UC Davis graduates develop smart parking sensor

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A pair of recent University of California, Davis graduates have parlayed a one-time class project into a real-life, money-making business.

It’s called Japa.

“Japa, Just a Parking App,” said co-founder Mathew Magno. “Smart parking is such a new industry that no one has really heard about. We took it outside the classroom. We made it into a real business.”

Magno and his business partner, Charles Chen, simplified smart parking with a device that looks like a frisbee. It is a sensor that can be secured to a parking stall.

The devices cost around $100 each.

“They can see in real-time which spaces are available, which ones are taken. Get directions to an available space,” Magno explained.

“At the beginning, we really were just thinking about ourselves, drivers,” Chen told FOX40. “But we realized we really needed to work with the transportation managers at these big institutions.”

In less than a year since its launch, Japa has secured contracts at UC Davis, UC Berkeley, the city of Woodland and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

“The employees, I’ve gotten a lot of compliments about being able to pull up to work and look at the sign and see if there’s a parking spot available,” said Al Ernst, the facilities and maintenance supervisor for SMUD.

“We think of parking as a cycle,” Magno said. “So we take care of not only the management but the commuters.”

Through the Japa app, drivers can cut down on the time they spend circling parking lots by looking in advance at where and what lots spaces are available.

“We ended up with a product that people want, people actually are paying thousands of dollars for just to use,” Magno said.

In its first year, Japa earned more than $90,000 in revenue and took in more than $400,000 in bookings.

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