I was tired of getting towed, so I created a smarter way to park

I arrived at Chicago’s WeWork Fulton Market this morning at 3:30 AM. I swiped my digital key card to get into the building, walked up the stairs to my two-person office on the third floor, and worked peacefully until the rest of my nine-person team arrived at 8:30 AM.

I moved to Chicago from Mumbai, India in 1997 and fell in love with the city from day one. I found everything I needed in Chicago—my wife, an apartment in River North, and a multitude of restaurants in which I’m now considered a regular. Well, I found almost everything—except for parking spots I could actually park in.

Vivek Mehra

We all know that feeling of circling a neighborhood looking for parking. It’s painful. So instead of finding public parking spots, I would try to save time and gas by parking in private parking spots. You can only imagine how many times I received a parking ticket or got my car towed.

I was sick and tired of circling around looking for parking. (And I was even more sick and tired of all the parking tickets and getting towed.) There were all these private parking spots that weren’t being used, but nobody could park in them—for no particular reason. There had to be a better, smarter way to park.

That’s why I created ParqEx, an on-demand parking technology company that connects people who own private parking spots to people looking for parking. Think of ParqEx as the Airbnb of parking, in that businesses, nonprofits, condo buildings, and individuals with a private parking space can rent out their spots whenever they’re available. We allow for private parking owners to make some supplemental revenue off an underutilized asset, while helping the community by opening up more parking options.

I started ParqEx in 2014 as the sole founder. After working out of local Starbucks lounges and Mariano’s dining areas, I realized that if I ever wanted to expand the business, I would need a bigger, more convenient space. I wanted to work somewhere that could foster growth—a place where entrepreneurs like myself could mingle and bounce ideas off one another. WeWork was a no-brainer for me and provided everything I desired with the flexibility I needed.

I started working at the WeWork River North location in June 2015, and then became one of the first to work out of the Fulton Market space in Chicago’s West Loop. WeWork has not only provided us with an energetic, modern space, but has fostered a community environment that is second to none. The WeWork team does an outstanding job of connecting its members through their online portal, community events, and email marketing. It’s been easy for us to gain valuable connections and friends through WeWork.

In fact, the River North space is where I met Matt Schaefer, our chief operating officer. Working as an independent consultant at the time, he was intrigued by the ParqEx business model and mission and joined us full time in August 2016.

ParqEx has grown tremendously during our time at WeWork. We announced a $1.3 million funding round in December 2016, and have been featured in highly regarded publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, and Chicagoist. We have over 12,500 active users on our platform and have gotten over 2,500 parking spot listings to date.

This month, we officially launched in two new markets—Milwaukee and Madison—and we can’t thank WeWork enough for helping us get to where we are now. I only wish there was a WeWork in Milwaukee and Madison.

Finding a workspace for a startup company isn’t always easy. There are a lot of components you look for—from the quality of the space, to atmosphere of the environment, to amenities provided. Through WeWork, we’re able to host community happy hours, have access to a network of 90,000 global members, and are invited to exclusive networking events every month to mingle with other entrepreneurial companies and forward thinkers.

WeWork will always be home to us, and we look forward to continuing our positive relationship as we continue to work to solve the urban parking challenge. But we need you to get involved. Help your community by renting out your parking spot when it’s available—and make some extra money while you’re at it!

Interested in workspace? Get in touch.