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Posted on Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Startup site's mission: Connect tailgaters to available U-M football parking

By Sven Gustafson


Park n Party co-founders Jason Kapica, left, and Taylor Bond sit on their "Rock" outside of their offices on South Main Street in Ann Arbor.

Angela Cesere |

What sites like did for booking trips and StubHub for buying tickets, a new Internet startup wants to do for that most revered of fall traditions in Ann Arbor: finding a place to park and tailgate on football Saturdays.

Park n Party is the brainchild of local entrepreneur Taylor Bond and cofounder Jason Kapica, who recognized Ann Arbor’s thriving game-day economy on during the fall but noticed there were few easy ways to find a place to park. And party.

“There’s an opportunity to create a marketplace,” Bond said. “The marketplace is the fans on one side and the lot owners on the other. And when you bring those parties together on Park n Party, you create benefits for both sides.”

The startup has created a straightforward business model.

Fans heading to a Michigan game who need a place to park search the Park n Party database for available parking spaces. They can filter their search by distance from the stadium, price and amenities like the availability of bathrooms or auxiliary power. They then reserve a spot online using a credit card.

Lot owners—the site is open to both commercial businesses and private residences—can advertise their spaces at no charge. They then receive a report before game time that they can use to check against the receipts users are told to display atop their dashboards when they arrive.

Park n Party processes the transactions and siphons parking fees to the lot owners. The company retains a processing fee that averages $5 or $6. Users who make a reservation but are denied a space get a full refund.

The startup claims to have 27,000 parking spots available for reservation for the upcoming season, which starts Sept. 3 against Western Michigan. The duo expect to focus the launch of their service on Ann Arbor before broadening it to other Big Ten cities.

“We’re trying to figure out what we don’t know,” said Kapica, 35. “We’re really creating a market by itself. Nobody’s done this before.”

Bond, 49, is no stranger to launching businesses. He’s the founder of Children’s Orchard, a national children’s resale and retail franchise that shares the same office building as Park n Party. The University of Michigan graduate previously owned a Computer Renaissance franchise in Ann Arbor.

Kapica, 35, grew up in Menominee in the Upper Peninsula, attended Western Michigan University and ran his own Web development firm in Kalamazoo after graduation.

The two friends say they had always wanted to launch a business together and got their idea a year ago when Bond was helping park cars during a game. Bond said he noticed that fans spent a lot of time on their cell phones trying to track down their friends and wondered aloud about a way to make it easier for people to park and party before the game.

“It was one of those moments that was too good to be true, and then you start thinking, what’s the catch? Why isn’t somebody doing this?” Kapica said.

It took about eight months to build out the site, with the two enlisting the help of Saline-based DesignHub Inc.

Bond and Kapica say they have financed the venture entirely through their own funds, with the bulk of their six-figure investment spent on marketing and developing the information technology to handle the database and payment transactions.

While the market for Park n Party’s services would seem limited to a few months each fall, the owners say the site could be useful for events like the art fair, rock concerts, NASCAR races or any event where people like to tailgate and parking spaces are at a premium.

A mobile app version of the site and eventually offering franchising opportunities are also part of the future plans.

“We’re starting in Ann Arbor because if you can do it in Ann Arbor you can do it anywhere,” Bond said. “The overall objective is to expand into the rest of the Big Ten market and large college markets where this will make sense.”

Contact Sven Gustafson at sventg123(at)gmail(dot)com, or follow him on Twitter.



Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 2:23 a.m.

Looking at their website, <a href="," rel='nofollow'>,</a> it appears as if Park n Party doesn't charge the Lot Owners anything, the service is FREE! So, in that case, it seems to me to make a lot of sense. If I was looking for information about football parking, I wouldn't go to Craig's list, but, if I knew about it, I would go to Park n Party. I for one am willing to pay a &quot;premium&quot; to know where I'll park each game! For me, being able to make a reservation reduces stress, frustration, and uncertainty. Trying to park for ND, MSU, OSU, now NB, and others can be a nighmare! It also makes it easier for me to park with friends and family. It just makes sense to me. From a business standpoint, I can see where Park n Party offers smart lot owners the opportunity to increase sales by generating new revenue opportunities and loyal customers. The idea of selling out your lot before game day should be attractive to a lot owner. No need to get out there and wave flages, etc. Probably reduces staff as well. I get it guys! Good luck!

Sven Gustafson

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 11:50 p.m.

@Craig Lounsbury, do you think that Ann Arbor has a patent on tailgating?

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 8:33 p.m.

"We're starting in Ann Arbor because if you can do it in Ann Arbor you can do it anywhere," a flawed assumption I would think. You have chosen the largest possible venue with the largest potential customer base. Its more possible thats the only place it could work.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 7:03 p.m.

They invested six figures in this venture. If they have more money burning a hole in their pockets I have all sorts of suggestions for them to throw it at. Kiss it goodbye fellas. Better off going and dropping it all on a crap table.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 6:30 p.m.

I'm sorry but I really don't see the point and I feel bad for these investors because I do not see the niche. We park cars on football Saturdays and I would not give up even a minuscule fraction of what we get to a company like this. Craigslist is free and even when we posted on there we got very little response. The truth is we fill up pretty much every game by sitting outside and waiting for cars to drive by. Doesn't seem like there's this whole group of people who &quot;don't know where to park&quot; looks like the way it's been going for years is just fine. Not sure what the incentive is for tailgaters or residents/businesses to use the site. Not when u can drive down main and surrounding streets and be inundated with opportunities to park. Sorry guys I think u missed the mark on this one. Maybe consider making the site more like a social media that creates districts, ie all the MSU fans are parking on the west side, etc.

Ron Granger

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 4:34 p.m.

This is a great way for the city, state, and federal government to get their proper tax cut of these profits.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 3:21 p.m.

Did not see where President Obama, Governor Rick Snyder or any other member of Government was involved with the starting of this company? Do people really risk their own money to start businesses? Are these the Greedy people that government wants to pay their &quot;FAIR SHARE&quot;?

David Briegel

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 4:15 p.m.

grind your axe!

Ethics Advocate

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 2:03 p.m.

I don't know where the total of 27,000 parking places comes from--perhaps their ultimate goal in all 12 Big Ten cities? The total for Ann Arbor on their site is 1,979, with 1,800 of them at Ann Arbor Golf &amp; Outing at prices of $40 or $50.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 1:13 p.m.

So someone with a front yard agrees to be in this. The person reserving the space hasn't shown up, and there is a guy waving a $20 that wants to park. They take him, then the reservation shows up and ....


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 1:04 p.m.

AH, nice to see proof that our economy is changing to an Idea from a Service based. Understanding the niches in the market place that need improving and doing it. Better yet a simple need on both sides easily filled by organizing the buyers &amp; sellers. Good job guys.