Long-term parking at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport can cost anywhere from $28 per day to $130 per week. Now one company wants to help travelers save that chunk of cash — and perhaps even make some money in the process.
San Francisco-based FlightCar today officially debuted its peer-to-peer car-sharing service at Sea-Tac, marking the fourth expansion city for the young startup.
“All our customers said Seattle, Seattle, Seattle — when are you going to be here?” CEO and co-founder Kevin Petrovic said at the GeekWire Summit earlier this month. “So, we’re finally here.”
FlightCar, which already operates in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston, gives customers a way to park their car for free while allowing others to rent out those same vehicles for a fee. FlightCar pays car owners based on the mileage the car is driven.
Renters, meanwhile, pay less than they do with traditional rental car companies — as little as $15 per day. Those under the age of 21 are assessed an additional $25 per day fee, while 21-year-olds pay $10. Renters are limited to 100 miles of driving per day, and they can’t smoke in the cars, drive them outside of the country or participate in illegal activity. Liability and property coverage is included for each rental, and those with major driving violations in the past three years are prevented from renting.
The service also includes free drop off and pick up for both renters and owners, who get a complimentary car wash.
After just 18 months, FlightCar now has more than 30,000 members across its three cities. The startup has also raised $20 million — including a $13.5 million round that it announced last month — and is led by two young entrepreneurs: Petrovic (age 20) and Rujul Zaparde (age 19).
We enjoyed hearing from Petrovic at the GeekWire Summit, where the co-founder explained what it’s been like to be in charge of a fast-growing company in the ever-expanding peer-to-peer economy space.
“It’s been a learning process the entire way,” he said. “I haven’t ran a startup before this, and I haven’t had a lot of experience with the regulatory, city, airport, and government challenges that we encounter.”
The startup has run into some problems with airport regulators in San Francisco, and is currently in litigation with SFO over what it means to be a peer-to-peer company versus a traditional rental car company.
As far as Seattle, Zaparde tells GeekWire that since FlightCar is operating off airport property, it did not need to have formal agreements with Sea-Tac.
“Our current understanding of the rules means our operation does not require us to hold any permits with the airport directly,” he explained. “We’re looking forward to creating additional income opportunities and offering savings to local Seattle and Tacoma residents that are interested in sharing their car with travelers and other locals.”
During the Summit sharing economy panel, Petrovic noted how the company is having trouble keeping supply steady, with not enough cars stocked in each parking lot. In response, FlightCar has begun advertising a deal to those who may not even be traveling from the airport, but have an idle car sitting at home.
“It’s almost an Uber-like service,” Petrovic said. “We pick up your car, you get a guaranteed check every month, and don’t have to think about it at all. It’s really, really easy and we take care of everything.”
Eventually, the hope for FlightCar is to increase to more locations so that it can offer a service to travelers both before and after a trip.
“We want to see you parking your car at your [FlightCar] home base, then where ever you go, renting a FlightCar on the other end,” Petrovic explained. “That’s going to be a huge part of our development and building our community base, and just making people more and more trusting of FlightCar and willing to give up their car.”
FlightCar, a graduate of both Y Combinator and The Brandery accelerators, will open today at 19820 International Blvd just south of the Sea-Tac Airport. For more information, check out this FAQ.