LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Instead of paying for parking at LAX, you can now make money while you’re out of town — by letting strangers rent your car.
CEO and co-founder Rujul Zaparde spent his 19th birthday overseeing the opening of FlightCar new Los Angeles location.
While KNX1070’s Claudia Peschiutta did not find any customers at its office on the first day of business, Zaparde seemed unconcerned.
“If you look at the inefficiency at the airport, it’s vast. There’s thousands of cars sitting at the Enterprise and Hertz locations,” he noted, while thousands of travelers are paying for their cars to sit in parking lots.
LAX marks FlightCar’s third location. The first one opened in February in the San Francisco area. The second opened a few months later in Boston.
“The growth has been great. We’ve just now handled just over 3,500 rentals since February and have just over 3,700 listings I believe,” he said.
The service works by allowing customers to drop off their cars at FlightCar locations, where they will get a ride in a town car to their terminal.
As a customer, if someone rents your car while you’re gone, you get paid. How much depends on the type of vehicle, how old it is and how many miles were put on it. Newer luxury models can get customers up to 20 cents per mile.
“One of our most popular cars is actually the 3 Series. And we’ve had everything from a Lotus to Jaguars,” Zaparde said.
FlightCar insures every vehicle up to $1 million. And if no one rents your car, while you won’t get paid, you also won’t pay for parking.
Customers who list their cars at one FlightCar location and rent a car at another will also receive a discount.
FlightCar has received high ratings overall, including from reviewers on Yelp.
“The whole process was really easy and I appreciated not paying for parking when I was away,” one user wrote.
Zaparde admits, however, there have been some complaints.
“There was once when we did forget a chicken wing in a car. Of course, we paid the owner to have the car detailed,” he said.
Negative Yelp reviewers generally made complaints about recovering costs for damage.
“If your car is damaged by the person renting your car, you will have a nightmare to deal with the guys,” another reviewer wrote.
FlightCar was founded by three teenagers. One is no longer with the company.
Zaparde says they have raised about $6 million in funding, with backers including Ryan Seacrest and Ashton Kutcher.
“We’re definitely not profitable. There’s a ways to go before we are,” Zaparde said. “But we’re really focused now on expansion and growth.”
While the young executive plans for FlightCar to take off at LAX, KCAL9’s Andrea Fujii reports the company is not without problems.
FlightCar is being sued by the City of San Francisco amid claims it does not comply with airport rental car regulations.
Zaparde disputes the claim.
“We are not a car rental company, we’re a peer-to-peer car-sharing company,” he said.
A spokesperson for LAX declined to comment.