(Photo by Tyler Woods)
When I first moved to New York, four years ago, I brought with me a car. I had been a reporter up in suburban Connecticut and as a going-away present my mom had given me her well-broken-in Toyota Camry. I soon learned one of the lessons nearly everyone else in New York already knew: there’s nowhere to park.
Before work, I would get up 20 minutes early, then 30 minutes early, then 40 minutes early to troll the back streets of Greenpoint for a place to stash my car before the Alternate Side Parking Gods would sweep down my street and gleefully ticket me. The car lasted a month in New York before I shipped it off to my brother.
It doesn’t have to be like that. When we went to Brooklyn accelerator Urban-X for the debut of its new cohort of startups this fall, we met Ezra Goldman, the founder of Upshift, one of the companies in the accelerator. Upshift is working to give people in cities a better option when it comes to driving and parking. It’s a car-share program, basically, but one which is more convenient than a rental car, more upscale than Car2Go and which could be one of the ways people live in the cities of the future.
The following Q&A with Goldman has been lightly edited for length.
What was the problem you saw that you set out to solve?
There are upwards of 4.4 million cars parked on the streets of New York City that are used less than 5 percent of the time — mainly to get out of the city. Street parking takes up an area approximately 17 times the size of Central Park that can be unlocked with a better transportation solution for the long distance car trip.
How are you solving it?
Upshift makes getting out of the city simple and delightful. Send a text and get a new Prius delivered to you, clean and fully fueled — every time. Every shared vehicle eliminates 13 owned vehicles, so we can turn parking into parks.
Who are your founders?
Ezra Goldman (cofounder & CEO) is passionate about building better urban mobility solutions using new technologies and fewer resources. Ayako Hiwasa (Operations cofounder) is committed to making people’s lives better while driving meaningful systemic change.
What are you hoping to get out of being in the Urban-X accelerator?
We see a great opportunity to grow our business and increase our impact on cities with the backing of MINI and Urban Us. We are also looking forward to building our network in the New York City urban tech scene.-30-
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