Startups

Dude, your car’s getting towed

YourCar offers “neighborly messaging” for folks in a pinch. The Baltimore-built app has humble roots in a neighborhood Facebook group.

A YourCar sticker.

(Courtesy photo)

The Canton Neighbors Facebook page frequently contains messages about cars that are about to get towed. The messages urging people to move their car are broadcast to the more than 14,000 members. Often, the time between post and hitch is pretty tight.
“The likelihood that this person is going to see it in the next 20 minutes is pretty low,” said Michael Cianos.
To make communication more direct, Cianos teamed with fellow Canton residents Pierce Farnum and Nick Stengel to create YourCar. The app, which is now available on iOs, allows people to message each other using only a license plate number as an identifier.
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Along with towing, the founders think the messaging can be useful for potential tickets, or something as simple as a neighbor who left their lights on. Perhaps a neighbor would even be willing to move up a few feet so you can park on your own street.
There’s proof from the Facebook page that the messages get sent, but the founders also want to be sure the messaging doesn’t get antagonistic. Cianos said they are willing to take the necessary steps to give people the boot.
“We are really stressing the neighborly aspect of the app,” Cianos said. “We want to curate a community of respectful people.”
The launch has been in process since development started in early May. To create initial buzz, the team has been handing out stickers so people can display the fact that they are on the app. The early focus is on Canton and Federal Hill, where parking is always a talking point.
Though it’s a new concept, these congested areas have been the source of parking app ideas before. Haystack, the Canton-founded app that allowed people to rent out parking spaces in the neighborhood, ultimately shut down amid issues with expanding to other cities. Federal Hill-based Parking Panda, which allows customers to reserve spaces in advance, continues to expand.
The self-funding YourCar team has ideas for monetization, but right now the focus is on growing that user base. Cianos, who previously worked on the nightlife app Happinin, said he put an emphasis on releasing a relatively simple yet well-built product that makes a good first impression.
“We really just want to get a product out there that people feel comfortable with and trust, and that they find valuable,” Cianos said.

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