How this IIT Madras alumnus found a way around speed bumps to ‘Get (my) Parking’ across the world
IoT-driven platform Get My Parking helps users search and navigate to the nearest available parking lot, or even reserve a spot. However, working with governments proved to be tough, until they found a way around it.
Parking woes are universal, no matter which city you're in the world over. So, when IIT Madras alumni Chirag Jain and Rasik Pansare an MBA from FMS, Delhi, met 2012 at Jagriti Yatra. They came together to make it easy to find a parking spot, they believed they would be able solve this pain point forever and started Get My Parking in 2015.
Their solution, Get My Parking, is a mobile app that allows users to search and navigate to the nearest parking lot. It provides advanced parking analytics solutions that can help organise the largely unorganised industry. It also offers solutions for parking contractors (enterprise solutions), governments (smart city), infrastructure partners (platform integration), and consumers (mobile apps).
Four years since starting up, and despite having a strong market, the going was anything but great. And this after three rounds of funding - Angel funding of Rs 2.5 crore (January 2016), pre-Series A funding of Rs 7.35 crore (January 2017) and Series A Funding of Rs 19.2 crore (October 2017).
No room for startups?
“While the problem (of parking) is big, policymakers are not taking steps to introduce technology, and policies and regulations are slow to catch up,” says Chirag.
He adds that while there are multiple benefits the company can avail of as a startup, the main problem is working with different state governments and civic bodies. “Convincing government authorities about our expertise as a vendor has been difficult, as they don’t typically allow young companies to participate.”
While startups are willing to work with governments, says Chirag, his experience has been that government bodies are not yet very open to working with startups.
So, while governments pondered over the next steps, Get My Parking decided to look for greener pastures - overseas.
Chirag and Rashik entered into a strategic partnership with Germany-based APCOA Parking, a leading parking operator with operations in 13 countries, to deploy their IoT platform.
Get My Parking is now helping APCOA digitise and manage parking tickets. This in turn will help the operator control and analyse the usage of parking space. The app easily integrates with any access control hardware for an end-to-end mobile-based parking management system with very little upfront investment.
With APCOA, the startup now plans to scale its digital platform to touch over 1.4 million parking slots across more than 9,000 locations. Get My Parking’s solution also allows a user to reserve a parking slot and offers ticketless automated access and cashless exit.
Philippe Op de Beeck, CEO of APCOA Parking Group, says the partnership enables them to develop a digital platform and new products quickly and effectively.
“Get My Parking technology works with existing barrier technologies in older car parks, eliminating the need to purchase a new parking system. And the digital platform’s enhanced compatibility means that we can launch many new services and partnerships in the near future.”
Back in India, the parking process remains painfully manual, says Chirag, and when the founders showed local contractors their solution, many called it “magic"!
Despite the amazement it evoked, the founders still had to convince contractors – more so as it is a paid service for them, and the contractors simply didn’t trust a young startup.
“Initially, we faced hurdles in terms of gaining trust of parking operators and then proving the value of digitisation. The clients we worked with had never interfaced with modern technology applied for their use cases, which created a bias in their perception. But through persistence and ingenuity, our team made them ardent advocates of the impact of our technology,” says Chirag.
While the Get My Parking app is free for individuals, the company charges a licence fee from contractors for its usage and also for hardware installation. The founders declined to share details about the fee they charge.
For a consumer, Get My Parking can offer real-time availability of slots and even reserve one if the parking lot permits it. For infrastructure partners, it offers citywide macro-level data on where, when, and how many vehicles are being parked.
It also offers real-time analytics to help policy-making, and government agencies can get access to digital tools for policy enforcement and tracking violations. Smart cities can have end-to-end parking technology integrated with the city's dashboard, integrated with sensors, smart cards, and m-wallets.
The market and future
The market opportunity for parking is estimated to be over $100 billion globally, and $5 billion in India alone. Get My Parking competes with Indian players like Pparke, Parking4Sure and Parkwheels, among others. Globally, the brand is locking horns with brands like Parkopedia, SpotHero, Appyparking, Parker, JustPark, and Easypark.
Speaking on their investment in the space, Sudhir Rao, Managing Partner of IndusAge Partners, said,
“The opportunity to provide everyday value to an automobile owner with friction-free parking is being delivered by Get My Parking. The team has demonstrated its deep focus in scaling up to over two million tickets a month. Their technology platform, which triangulates digitisation, integration, and automation at the parking lot with the consumer to manage demand and payments has a global market.”
The solution has so far only been implemented in malls or shopping centres in India, and the company claims to process about 80,000 transactions daily and over 2 million transactions per month. On the international front, it claims to serve more than 300 parking lots in Germany and has pilots running in Taiwan, the Middle East, and Indonesia.
“Our vision is to make parking a subconscious experience. We are doing that by digitising parking, globally. And yes, we are on track to achieve it. It’s not even been three years, so we are just getting started," says Chirag.