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SpotHero tops off with another $30 million

The parking-technology race just got a little more interesting.

SpotHero, which recently bought rival Parking Panda, raised another $30 million to continue expanding its footprint and its technology. The latest infusion of cash brings SpotHero's total fundraising to $57.5 million.

"This is the funding round that gets us to profitability," said CEO Mark Lawrence. "We're in control of our own destiny."

The Chicago-based startup already has added 53 employees this year, including the Parking Panda acquisition, and headcount tops 200. Lawrence declined to disclose revenue, but he said it doubled last year.

He'll use the cash to expand SpotHero's reach beyond the 50 cities it serves and also to double down on some fast-growing existing markets outside Chicago, such as Toronto, Seattle, Denver and Philadelphia. The company also is building out technology used by its customers, as well as software tools it provides to parking operators.

"The majority of funding is going to tech and market expansion. We've still got a lot of work to do with the integration of Parking Panda," Lawrence said.

SpotHero built a market that connects consumers with parking lot and garage operators. It started out primarily as a way for operators to fill unsold spaces by discounting them, but now it is offering the service as an employee benefit that companies can offer workers.

SpotHero competes primarily with Chicago-based rival ParkWhiz, which also is raising capital.

NEXT STOP: CONNECTED CARS

Both companies have evolved from providing a mobile app and now are trying to make sure they're part of the so-called connected car, in which many of the features and services people now get on their smartphones are incorporated into vehicles.

Lawrence says SpotHero's technology is integrated with 6,000 parking operators already and he's betting "that it ultimately will be in the car."

ParkWhiz's technology is included in Ford's app platform called FordPass. One of SpotHero's investors is AutoTech Ventures, a $120 million Silicon Valley fund that includes several auto-related companies as investors.

Another new investor is Global Founders Capital, a venture fund run by the founders of Rocket Internet, a German company best known for creating overseas knockoffs of U.S. internet companies. Rocket, run by Oliver, Marc and Alexander Samwer, built a Groupon clone, CityDeal, which they sold to Groupon.

Lawrence said SpotHero was introduced to Global Founders by Insight Ventures, which led SpotHero's $20 million investment round two years ago. "They've got a lot of good marketplace experience," he said of the Samwers.

SpotHero's existing investors also include OCA Ventures, Chicago Ventures, Levy Family Partners, Bullpen Capital, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Draper Associates, Sam Yagan, Corazon Capital, Daniel Hoffer and Math Venture Partners.