The Bangalore startup helps users discover parking spaces, while land owners get a platform to list their vacant spaces and rent them out for parking
A few years ago, when I was working for a company located in the heart of Bangalore, I borrowed a colleague’s two wheeler to go out and buy something. The road traffic was so messy that even the pavement was filled with two wheelers. So I had no option but to park the bike in a vacant space I saw on the roadside.
When I returned from the shop, I found to my horror that my vehicle was ‘stolen’. When enquired, a nearby shop keeper told me that the bike was towed away by the city traffic police for parking it in a ‘no parking’ zone. I rushed to the police station and had to pay fines to get the vehicle back.
This is not a one-off incident and it is a common scene in Bangalore. Hundreds of vehicles can be seen taken away by the traffic departments on a daily basis for illegal parking.
“Congestion is a big challenge in all the growing cities and if you look at Bangalore, it is already a gridlock. It is not easy to drive in the city and equally hard in finding a parking space for vehicles. There are too many unorganised and illegal parking that has eaten up the infrastructure, leading to ‘no space’ available on roads,” Arjun Jairaj, who aims to address this problem, tells me.
Thus he started Plonk, a parking solutions startup, along with his brother Balram Jairaj and co-founder John Seemon, in 2015.
Plonk is a real-time parking app that helps users discover parking spaces. At the same time, land owners get a platform to list their vacant spaces and rent them out for parking.
The brothers study in the US. Balram lived in the outskirts of Boston and had owned a car. So it was was fairly easy for him to drive anywhere and find parking, says Jairaj.
“Even in the heart of the city, he could find parking, but it came at a lofty price. When we both returned to India, we found ourselves unable to move around as freely as in the US,” he adds.
“Parking was a crutch that was preventing us from making the most of the social, commercial and cultural life that our city had to offer. Around the time we started discussing the problem, we met John (Seemon) through a mutual friend. He brought with him years of IT experience and so we got together and Plonk was born,” he goes on.
Park your worries
Plonk is basically a visual indicator of the available parking spaces nearby. One can use the app to find a parking spot that fits his/her needs.
One can download the app and register using his/her Facebook or email ID. He can then search for a parking space around a specific location by typing in it in the search bar, or by viewing all the available spaces around his/her current GPS location on a map. There is a price slider on the screen that allows users to filter parking space based on the fee. Payments can be made on the app via cash or card.
As of now, the services are available only in Bangalore. While it is getting enquiries from various cities like Delhi and Hyderabad, the startup has no plans to expand into other cities, at least for the next six-eight months.
The app is a boon to the land owners too, claims Jairaj. “Plonk recognises that the solution to traffic congestion and inadequate parking facilities is a multi-dimensional issues and it requires the collective effort of the entire community. So by inviting house owners, land owners or corporates to list their empty spaces for parking, we can make huge differences. Plonk offers users a useful service and land owners a novel business offering, thereby contributing to the decongestion of the city,” he explains.
As of today, Plonk has a listing of more than 1,000 spaces in Bangalore, of which 33 are commercial buildings that include Du Parc Trinity, Vaishnavi Residency, Safina Plaza, HM Vibha Towers, Utility Building, and Deccan Enterprises.
The startup takes a 10 per cent commission from the parking fee paid by the user, and the remaining amount goes to the land owner.
Bootstrapped till date, the startup will look to raise funds later when the firm expands to multiple cities.
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