Tech City: App brings valet service to London commuters
- Credit: Archant
Tech City is the third largest technology hub in the world, and it’s right on our doorstep. Each week, we bring you news from the thriving area around Old Street roundabout. This week, reporter Sophie Inge talks to Nash Islam, co-founder of Vallie, the UK’s first on-demand app-based valet parking service.
Parking in central London can be a nightmare at the best of times, with many commuters wasting valuable minutes seeking out a coveted parking space which is often far away from their place of work.
Launched last week in the City of London area, Vallie is a new app that aims to solve this problem by offering the UK’s first on-demand valet parking service.
Through the app, commuters can select a drop-off location for their cars at any destination within the area known as the Square Mile. They then hand over their keys to a Vallie driver who will park their vehicle for them in a commercial car park with CCTV and secure barriers.
The app will update customers on their car’s location throughout the parking experience and cars will be returned to any chosen destination within 20 minutes.
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“I often explain it as Uber inside out,” says the app’s co-founder Nash Islam, 30. “Whereas with Uber the driver and car comes to you, here the driver is the customer and we take the car away from them.”
Mr Islam, who is a serial entrepreneur and investor in small start-ups (known as angel investment), created the app with Oxford graduate and former Barclays trader Robin Doble, 34, also the founder of the app-based car-washing service GoWashMyCar, after observing the success of similar apps like Luxe and Zirx in the US and China’s Tingchebao.
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Although valet service has taken off in the US and China, Mr Islam admits that they will have their work cut out for them to try and get Londoners to trust the service, which is still a novelty in the UK.
“In America it’s very common to see a man in front of a hotel or a restaurant with a bowtie taking your car keys but you never see that here in London,” he says.
“That’s one barrier we have to overcome. Our first target is to get users here to trust our service.”
While valet-parking might seem like a luxury, it actually works out cheaper than using an ordinary car park in the City of London, with an average 20 per cent savings based on the daily rates of car parks.
Customers can either pay £8 per hour for the service or a total of £25 per day depending on what works out cheapest.
What if the valet crashes your car or, worse, steals it? According to Mr Islam, this isn’t an issue.
“We have a pretty deep vetting process,” he says. “Every single valet must go through a multiple round of interviews, a driving test, then a full background check.
“We run a credit report, check that they have a right to work in the UK, and their criminal history. If not they can’t work with us.”
Vallie drivers are insured for up to £100,000 damage on the car and up to £10 million third-party liability while driving.
The drivers will also be audited regularly to ensure high levels of customer service and safe driving.
For now, the service is piloting in the City of London area with 15 fully vetted Vallie drivers but the founders hope to shortly roll it out across the capital and other cities.
Eventually, the founders also plan to provide car washes, gas fill-ups and oil changes as part of the service.
For more information on the app, visit the Vallie website