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Startup Creates Mobile App to Ease Parking Nightmares QuickPay drives the private parking lot into the 21st century.

By Grant Davis

One night in July 2011, Barney Pell went to an event in San Francisco's Mission District. When he pulled into a self-service parking lot, a stranger came up to his car and asked him to try QuickPay, a new app that would let him pay for a spot with his iPhone (plus 35 cents for the convenience). Pell--an angel investor who was preparing to leave Microsoft, where he was one of the chief architects of the Bing search engine--downloaded the easy-to-use app and registered his information, including credit card number and license plate, thanked the guy and went on his way.

That stranger was Carl Muirbrook, a serial entrepreneur from the agropharma industry who'd decided to bring the business model for parking lots into the mobile-powered 21st century. When Pell returned after his event, Muirbrook was still there--he had recognized Pell from his Bing vanity license plate and knew a potential partner when he saw one.

"The idea of paying for parking with a phone isn't new," says Pell, who joined QuickPay as chairman with a "mid-six-figure" investment. "But the technology was for city-owned parking meters. Carl's focus is off-street, private lots. These are local businesses renting out 10-by-20-foot spaces … and to them an empty space is money they'll never see."

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