Rover is a mobile and online marketplace for parking that gives commuters better travel options, while proving communities the opportunity to profit from their vacant driveways or parking spaces. Individuals or businesses that have driveways or parking spaces that sit empty for hours on end, can share those spaces for a fee, resulting in some quick extra cash in hand. Rover's co-Founder, Grant Brigden, spoke with Invest in Ontario about the impact Rover and the new sharing economy will have on our communities, dramatically maximizing otherwise underutilized resources, while reducing environmental degradation and improving overall well-being.

Rover launched in Toronto in late 2015, and has had over 50,000 downloads and lists over 3,000 parking spots across Canada, mostly located in dense urban centres such as Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.

"We use a similar model to Airbnb, but we're doing a lot more than putting cars into spots," says co-Founder, Grant Brigden. "I believe we're truly changing the mobility picture through facilitating actual changes in both thinking and behavior." Unlike centralized parking lots, Rover's model creates a completely distributed model for parking supply. It allows drivers to park outside of congested areas where they can choose to connect with ridesharing, hop on a bicycle or walk the final leg of their trip, making the journey more enjoyable, less expensive and better for the environment. "In the city, drivers reduce the time they spend in their vehicles by 30-40% just by knowing where they are going to park," claims co-Founder, Grant Brigden. "Plus, if you spend the last part of your trip on transit or in an Uber vehicle, you can start working earlier than if you spend that time in your vehicle navigating downtown traffic."

Rover Peer to Peer sharing platform

There are several additional benefits on the horizon for those who give up traditional parking lots for a Rover parking space. "Right now, if you have an electric vehicle, you can park in a driveway and charge, but we're also looking into facilitating several add-on services, like auto detailing, routine maintenance services, bicycle rentals…One day, you might even decide to have packages delivered to your car rather than to your home – that's something I could see one day integrated into our application. [And] when cars become fully autonomous, it will be the cars themselves that will make the parking decisions," says Bridgen of his vision of the future of parking. "When that happens, occupying a spot close to downtown will become even less important." In the near term, some Rover parking spaces will begin to be equipped with IoT sensors, which will not only show if the spot is occupied or vacant, but will allow Rover users to be notified of local traffic issues as well as be alerted to special offers at stores located near to where they are parked.

Rover fetches awards and funding support

Rover has received a great deal of recognition in way of funding and awards. "We've received tremendous support along the way. We obtained funding from the Ontario Centres of Excellence, SR&ED tax credits, IRAP and grants for hiring students," says Bridgen. Over the past year, the company was a finalist for the PwC Vision to Reality Innovator of the Year award, and Bridgen and his co-Founder, Timothy Wooton, were nominated for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award. In July 2017, Rover won the Inaugural Infiniti Start-up Accelerator Lab competition in Toronto, which will take the company to a 6-month accelerator program in Hong Kong at the end of the year. "At the Infiniti Lab, we're exploring incorporating our product into other channels. For example, when you purchase a new vehicle, it might come with free parking on Rover for the entire term of the lease or financing."

Learn why global tech firms are thriving in Ontario


August 4, 2017
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