Japan’s parking lot sharing platform Akippa raises $7.4M, unveils IoT gate control system

Akippa CEO Genki Kanaya

See the original story in Japanese.

Akippa, which provides a peer-to-peer sharing and reservation service for car parking, announced that it has successfully raised funds and entered into new business alliances. Japan Post Holdings, JR East Startup Program, Nippon Rent-a-car, Fukuoka Financial Group Venture Business Partners, Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting, and Chishima Real Estate joined existing investor Sumitomo Corporation bringing the total to seven participating companies. The total amount raised this time was 810 million yen (about $7.4M US) and it brought the cumulative amount raised to $2.4 billion yen (nearly $22M US).

In addition to improving the service, Akippa aims to use the funds raised to build a new mobility platform.

Prior to this release, the company had also announced Share Gate, a control system for parking lots using IoT gates, in collaboration with electronic key developer/supplier Art.

The system can be installed at the entrance/exit of gated parking lots. Until now, parking lots that could use Akippa were limited to those without gates due to the problem of arranging entering and exiting. By using the system, Akippa users can book a parking space, connect to the system via Bluetooth, enter the access code generated by the app, and successfully open and close the gates. As a result, even in unmanned parking lots the company can provide advance booking and smart settlement.

With the development of Share Gate, parking lot operators can also use Akippa to rent out parking lots during times of low occupancy. The initial cost of the device is 200,000 yen (about $1,800 US), and installation is an additional 50,000 yen ($457 US). Monthly maintenance is free and the contract period is for two years. However, if a company signs a contract within 2018 all of these costs will be born by Akippa, effectively making it free. Art provides the terminal maintenance. At the time of the release, Daiwa House Parking, Daiwa Lease, and  Izumi Parking had all introduced it.

Akippa aims for MaaS–The Future of an “Akippa ID” Platform

Akippa announced a large funding. It is the first news released in nearly one and a half years, the last being December 2016 with the announcement of its alliance with Toyota. Currently Akippa has 700,000 users and the number of available parking spaces has grown to 20,000. By contrast, the competition among parking sharing is getting more intense. One symbolic example is Softbank’s entry in April of this year.

How does the leader in user numbers, Akippa, dodge the advancement of large companies? CEO Genki Kanaya said the answer lies in the expanded use of Akippa ID.

Kanaya says:

In terms of our business plan, we’ve seen (a growth curve). Our sales prediction includes roughly 1/5th of the coin parking market.

According to Kanaya, the company will continue to push the current Akippa service, and with the acquired user IDs it plans to provide other services. One example he put forward was peer-to-peer car sharing, or other experiences centered around “movement”. While still in the concept stage, the strategy is to construct a mobility platform and involve many external companies.

For example, along with Nippon Rent-a-car, which they aligned with this time, it will take steps to promote sharing the vacant spaces of car rental lots, and through sharing IDs, encourage mutual use among current users.

In the future, the company will expand the parking spots to 100,000 by 2020 and advance the construction of a conceptual mobility platform.

Translated by Amanda Imasaka
Edited by Masaru Ikeda