China-based valet parking app Ubo raises $900,000 in funding from HGDS Capital as it aims to solve Beijing’s growing car parking issues.
Catering to increasing car ownership in China’s capital, users simply download the iOS or Android app and drive their vehicle to a convenient Ubo service station, where they are then driven to their desired destination by an Ubo valet, who will park the car safely until it is needed again.
Once the car has been parked in one of Ubo’s 500 exclusive spots around the city, the app will immediately notify the user, sending them pictures of the parked car and recorded mileage. To ensure transparency, every valet is equipped with a GoPro-like camera and smartphone, so that Ubo’s entire process — from when they enter the car to when they park it and retrieve it — is recorded. The app’s geo-location features enable car owners to simply tap their phone when they require the car again, and one of Ubo’s certified valets will drive it to them directly.
The successful second round of funding, which was led by HGDS Capital, will be used to expand Ubo’s operations to cover Beijing’s entire downtown area, including all hospitals and airports that service the city. Available for free download via the App Store, Ubo’s simple yet effective app is already saving valuable time for Beijing’s driver population that deals dealing with the reality of too many cars and not enough car parking spaces.
“The amount of time trying to find car parking in a city like Beijing can drain away precious hours during the day, whether you are going to work, a dinner appointment, or even worse, hospitals. Ubo’s personalized service completely removes this factor from the user’s day,” says Ubo’s Chief Experience Officer, Corrine ZHAO. “With all our valets professionally trained and fully insured, Ubo’s app instantly connects users with a trusted, real-time parking solution, saving them both time and stress.”
Led by its motto “Wait less live more,” Ubo currently has hundreds of parking spots throughout Beijing, and it aims to sign more contracts with under-used parking lots in different areas to secure low-cost spaces. By working with this model, the service offers a flat $3 fee for the valet service, and $1-$2 per hour for the parking space. Users also have the option to pay a $150 flat fee for a monthly plan.
Unlike other companies in China that offer similar services, Ubo’s valets wear body cameras and operate on a citywide basis. Additionally, the app’s integration with the country’s most popular messaging service, WeChat, allows desperate driver to get helped by simply scanning a QR code, instead of downloading a 10MB app on the street. (Like a HTML5 web app).
According to the China News Network, in 2014 Beijing was reported to have 5.48 million active vehicles trying to fill only 2.76 million registered car parking spaces around the city.
“This is a massive gap between parking spaces and cars in Beijing. To compound this issue, the usage of legal parking spaces in the city is around 35% to 50%, which means they are empty more than 50% of the time,” adds ZHAO. “Ubo solves this problem by giving our users direct parking services in some of Beijing’s most heavily trafficked areas, making sure every space is filled efficiently.”