoid the traffic associated with the garage or the parking lot, and the idea it is peer-to-peer so you are supporting your community. Someone can be renting you driveway when you are renting someone else's. So it is like back and forth community.
A: Do you see ParkingPanda really catching on? Maybe become like… Zipcar or something like that?
NM: We hope so! We think there is a big enough market and a big enough need for it. If you look around lately the sort of peer-to-peer community model, a company like Airbnb where you are renting out someone's room in their apartment as a hotel, that company is now worth over a billion dollars!
A: Oh wow! I did not know that!
NM: Then there are the car sharing services like ZipCar and RelayRides, where you are renting your neighbor's car. Those are catching on and starting to do really well, so right now is a great time. People really see the value of earning a little extra cash with their assets and with helping out the community in general. If people are willing to let you share their car, I feel like there are people who are certainly willing to let you use their driveway. You have to be confident in letting someone get behind the wheel of your car, but your driveway…there is a pretty low barrier to entry there.
A: You need to trust someone to use Airbnb, for staying at your place. I personally have never used Airbnb, but I have used Couchsurfing before. I am sure you have heard of that!
NM: I have Couchsurfed myself as well.
A: I actually told my mom about ParkingPanda and she was like, “We should use that!”
NM: That person may not be willing to Couchsurf, but your driveway is so much easier.
A: So you used to work for LivingSocial? Can you tell me about that?
NM: Back when I was in Georgetown I started at LivingSocial as an intern one summer, and I started there when it was about 15 people. It was still a Facebook application developer. I was there during the shift of developing Facebook applications into the local commerce and group deal space. They were already working toward the local commerce space, but I was there when the company grew very quickly. When I graduated from Georgetown, I almost stayed but I was planning on going to Grad School in NY. I left to go to grad school in NY, I ended up deciding I did not like the program I was going to go to, so I went to work for another start-up in NY.
A: What was the company?
NM: That was called GroupCommerce.
A: What do they do?
NM: They are similar to LivingSocial as they are in group commerce and local deal space. They are not consumer focused like LivingSocial is. They provide the technology for newspapers and publishers. For example the New-York Times has a group deal program, and GroupCommerce provides the infrastructure to support that. So I worked for them to develop that structure, then left to start ParkingPanda.
A recent Baltimore-based start-up called ParkingPanda.com, run by Nick Miller and Adam Zilberbaum, has definitely piqued my interest. Why? Because they aim to revolutionize parking as we know it.
The idea is simple. You need a space in Downtown Baltimore, say for a Ravens or Orioles game. You don't want to spend 30+ minutes driving around aimlessly looking for parking. So you log onto ParkingPanda and find someone who might have a parking space downtown, but is away for a few days or just might not need it. They rent out their parking space to you, for less than what it would cost to park in a garage. That person makes a little cash on a personal parking space they otherwise would have not been using and you get to find parking quickly and cheaply! It's great for all parties involved!
Nick Miller is the Co-Founder and CEO of ParkingPanda. Like most great internet ideas, the company was conceived during his college days in our nation's capitol, “I went to Georgetown. I was living in DC and I didn't really need a car. So I was sitting there with an empty driveway and I wasn't doing anything with it.” Then he had the challenging experience of trying to find parking. “After I had moved out I was up here [Baltimore] at a Raven's game and there was a guy standing there with a cardboard sign that was like, “Park Here $15 bucks” over at Federal Hill, way cheaper and way faster to do that, so I parked in the driveway.” This got Nick thinking, “Why can't I just put this guy's driveway online, and not drive around and hand this guy some cash! So it was actually having experienced both sides of it. It made it apparent this needed to be done.”
This led Nick to take part in Startup Weekend Baltimore, an intense 54-hour technology competition where teams build a website or application over the course of a weekend. Nick met Adam [Zilberbaum] and told him about his wild idea for a peer-to-peer online parking community. The two hit it off and spent the weekend developing the idea. Needless to say, ParkingPanda won the competition! For winning they received the necessary funds to incorporate ParkingPanda. Once incorporated, the company got additional money which led into marketing and building up the website.
Then the dynamic duo spent the summer in a tech accelerator in New York City. This gave them three months of office space in Times Square and the chance to make connections with well-known entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. They also got $25,000 in seed money. The culmination of the tech accelerator was giving a pitch to all the companies involved, and to potential investors.
The company launched at the Inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix. “The first weekend at the Grand Prix we booked about 117 spaces over the course of the weekend.” says Nick. Not bad for a first weekend.
Currently ParkingPanda operates exclusively in Baltimore, but they hope to expand. “We will be in DC soon,” Nick says, “We will probably roll out to DC in 2 months or less.” ParkingPanda has big aspirations for getting into other cities and markets as well. “After DC we will go to Philadelphia, Then we will expand more: Boston, Chicago, San Francisco.”
Even with big aspirations and hopes, the duo want to get the formula right. “We will focus on close markets first [Baltimore, DC, and Philly], because it is a great way to optimize what works, what doesn't. We can refine what we are doing.” says Nick.
During my conversation with Nick, we drew comparisons to Airbnb, a website where you can rent out rooms from people, Couchsurfing a similar service but free, and RelayRides a website that enables you to rent a neighbor's car. “People really see the value of earning a little extra cash with their assets and with helping out the community in general. If people are willing to let you share their car, I feel like there are people who are certainly willing to let you use their driveway. You have to be confident in letting someone get behind the wheel of your car, but your driveway… there is a pretty low barrier to entry there.” says Nick.
We also discussed other parking websites, which enable you to reserve spaces in a garage or parking lot in advance. Nick pointed out the advantages of ParkingPanda. “They offer you the ability to reserve a space and know exactly where you are going. We also offer the ability to save you money and to avoid the traffic associated with the garage or the parking lot, and the idea is it is peer-to-peer so you are supporting your community. Someone can be renting your driveway when you are renting someone else's.”
ParkingPanda is such an intriguing idea, I actually signed up to use the website. In the future I will definitely look for parking through the Panda! I might even list my parking space during Hopkins lacrosse games, due to limited parking in the area when games occur. I see people driving up and down our street looking for parking all the time. You can find free street parking but as Nick points out, “You risk getting towed or ticketed. Particularly if you don't know the law.” The advantage to using a service like ParkingPanda, is that you don't need to worry about that.
Nick lays out ParkingPanda like this, “You can sit down with someone and in two minutes they know what we are doing. It is not some crazy ad-technology, where two months later they are like, What are you talking about? How does it work? This is a community marketplace for parking. We want people to share their parking spaces with one another. It's straightforward!”
Want to know more about ParkingPanda? Read my interview with Nick Miller, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.