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Monday, April 22, 2024

With Florida football fans excitingly infiltrating the Swamp on game days, students JJ Paulsen and Dustin Karp knew action needed to be taken over limited parking. 

Karp, a 22-year-old UF computer science alumnus, and Paulsen, a 19-year-old Santa Fe College business administration junior, partnered up to create Perch Parking, a platform designed to simplify the game day parking process.

The app offers local residents and businesses the opportunity to monetize their available parking spaces on game days. 

People traveling to the games can book parking spaces with residents and franchises through the app. There’s flexibility to book in advance or closer to gamedays.

The app “soft launched” last fall, focusing strictly on homeowner services.

Karp and Paulsen are now looking to expand to business services as well as improve on issues from the previous season with the app fully launched July 15. 

“The motivation for starting was definitely being a student at UF for four years,” Karp said. “It was the terrible traffic on game days.”

Even though Karp can walk to the stadium from his apartment, he knows how difficult it is for many to find close and affordable parking, he said.

Growing up with a Gator alumni family, Paulsen also accustomed himself to the hectic traffic on game days. 

Karp and Paulsen initially pitched their idea without an app, knocking on people’s doors, printing flyers and advertising parking spaces to residents nearby.

The interest grew to the point where they couldn't just do it with physical flyers anymore, sparking the idea for the app, Karp said.

More than 200 parking reservations were booked on a per-game basis last football season.

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Danielle Ockman, a 52-year-old Gator mom, heard about Perch Parking through Facebook on a UF parent page.

They were heading to their first game and had been warned about the parking situation, she said.

“I was very excited to find the app, so I could hopefully secure something before we got there,” Ockman said.

Ockman’s family booked with a homeowner residing nearby.

Incoming students are also excited about the app to improve game day traditions.

Kaley Mantz, an 18-year-old UF media and production freshman, believes the app will make game days easier after she’s observed people standing outside their homes with parking signs in exchange for cash.

“Most people don't carry cash anymore,” Mantz said. “That will be an easy way for people to reserve a spot online, and they will have a guaranteed spot.”

Mantz hopes the app will decrease traffic around the stadium, making it safer for pedestrians to enjoy the atmosphere.

Oliver Guzman, Karp’s hometown friend, is excited to visit his friends in Gainesville for football season to test out the app. 

“I thought it was a great idea,” Guzman said. “It’s a very convenient way to park without any hassle.” 

Richie Bailey, a 22-year-old UF alumnus, listed his home for parking, eventually helping Karp and Paulsen with assessing the app.

“My house was in prime vicinity for game day parking,” Bailey said. “They used our house as one of their initial lots to gather data and identify pain points in the customer and host pipelines.”

Through businesses, they can offer seasonal parking because their parking is standard, Paulsen said.

Paulsen and Karp are eager to aim for more bookings, and they're hoping to overall create a better gameday experience for customers.

“We want people to know that they can find safe and secure parking,” Karp said. 

At the end of the day, the Gator community is a family so they just want to enhance that experience, he said. 

After resolving parking discrepancies in the Swamp, Karp and Paulsen hope for Perch Parking to expand to additional sporting events, concerts, venues and festivals.

Contact Nicole at nbeltran@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @nicolebeltg.

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Nicole Beltran

Nicole Beltran is a second-year journalism and economics major. This is her first semester as the race and equity reporter. She has previously worked as a translator and editor for El Caimán. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, trying new foods and drawing.


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