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AirGarage student founders get boost from several ASU entrepreneurship programs.
July 24, 2017

Online marketplace to connect drivers, homeowners for affordable alternative to campus; goal is to expand to other colleges

With many major universities nationwide charging $500 or more a year for parking, two students at Arizona State University created a company to alleviate stress associated with finding affordable parking options near campus.

“Parking is so expensive,” said Jonathon Barkl, a physics and economics major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “We want to make it more accessible and affordable for students who traditionally can’t park on campus because of the price.”

In September 2016, Barkl and Scott Fitsimones, a computer science major in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, founded AirGarage — an online marketplace for people to list, find and book parking spaces in Tempe, Arizona. For example, a homeowner with enough room in a driveway for an extra car could list that spot and a driver needing to park in that area could rent it. The students are striving to generate value for both parties by creating a market for extra space on private property that may not have previously been thought of as available parking.

“There are a couple other companies that manage parking, but they mostly create value for the parking garage,” said Barkl. “AirGarage is creating new supply to meet the excess demand in parking, which will add new value for two different groups who haven’t seen value for their homes or cars in years.”

After surveying 250 students, Barkl and Fitsimones found nearly 33 percent of the students don’t park on campus, citing prices as the biggest factor in their decision. And, despite paying for parking, a majority of students still walk anywhere from five to 15 minutes to get to their classes.

Currently, AirGarage is focused on helping ASU students find parking close to campus. The student co-founders plan to partner with the city of Tempe to reduce congestion and limit the need for more parking facilities.

“We’re trying to connect people with the untapped resource sitting all around us,” said Barkl.

AirGarage has about 36 spots listed at the moment. As Barkl and Fitsimones figure out how to grow and scale the company, they want to branch out to other universities. From there, the students want to expand to other areas around the country that have parking shortages as well.

“We’ve developed this car culture over the past 100 years, yet the biggest nuisance of our daily lives is finding somewhere to put the 2-ton hunk of steel we use to carry us around every day,” said Barkl. “It’s a little ridiculous that we haven’t come up with a better solution to this problem.”


Cofounders of AirGarage: physics and economics major Jonathon Barkl and computer science major Scott Fitsimones
Physics and economics major Jonathon Barkl (left) and computer science major Scott Fitsimones founded AirGarage in September 2016.


In November 2016, Barkl and Fitsimones competed in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering eSeed Challenge, a competition hosted through ASU’s Entrepreneurship + Innovation division that encourages students to make a difference in local and global communities through innovation.

After being selected as one of the top ventures, the students won $6,000 in seed funding and an all-expenses-paid innovation field trip to advance their startup, which was hosted by Tom Prescott — the former president, CEO and director of Align Technology Inc.

The students also received guidance from Brent Sebold, the executive director of venture development at Entrepreneurship + Innovation in ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development.

“ASU’s entrepreneurship resources were really helpful in being able to found this company,” said Barkl. “They plugged us into a network of bright, successful entrepreneurs, which helped us formulate and develop the idea further.”

In addition, Barkl and Fitsimones took advantage of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Innovation Advancement Program, which pairs emerging technology companies with ASU’s brightest law students to help solidify a startup’s legal foundation, including the creation of user agreements and contracts.

“ASU’s commitment to innovation has provided the perfect market to help us prove our idea,” said Barkl. “If AirGarage can become a successful startup, it’ll inspire other students and foster a startup culture in the Phoenix metro area.”

For students who want to launch similar ventures, Barkl advised them to just get started. He said it has been a daunting task to start a company going into his junior year of college, but he’s determined to pursue the challenge.

“Taking the first step is the hardest part,” said Barkl. “But if I can create value for people in some way, then I’ve had my impact on the world. My desire to have an impact on people is what drives me.” 

For more information about AirGarage, visit the company’s website or Facebook page

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ASU history professor to explore African-Americans' perspective of World War II

ASU professor to explore how African-Americans fought fascism, racism in WWII.
August 1, 2017

Matthew Delmont wins Guggenheim Fellowship to research how black people rallied to fight fascism and racism

The threads of history are often found in the daily life of people, and Matthew Delmont has been exploring that theme.

