Categorized | Shoestring Startup

Got Parking?

Got Parking? Name of your company and URL?

Our company name is ParkingEdge, LLC and our Website is http://www.bestparking.com/

Date started?

In business since 2006, we work with the nation’s largest operators and dozens of on-the-ground surveyors to assemble highly accurate parking data.

What is your product or service?

BestParking.com (formerly NYCGarages.com) is a parking search engine that steers drivers towards the cheapest and most convenient parking facilities in 43 cities and 79 airports throughoutNorth America. Over 250,000 motorists rely on our website and mobile apps each month to easily compare the hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly rates at over 7,000 parking facilities, thereby saving hundreds of dollars on parking. We constantly update our detailed parking information and have the most accurate and extensive database on parking.

BestParking’s unique rate-calculation engine provides motorists with a service they cannot find using any other resource. After a simple entry of the time for a planned visit, we instantly display a precise rate for each parking location in the selected city. A quick glance at our parking map reveals the full range of parking options, from the cheapest to the most expensive facilities.

Why did you start your company?

I started the company at age 16 (I’m now 23). The start-up was inspired by an episode of Seinfeld in which George refuses to pay for parking. I hopped on my fold-up bicycle and surveyed every single street inManhattan(our pilot city), snapping photographs of all rate signs and entrances.

Finding on-street parking space can be quite a challenge in cities. If you’re staying for a prolonged period, you need to worry about re-feeding the meter and moving your vehicle to comply with street sweeping regulations. Though there are off-street commercial parking facilities, many charge an arm and a leg for parking. Here at BestParking.com we help you find what our name states and that there are numerous needles in the haystack with great deals.

Was your company funded with venture capital?

I received funding, but not from venture capitalists. VC firms are typically reluctant to invest in early stage start-ups, and if they do, they tend to take a higher percentage than angel investors.

What free online or offline tools do you use?

BestParking’s switch from Microsoft Office to Google Docs and Spreadsheets for our internal communication has been a boon to productivity. For example, each member of our team has a shared “To-Do” list that anyone else can comment on. Although other services exist for project management (e.g., Huddle.com), Google Docs and Spreadsheets don’t require nearly as much employee training. Just be sure to back-up all documents on a regular basis. It’s probably best not to include bank account information in the cloud.

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How many people are currently working, including employees (freelancers or independent contractors for specific projects)?

We’ve since expanded our team to 10 full-time and 30 part-time employees.

What is the best advice you never got?

Build something that you and at least five of your friends or family would actually use. If only you think an idea is worthwhile, be careful before investing in it.

What almost killed your business in the start?

Initially, my biggest challenge was drafting all the programming specifications up-front, so that I could outsource development work. Nevertheless, the first programming team I hired failed to deliver, in part because my own specification wasn’t refined enough. Yet, I learned from my mistakes, and BestParking (then NYCGarages.com) launched the following year.

What is the one thing that you did right?

I failed at my first venture, ezdtrade.com. Rather, I was unable to market it. But, instead of sticking with an idea that wouldn’t succeed, I focused all my effort on BestParking.com.

What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?

As you now know, I started BestParking while at school, and I had to manage my time between work and study. I spent at least 4 hours on the business each day during the school week. I worked additional hours on weekends and during the summer months. I took on fewer credits to achieve a good balance and still had time to socialize.

Are you currently in the black or red?

We are in the black.

What would make your business more “Successful”?

Focus my efforts better to take more calculated risks.

Would you want to be acquired by a bigger company, run it yourself or sell in a couple of years?

I’m going to see this idea through completion. It will either succeed or fail.

What advice do you offer to other people interested in starting their own companies?

Spend money only as needed. The longer the initial nest-egg lasts, the more leverage you’ll have with VCs further down the road. Burning through hundreds of thousands each year without revenue to support it sends a message to VCs that you’re fiscally irresponsible.

What answer will you give should a Young Entrepreneur ask for advise in setting up his/her first business?

If it’s an online business, spend the few hundred bucks on a good domain name.

And a cliché – if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

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