Parking Seemed Like Such a Great Idea. It Wasn’t

By Ellen Huet and Jing Cao : bloomberg

Zirx and Luxe are shifting away from the on-demand model

Venture capital firms bet tens of millions of dollars that startups offering affordable valet parking to harried urbanites would flourish in the on-demand economy pioneered by Uber.

Parking valets working for companies with names like Luxe, Zirx and Valet Anywhere became a common sight in the congested precincts of San Francisco, Chicago, New York and other U.S. cities. With a few taps on a phone, customers could summon a valet and avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot and then squeezing into it. Once they’d finished shopping, dining or taking a meeting, the valet would drive up with the vehicle.

Turns out it’s hard to make money parking cars. Two startups (Caarbon and Vatler) quickly imploded and three more (Luxe, Zirx and Valet Anwyhere) are shifting away from the on-demand model. Their retreat is a cautionary tale for scores of startups flogging instant gratification to people who, on the spur of the moment, want their cocktails mixed, laundry folded and bodies massaged….(more)