ParkMe Will Help Park You Fast And Cheap
When I lived in New York City I would often choose to take the one hour subway ride back home–crushed between the guy eating a Filet-O-Fish and the lady who smelled like pee and was talking to herself–rather than taking the company car when it was offered. Why would I put myself through this, you ask? The answer is simple: parking.
If you’ve ever tried to park in a major city, you know the blind-rage inducing process of circling and circling until you’re ready to drive up over the curb, straight into a storefront, and declare that your spot for the day. Sam Friedman, co-founder and CEO of ParkMe, can totally relate and he just might have the answer for you.
Currently only operating in the US, Canada, and parts of Europe, but looking to conquer the world, ParkMe guides users to available (free or cheap!) parking spaces in their city. Through a partnership with Parkeon, they’ve figured out ways to gather data about where, how long and when people park. Their system allows drivers to reduce their carbon footprints and avoid stress-induced aneurysms. Badass, right?
What time do you usually start work each day? Do you have an office or work at home?
The nature of a startup pretty much keeps me on call at all hours. I work mainly from our Third Street Promenade office, but do a lot from home as well. My team will often get emails from me in the middle of the night, if I’m getting new information from overseas. I frequently have calls with people internationally, which makes for some pretty early Skype meetings.
What’s the first thing you do when you leave the office at the end of the day?
Well, I actually live just a few blocks away from the office and bike to work every day. I bike to work, after leaving work I take a cruise along the beautiful Santa Monica bluffs to clear my head. Depending on how long the day has been, I’ll either go back to my home office or join the Silicon Beach startup community for one of the many weekly events that take place.
When do your best ideas come to you? In bed in the morning? During dinner? After working for 16 hours? While out jogging? On your third beer?
(Laughs) Well, we definitely like to let loose at ParkMe and encourage our employees to hang out together in a social setting. Undoubtedly, great ideas will stem from after work hours activities. I’m usually inspired late in the evening out of the bustling office environment, when I have a few moments to myself. Mostly, however, I draw inspiration from people like my co-founder, Alex Israel, and the other great folks in our office.
We want to know about where you spend your day! What’s on your desk right now?
At the moment my desk is covered in phone numbers and resumes of potential hirees. I travel a bunch, and a lot of the times it’s occupied by one of my coworkers or one of our interns. I also maintain a “mobile desk,” whether that’s in my car zipping from Santa Monica to Downtown; or in an airplane prepping for a meeting.
Favorite book? Author?
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually put your life on hold and realize yours?
It all started with being fed up after arriving late to a meeting due to the exhausting search for a parking space. This has been an L.A. problem for years, and the situation seemed to be deteriorating as more people moved here. I realized that the whole process needed an overhaul, and parking itself was lacking an interconnected, technological aspect. We looked around, and the competition was minimal, so we took a stab at helping people park smarter through better access to data. So far, so good.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get their business off the ground?
Here’s a nice cliché for you, but it’s true. Don’t be afraid of failure. Stand by your product or idea, and see it through. People will repeatedly tell you an idea is silly or stupid, and if I listened to all those people I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Who has been your biggest cheerleader throughout this process?
The sappy answer would be my family, which is entirely true. They’ve supported this endeavor since day one. And my co-founder Alex, of course, who has stuck with me through the many verbal (and physical) confrontations we’ve occasionally had.
3 people you recommend we follow on Twitter, and why?
I’d say definitely Robert Scoble. He’s usually out in front of any big tech product/news that’s coming out. Also, MG Siegler not only puts forth very interesting news of the day, his sense of humor is what keeps me going back.
Alex and I recently did a segment for Jesse Draper’s “The Valley Girl.” She’s very connected and in tune with the tech community and knows how to keep things light and fun. And of course, the parking guru himself Donald Shoup. I am proud to say that I am a “Shoupista.”
We also love to know the fact and figures. Care to Share?
I can’t fully disclose funding and revenue details, but in the last year we’ve changed our name (formerly Parking In Motion), hired several new employees, and moved to a beautiful new office in downtown Santa Monica. Our investors (Fontinalis Ventures and IDG) are two of the most respected firms in backing mobile and new transportation technology. We are very pleased with how far we’ve come.
What do you wish I had asked you?
Well, you could have asked if I was a history buff and an active member of the Civil War Reenactment society of America. But you didn’t. So I guess you’ll never know.
Where can our readers get a hold of you?