THE founder and managing director of Parkme.ie, Liam Farrell, spotted a gap in the market while home for Christmas in 2011.
His firm has over 800 spaces around Dublin registered on its website and offers additional income to people who have an unused parking space.
He has extensive experience in teaching, having among other accomplishments set up an English teaching institute in Argentina in 2010
With an educational background in economics, and having obtained his Masters in Boston University in 2005, Farrell is now also the managing director of his firm, and plans to continue expanding Parkme.ie.
How long have you been in business?
We have been in business for almost two years now.
What makes your business successful?
Our business is successful because it benefits all of our users. Members are either making or saving money where they did not before. Space owners are creating income from their parking space or driveway and drivers are saving money on their parking costs.
What do you offer your clients that differs from your competitors?
Our main competitors are advertising sites like Gumtree. However, these sites can be used to advertise a wide range of products and services.
There is no competitor in Ireland whose sole focus is advertising and renting parking spaces.
We do not just advertise the space; drivers can book the space online with a debit or credit card. This removes the possibility of numerous phone calls from interested parties or showing the space over and over again.
They can just put the space up and wait for bookings to come in and then get paid straight into their bank account.
How has the recession affected your business?
While we did not exist before the recession, it certainly had both positive and negative effects for this kind of service. Homeowners are now looking for innovative ways to earn money so the recession helped our business model in that sense.
On the other hand, drivers would now have less disposable income.
This works both ways for us in that drivers want to use our service to get cheaper parking but some drivers can no longer afford to pay for parking at all.
What law or regulation would you change overnight to help your business?
Some of our users are concerned about the income tax payable on money earned on Parkme.ie. We suggest that they consult their financial adviser on this. We would like to see the rent-a-room scheme expanded to include driveways or parking spaces. Homeowners may earn up to €10,000 tax free by renting out their bedrooms to others. We see no reason why this should not include your parking space.
What is your ambition for the business?
I am very happy with how the business is progressing at this stage. We have new companies contacting us every week in need of extra parking spaces for their new offices.
We are currently making improvements to the site and we are in the process of adding some multi-storey car parks to the system. We aim to become a booking platform not just for individual home owners, but also for larger commercial car parks. We are also planning on increasing the number of spaces in other cities in Ireland and the UK.