6 minute read
July 6, 2020
Powering Employee Parking with Garret Flower of ParkOffice
This article originally appeared on www.buildingproptech.com, a retired blog where I interviewed proptech founders on how they were building and growing their businesses.
Hey Garret! What’s your background and what led to you working in PropTech?
I’m a serial entrepreneur. I’ve always had an insatiable desire to solve problems. When I was in secondary school I started my first business selling Pot Noodles in the evening time to fellow boarders whose hunger hadn’t been sated. Things progressed quickly over the years and I grew a successful food business in my early twenties that employed hundreds of people over the years before I sold my share to focus on my new technology venture.
Parking was always one industry that I heard people complain about on a daily basis so I decided to dig into it further. I realised that while there is significant disruption occurring in the traditional car parking industry that employee parking was still very antiquated in how it was managed - this is how ParkOffice was born.
What problem are you working to solve with ParkOffice?
ParkOffice is the parking software for smart offices. We automate and optimize employee parking management for companies. Many companies spend millions on futureproofing their buildings but forget about their other big piece of real estate, parking. Research from the NAIOP 2018 shows the average company has between 700 - 2,100 sq.ft of parking for every 1,000 sq. ft of office space.
This is a massive amount of space which when managed incorrectly leads to overspend, employee dissatisfaction and community congestion.
What’s the process been like as you build ParkOffice?
Like a lot of companies starting out, focus has been key for us. The reason employee parking has changed so little over the last 40 or 50 years is that it can be complex. The variables are vast and the parking culture which has evolved in every company is radically different.
We understood this starting off and knew we needed to build our product working with real estate and mobility experts. Our first two clients were CBRE and Europcar, we intentionally went after clients early doors who would understand our mission and work with us to help build out our product in a way which makes it hugely scaleable.
This now leaves us in an industry leading position with a super powerful product which has been built in collaboration with market experts and has rapidly allowed us to acquire large scale customers.
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How have you gone about growing your user base and revenue? What has been most effective?
Our revenue model is simple, we charge a monthly fee for every parking space we optimize. The great thing about ParkOffice is that our impact is very quantifiable, we provide real-time analytics which provides clients with all the information they need to measure their return on investment. Obviously from client to client their key focuses change but for example if you using ParkOffice to increase parking availability at the office, we can show you exactly how ParkOffice allows 40% more cars to park in the same amount of space.
Equally if you are looking to reduce carbon footprint, ParkOffice can demonstrate clearly how it is helping drivers to take more sustainable forms of transport and the overall impact these choices are having on the local environment.
What has been the hardest part of the building, growing or monetizing ParkOffice?
For us the hardest piece has been growing our client base. We are market leaders in a rapidly growing market but due to the relative infancy of our sector, there is a massive amount of education involved. The average company who recognizes a parking problem doesn't realize that there is software in the market to solve this problem. They generally look to manual management systems such as increasing on-site parking wardens or buying more parking gates and barriers as potential solutions.
Our challenge is probably similar to a lot of proptech operators, we are trying to build awareness of a new, better, cheaper and more effective way of solving an age old problem. However, we are already starting to see encouraging signs that the market is beginning to respond and are increasingly more open to innovation solutions.
What insights about Real Estate and Technology have you come to realize whilst building ParkOffice?
I think PropTech is so broad that it means so many different things to different people. I think as we evolve as a sector we are going to see even more offshoots and for whole subsets of industries sprout up. I feel this will be a massively encourage development for innovators as it will demonstrate the growing demand and understanding of the value technology can provide.