The Arizona State University history professor wrapped up his yearlong digital project, “Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers,” earlier this year, and that inspired his next project on the daily lives of black people during World War II.

“African-Americans rallied around something called the ‘double-victory campaign,’ which meant victory over fascism abroad and victory over racism at home,” DelmontHe also is the author of “Making Roots: A Nation Captivated,” “Why Busing Failed: Race, Media, and the National Backlash to School Desegregation” and “The Nicest Kids in Town: American Bandstand, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in 1950s Philadelphia.” said.

“Black newspapers will be one of the main sources. They had war correspondents embedded in Europe and Asia, and they were dodging enemy fire to bring these stories to the communities in the U.S.”

RELATED: ASU professor's project emphasizes lesser-known elements of black history

Delmont’s project got a huge boost when he was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship recently, which will allow him to step away from his position and devote a year to research and writing.

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded 173 fellowships this year to scholars, artists and scientists out of nearly 3,000 applicants. Delmont is ASU’s 32nd Guggenheim Fellow.

Delmont discussed his upcoming project with ASU Now:

Question: How will you spend the fellowship year?

Answer: As the new director of the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, I’ll defer the fellowship for a year, until 2018-2019, when we’ll have an interim director of the school.

I’ll spend the year looking up a lot of archival information, looking at black newspapers, documents, letters, reports, all things related to what was going on in the front or related to African-American troops deployed either in Europe or the Pacific Theater.

Q: How did African-Americans see the war?

A: When you look at this from an African-American perspective, the time period of the war changes. Usually when we talk about American involvement in World War II, we talk about 1941 to 1945 — 1941 being Pearl Harbor and 1945 being when Japan and Germany surrendered.

When you look at how African-Americans considered World War II, it actually started earlier. When Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, a lot of African-Americans considered that to be the start of war because it was a fascist nation invading the only independent nation in Africa. So even though the United States wasn’t involved yet, they saw their interests in play. They were using language about fighting against fascism by the mid-1930s.

Q: And what about after 1945?

A: For a lot of African-American veterans, when they came home they experienced similar levels of racism they had prior to the war. There was a great amount of hope that by proving their patriotism, by proving their service to the country in World War II, things would be different once they got home. In a lot of cases, that didn’t happen. You had lynchings of African-American veterans in the South and you had continued discrimination in housing, education and employment all throughout the country.

World War II became a rallying point for a lot of civil-rights activism after the war. So I think saying the war ended in 1945 doesn’t really accurately capture how black veterans and African-American communities more broadly tried to continue the organizing efforts.

They came home fighting for things in the home front that the nation had been fighting for internationally in terms of democracy and equality and freedom. They wanted to see those things be true not just in Europe but also in the United States for them.

Q: How did you become interested in this era?

A: My last digital project was “The Black Quotidian.” I saw some fascinating articles, a mix of local and global stories. In a single newspaper, you’d see a story about a set of brothers from Cleveland who were fighting in the war, and what neighborhood they were from and what their parents thought about it and in the same issue you’d see what was going on in Ethiopia, with a global perspective. I saw so many smaller references that I became interested in how the bigger picture fit together.

And also it’s the current political climate in the country. A lot of questions are being raised about civil rights and whether our nation will ever be equal in terms of race and opportunity. Looking back to World War II, what we usually think of as the golden era of our nation’s history, the “good war,” a lot of the issues regarding race relations look similar to what we see in the news today. There were race riots and racial confrontations in cities and on Army posts all across the country during the war, and I don’t think most people think about that when they think about World War II.

I think by looking back and seeing that these levels of racism and racial unrest have always been part of our nation’s history and something we have to reckon with and deal with honestly, I’m hoping that seeing World War II in that way can give us a usable history to better understand why we’re trying to deal with those same issues over six deades later.


Find Delmont’s “Daily Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers” project here.


Top photo: Matthew Delmont, a history professor and director of the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, won a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. He'll spend a year researching the perspectives of African Americans during World War II. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now