A new app that allows you to pay for a parking meter by smartphone recently won the Arizona Innovation Challenge run by the Arizona Commerce Authority. ParkX was an app created by a business that formed out of the University of Arizona and operates out of Scottsdale. Austin Weiss of ParkX will tell us more.
TED SIMONS: Tonight's edition of "Arizona Technology and Innovation" looks at a new app that recently won the Arizona innovation challenge run by the State Commerce Authority. The winning app is called Park-X and allows for parking meters to be paid by smartphones.
Austin Weiss is with Park-X, welcome to "Arizona Horizon."
AUSTIN WEISS: Excited to be here.
TED SIMONS: Did you find a place to park outside?
AUSTIN WEISS: Very easily.
TED SIMONS: Describe the app. How does this work?
AUSTIN WEISS: Motorists pull up to a parking meter that's Park-X enabled. They will download the application through the app store or the Android market. They will be A001, A002. They will enter the space number, select the amount they wish to pay and select pay.
TED SIMONS: ow do you know this is going to work on your phone?
AUSTIN WEISS: It's going to be advertised directly on the face of the meter. There will be a giant sticker on the spot.
TED SIMONS: Everything's great and all of a sudden I'm wondering, am I running out of time. Does my phone alert me that I'm running out of time?
AUSTIN WEISS: Yes, we do. You can add time wherever you're at. If this interview were to go long, I could pull out my phone from under the desk and add time right here.
TED SIMONS: There are similar systems already in place?
AUSTIN WEISS: There are similar systems in place, not too many. We're a new up and comer and we think our price differentiates us.
TED SIMONS: What is the cost of this app?
AUSTIN WEISS: It's going to be a charge for the user, typically between 25 cents to 35 cents on top of the meter fee. We also have couponing options where we know where you're parked around. If you're parked in front of Joe's coffeeshop, we know on the way back to your car we can send a coupon to Joe's coffeeshop and everybody's happy.
TED SIMONS: Winner, Arizona innovation challenge. What was that all about?
AUSTIN WEISS: It's run through the Arizona commerce authority, a grant program for new innovation and technology. I was a student at the University of Arizona. We applied for the Arizona innovation challenge five times, and we were very excited that we won this last time. It has to go through many, many rounds, about five rounds, last is a 10-minute presentation in front of a board of directors.
TED SIMONS: And now you're based in Scottsdale, why Scottsdale?
AUSTIN WEISS: We wanted to be closer to Arizona innovation challenge and the commerce authority, because they have been a great help to us in kind of directing the business. We think Arizona has a lot of opportunities in the near future.
TED SIMONS: Other locations, Corpus Christi and El Paso.
AUSTIN WEISS: Correct.
TED SIMONS: Why those places?
AUSTIN WEISS: Because they were up and coming and incorporated this new technology. A lot of the people are kind of wary of bringing on this new technology and they want to see it proven first. Luckily we had partners in corpus and El Paso willing to take a chance.
TED SIMONS: What are the challenges of getting a company off the ground in general, and a company like this?
AUSTIN WEISS: It's different for every company. For us the challenges were just getting in the door. People want to see a proven track record before they are going to give you anything. We like the technology but will you prove it. We can't prove it because nobody's giving us a chance.
TED SIMONS: The city has to agree to put the stickers on the parking meters.
AUSTIN WEISS: We run through the municipalities.
TED SIMONS: And how much cooperation have you had so far?
AUSTIN WEISS: A far amount of cooperation. They like the idea, and we're seeing a certain amount of adoption with our competitors as well as us.
TED SIMONS: We talk a lot to tech and innovation companies and start-ups. Obviously there are challenges when you get started. Now that you're up and off the ground, cities off the ground and all that, new challenges.
AUSTIN WEISS: Now it's getting the word about Park-X in Corpus and El Paso, targeting the right user group. Obviously people will pay with coins and credit cards directly at the meter. Just targeting our prime demographic.
TED SIMONS: What is that prime user group?
AUSTIN WEISS: Usually people between 18 and 45, that have smartphones.
TED SIMONS: And they are willing to work with it until you get it to work?
AUSTIN WEISS: That's not necessarily true. Usually the process takes about 30 seconds. We need a user name, email and then your credit card.
TED SIMONS: Last question: What is next for you and Park-X?
AUSTIN WEISS: It's to keep cooperating with new cities. We're always on the look for new opportunities. I think there's going to be someone especially in the state of Arizona, that's why we're here in Scottsdale, to target those cities.
TED SIMONS: Sounds like you know what you're doing, congratulations on this, sounds like a fun thing. Congratulations on the innovation challenge, as well.
AUSTIN WEISS: Thank you.
TED SIMONS: Friday on "Arizona Horizon" it's the "Journalists' Roundtable." The Governor warns business leaders not to support any initiative pushing for more education funding. And the latest in the escalating feud between Diane Douglas and the Department of Education. Those stories and more Friday on the "Journalists' Roundtable." If you'd like to watch tonight's program again or see any past edition of "Arizona Horizon" or see what we have in the future, check out azpbs.org/horizon. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.
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