Parking is a nightmare. Different cities have different rules about when and where you can park and if you’re travelling to an unfamiliar area you may accidentally attract a fine.
That’s what drove Dan Hubert to create AppyParking – a business focussed on helping people understand where and when they can legally park.
The idea sounds straightforward, but the genesis of the business was anything but simple. At least in the early days.
Although Dan was convinced the idea would find an audience, local councils, whose buy-in he would need, weren’t easy to win over.
“Parking relies heavily on relationships and partnerships, and these were started at the beginning. It is all about aggregation of data – a lot of running around in my lunch times to see whether there was any value in the idea. To be honest, at the beginning, the councils really didn’t get it and didn’t see its potential and what it was able to solve,” Dan said.
Faced with this stumbling block, Dan realised he needed to come up with a proof of concept to win over doubters. He did this by building a scaled down version of his idea.
“I started to draw the controlled parking zones. I had this in a minimal product to show councils what we could do. After this I met Henrik, my co-founder, and we worked the data into our first application. This was called ‘Yellow Line Parking.’ Essentially it told you if you could park on a single ‘yellow line’ or not in areas.”
It worked. Once sceptical councils were won over by a simple, practical demonstration of what Dan and Henrik were trying to do.
From that minimum viable product has grown the full AppyParking app and, alongside that, a website registered with 123 Reg.
Although the data on the website and app is the same, the two products serve different purposes.
“The data is shown on both in exactly the same way. We have done a lot of work in UX/UI to make sure that the two work well together,” Dan explained.
“Whilst working together, we know that a user’s journey will be different on the two. We know that our website will be more of the market place where online transactions will take place and the app will be used by users who want to find a parking solution right away – a Google maps for parking.”
So what advice does Dan have for those looking to launch their own business? Well, despite having to deal with a different challenge each day – whether it’s a legal issue or an investment issue, he recommends people don’t research how much time they’ll spend on running their business, just in case it’s off putting.
“You will need to give up your life. But go all in – you are there to solve a problem that is what it is about. Think about where you aspire to be and go all in. Be very focused. Think in stepping stones and have an ultimate goal.”
Dan also pointed out that many people who start a business don’t realise registering a domain name will put their name and address in the public domain, unless they buy WhoIs Privacy.
“When you first start out, many people don’t think that people will dig a little deeper. However, they will, and the privacy adds this layer of protection which is comforting, especially for those working from their own homes,” Dan said.
“For such a small amount of money it makes sense to buy it.”
You can get Domain Privacy from 123 Reg here.
Despite all the challenges Dan has faced while running AppyParking, he’s certain that it has been a rewarding and AppyParking’s success was underlined when it won the People’s Choice Award in the 2015 VOOM competition.
“This gave us an incredible amount of exposure and £50,000 marketing budget on top which was brilliant. The PC award is a public vote. We spread the word across 2 months and we won,” Dan said.
“We now have the confidence when we meet people. People take us more seriously which is massive.”