NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — This is one of those business stories that will make you say: "Why didn't I think of that?"
Joe Colangelo of Boxcar developed a simple app to solve a simple problem: lack of parking.
He partners with property owners, such as churches and local organizations, located near train stations in the suburbs and offers them 75 percent of sales to open their vacant spaces to Boxcar parkers.
In this week's Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by BNB Bank — "Community Banking from Montauk to Manhattan," Colangelo tells Joe Connolly that other companies have tried to do this, but it's not just about techology and software.
"The pastor of a church, he's gotta be protective of his flock, his property and he spent the last 20 years getting people to not park on his property. And here we come and we say, 'We want you to have people park on your property.' And he's like, 'Get out of here.' First off what we have to do is convince him that this is safe. So we've got insurance, we've got the ability to turn off on a big funeral day. Whenever they need the lot, they turn the spots off. And on the other hand we need to convince people that they can park in this church. As much as you want to think that this is a technology company at the end of the day if we're not willing to hit the pavement and spend long hours with church operators it's not going to work."
Commuters in over 40 towns can download the app and reserve parking right next to the train station for a couple of dollars a day.
Colangelo started small by renting out his own driveway for $1 a day in Cranford, New Jersey. He got the word out by going straight to the target audience and handed out flyers to commuters on the train station platform, which is what Boxcar does to this day.
In 2017, Colangelo also capitalized on the "Summer of hell" by offering a bus service to New Jersey commuters. Now, that bus service is an adjacent service.