Curtis Lee first got the idea for his valet parking app, Luxe, while he was running late for a dinner reservation looking for a parking spot in San Francisco — a city notorious for its lack of parking.
Lee and his then-girlfriend (now-wife) circled the block for half an hour and almost missed their reservation entirely. Lee was so angry, he started sketching out early ideas for the company right there at the restaurant.
Luxe, which launched Thursday, is a valet parking app that’s almost too good to be true. Before you leave your house, you plug in the address you’re going to. The app tracks you as you make your way to your destination, and about 10 minutes before you get there, it matches you with a Luxe valet attendant.
Dressed in a bright blue jacket, your attendant meets you at your destination, hops into your car, and asks when you’ll need it back and if you want them to run your car through a car wash or to fill your tank up with gas. Then they take your car to one of several lots in the city that Luxe has struck deals with.
Ten minutes before you’re ready to leave, you use the app to request the valet to bring your car wherever you are. The most surprising thing about the app is that it costs $US5 an hour, or $US15 a day. That’s ridiculously less expensive than other services. A competitor in this same space, ValetAnywhere, charges $US6 an hour, and up to $US42 a day, the Wall Street Journal notes. And that’s only available in New York City.
The parking situation in San Francisco is so dire that apps have been created specifically to let people auction off their parking spots, and the San Francisco City Attorney has had to make a statement declaring such auctions illegal. But since so many people commute into San Francisco, they don’t have the option of forgoing cars altogether and hailing an Uber or Lyft to get to work, or to wherever else they want to go.
There are a couple of drawbacks that Luxe will surely straighten out as it grows. It’s only available in San Francisco for now, though the company says it plans to expand to other cities. And the app is only available on iOS.
Lee, the CEO and cofounder of Luxe, was most recently the Entrepreneur in Residence at Lightspeed Venture Partners, where he met his cofounder Craig Martin and started developing Luxe a year and a half ago.
Lee previously had stints at Groupon, Zynga, Google, and Skype. Martin and Lee brought their COO from Lightspeed, Greg Zanghi, on board. Zanghi had also built Tesla’s operations group from the ground up.
On Thursday, Luxe announced its first round of fundraising: $US5.5 million from Google Ventures, Sherpa Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Upfront Ventures, Foundation Capital, BoxGroup, Slow Ventures, Data Collective, Eniac Ventures, and Rothenberg Ventures.
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