Fixed, the clever mobile application that helps you fight your parking tickets just by snapping a photo of the ticket with your mobile phone, has now closed on $1.2 million in seed funding. Investors in the round include Y Combinator, Merus Capital, Scott Banister, John Cobbs, Mark Randolph, Matt Humphries, Eric Wu and David King.
Headquartered in San Francisco, which also serves as its debut market, Fixed first launched this January, allowing residents to snap photos of their tickets using an iOS device. Afterwards, Fixed checks for common errors before proceeding to write a customized contest letter on your behalf, which is sent to the city.
The company recently opened up its waitlist to the entire San Francisco metro area and has since seen 35,000 users sign up for its service.
While the app hasn’t seen explicit pushback from the city the way that some other transportation or “sharing economy” startups have, San Francisco hasn’t been entirely cooperative, either, Fixed’s co-founder claims.
“San Francisco doesn’t have a way to submit a contest electronically, they insist that you mail it in,” explains co-founder David Hegarty, who created the company after receiving what he felt were several erroneously issued tickets. “After one or two contests got ‘lost in the mail’ we started faxing our submissions so we’d have an electronic record of delivery,” he says of Fixed’s early days.
“This week, they emailed us a pretty curt email to tell us ‘Stop using the fax machine’. No reason given” he continues. “After we politely pointed out that the Californian Vehicle Code allowed for the submission of Contests via Fax, they shut off the fax machine.”
But Fixed believes it’s operating within the law, and is now seeing around 1 percent of the city’s some 28,000 weekly parking tickets filtered through its app – or, around 300+ tickets per week. The company was in private beta since March, and has been growing its volume at 25 percent to 35 percent week-over-week, and more so since removing the waitlist function last month.
As for the tickets themselves, win rates are at 20 percent to 30 percent, depending on the violation type. Some violations are prone to errors, and with those Fixed has a higher win rate, Hegarty explains, while others are more difficult to contest.
But he also believes that Fixed’s win rate would be higher if the SFMTA followed the rules of the San Francisco Transportation Code and Californian Vehicle Code. “They are absolute sticklers for the law when issuing the ticket – no mercy or sense of fairness – but when it comes to the rules on how a citation must be properly written and contested, they take a very ‘lax’ interpretation of the rules to suit them,” he proclaims.
As for how his company plans to keep the city honest, so to speak, Hegarty couldn’t yet say, noting that Fixed would be weighing its options there.
Despite these challenges, Fixed’s seed round was oversubscribed, forcing the startup to turn money away.
With the additional funds, the company plans to now expand in San Francisco, increase its marketing efforts, and hire advocates to meet the increasing ticket volumes.
Today, the company has six employees in its office and 10 to 12 — dubbed Fixed’s “Ticket Heroes” — on the street. These are the first responders for the incoming tickets and are responsible for checking them for errors.
Longer term, if Fixed is able to scale its business to critical mass in San Francisco, the larger goal is to then take that blueprint to expand the service to other cities around the U.S., including New York, L.A. and Chicago for starters. The hope is to establish Fixed as a viable service in the U.S.’s top 100 cities within just two years – which seems fairly ambitious given the local pushback the startup has already received.