Inside the Sweetch home office, where five French entrepreneurs did an about-face after their parking app drew the ire of San Francisco officials. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
SAN FRANCISCO — It’s every entrepreneur’s worst nightmare: The app you’ve spent hours developing gets shut down before it even really launches.
It’s been a rocky road for four young French entrepreneurs who hoped to make their mark with a parking app called Sweetch. Their idea was to alert prospective parkers that spots on the street were freeing up, exchanging a nominal fee between drivers that could be donated to local charities. But instead of paving the road to fame by clearing the city’s congested streets, they ended up pulling their app from the Apple store under threat of litigation from San Francisco’s City Attorney.
“We helped five or 10 people a day, we brought value to them, but the city didn’t even try to understand that,” co-founder Hamza Ouazzani Chahdi says, speaking to Cult of Mac in the sunny, immaculate and modern apartment the guys call both home and office in the city’s Mission District. “We were lumped in with the other apps that definitely had a predatory model and it was toxic for us.”
He says that despite a meeting with San Francisco officials, the entrepreneurs weren’t really give a chance: “It was just, ‘Here’s your deadline.’”
The VoicePark app could be the solution to San Francisco’s parking problems. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
SAN FRANCISCO — A parking app that reliably helps find open spots in this congested city was coded on a turn-of-the-century tugboat in Sausalito.
The Terrapin served David LaBua as a coding den for VoicePark, a free app that uses sensors to monitor parking spots. It’s the only one we’ve tested to date that guided us to viable public spots on the busy streets of San Francisco.
“Parking is probably San Francisco’s biggest stressor, and writing about it has been very therapeutic for me,” says LaBua, who holds a master of science in psychology. “I had no intention of getting into the app game, but there was a real need for it.”
MonkeyParking is under fire by the city of San Francisco. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
SAN FRANCISCO — You can buy and sell a lot of things in this boom town, just not public parking spaces. All three parking apps called out by the city attorney for auctioning or selling public spaces have backed off.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera slapped MonkeyParking with a cease-and-desist on June 23 and mentioned that similar apps Sweetch and ParkModo were next in line. Each took a different tack — defiant, conciliatory, quiet — but in the end, all three are on hiatus.
If you’ve ever returned to your car to find that you’ve earned yourself a whopping great fine for running over on the meter, or parking too long in the same spot, Honkis here to help! Simply swipe the virtual parking meter to record how much time you’ve got to park and Honk will ensure you’re reminded when it’s nearly time to move your car. The app icon on your home screen will even display how much time you’ve got left minute-by-minute, so it’s easy to see at a quick glance. You can even use to Honk to remind yourself of where you parked by making handwritten notes, taking photos, and using your GPS location.