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AirGarage achieves lift off

The ASU-based startup billed as the 'Airbnb of parking' gains traction

barkl and fitsimones.jpeg

Jonathon Barkl and Scott Fitsimones posed for a photo on ASU's Tempe campus when their startup was getting off the ground last spring.

AirGarage has had a busy summer. 

Since fully operationalizing their garage-share service earlier this year, AirGarage drummed up 22 members who've together amassed about $20,000.

"We have over 220 places to park," Scott Fitsimones, a co-founder of AirGarage, said. "We honestly didn't think we'd get that many spots this quickly."

The company concentrates its efforts around ASU's Tempe campus, but it plans to expand soon. 

"We're trying to focus on ASU right now, but for example we got a spot that was randomly listed in Long Beach, California," Fitsimones said. "We weren't exactly sure why the person listed it, but we were like 'OK, maybe this could be good'."

AirGarage members have also listed spots in San Francisco as well as Tucson, despite the company's fixed gaze on Tempe.

"I wish I could remember the exact number, but I think it's like we've sold 14,000 days of parking," Fitsimones said.

The team at AirGarage has retooled their goals as the company has grown.

"We're discovering the value of short term parking," Fitsimones said. "Our initial goal was ... to build a platform for parking for a semester. But we've seen a lot of people book our spots for like a couple days just to move their stuff in, or just book a spot to have a spot for a week before move in."

Part of AirGarage's success stems from an unlikely source: cooperation from ASU, despite AirGarage siphoning revenue from University parking structures.  

"Parking is a national problem in this country," Jonathon Barkl, Air Garage's other co-founder, said. "We simply do not have enough land space, and it's not really worth a university's time to be developing that land space into parking garages. For example at ASU, ASU could spend 30 million dollars building a parking garage, or they could spend 30 million dollars building a science building like ISTB4."

ASU stands to gain more from government grants than it does from parking fees, making construction of garages more of a bane than a boon.

"When we started, we were expecting ASU to just in general be very against what we were doing," Barkl said. "We figured we were taking away business from ASU parking and transit, they're going to see this and they're going to say, 'we need to shut this down'."

Fortunately for Air Garage, that was not the case. ASU welcomed the startup with open arms rather than clenched fists. As a result, Tempe became fertile ground for the company's growth, partly due to Air Garage's ties with Venture Devils.

"Venture Devils is meant to be basically a developmental league for ASU startups," Brent Sebold, the program's director, said.

Venture Devils assesses startups and determines what sort of aid would best benefit each one. Sebold said he saw high potential for AirGarage, which drove the extensive collaboration between the two groups.

"(Air Garage) was developed very intentionally last year, and they were very successful," Sebold said. "This year we hope that they'll continue that trajectory, but they're still wrestling with a lot of very tough questions pertaining to will AirGarage really be adopted by the marketplace?"

Reach the reporter at or follow @deadrick_sam on Twitter. 

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