The Parking Panda App is an online reservation tool that takes the stress, hassle and worry out of parking.
Here is our interview with Parking Panda co-founder and CEO, Nicholas Miller. Learn how attending a Baltimore Raven’s game sparked the idea that is revolutionizing the parking industry.
What is your company’s mission?
Parking Panda’s goal is to revolutionize the parking industry. Today, parking is a last minute annoyance. Drivers have to circle the block looking for an empty lot and when they find one they have to just hope the price is reasonable. With Parking Panda, drivers can find parking and reserve a space in advance. Now they know exactly where to go, what they will pay, and that there is a guaranteed space waiting for them. Parking managers also benefit. They no longer need to rely on an attendant with a flag to wave down new business. By selling online they are able to leverage the distribution of Parking Panda to generate new business and optimize their pricing and yield.
How did you get the idea for your company?
The idea for Parking Panda came from personal experience. I would drive to Baltimore Raven’s football games and it was so difficult to park that there would be people standing outside selling space in their driveway with a cardboard sign. It made me realize that there had to be a more efficient way to find and guarantee parking.
What has been your biggest "aha" moment since founding your company?
I can't say there has been a single major "aha" moment. In the three years since starting Parking Panda, I've learned so much that I think each little pivot and adjustment in both the way Parking Panda operates and the way I run the business have added up to something meaningful. Rather then one big moment, it has been a collection of many small refinements.
Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding?
Parking Panda has raised $4.7M to date. We’re not currently looking for funding, but may raise additional capital in the future to fuel accelerated growth.
How many employees do you have? How many of them are developers?
20 employees. 4 developers.
What Microsoft technologies that you are using in conjunction with the development of your application?
Microsoft SQL Server, C#, MVC, WCF, Visual Studio, ASP.net, Windows Servers
Do you build for scale first, or for revenue? How are those things related in your mind?
This question depends heavily on your specific business. Parking Panda isn’t driven purely by scale (i.e. a social platform like Twitter), but it also isn’t driven entirely by generating revenue. In our case, because our business is transactional, scale means more revenue. This is especially meaningful for us because our revenue on each transaction is relatively small. Parking Panda realizes its full potential both in terms of what it offers to customers and for revenue when it is at a very large scale.
How much of what you are building is based on leaving a legacy vs technical challenges vs making something just for fun?
At Parking Panda, every employee genuinely believes that we have the ability to shift the way a $30B+ industry operates at its very core. If we can successfully execute on our vision, Parking Panda will be around for many years (and maybe decades) to come. It will touch every piece of parking from consumer discovery and payment to management, business intelligence and accounting.
What are some of the challenges you face as a founder or developer at a startup, when it comes to dealing with family or social life?
As a founder, the most challenging thing socially is that the stresses and pressures you face on a daily basis are unique from most other people. Of course, everyone faces stress in their lives, but the pressure of things like making payroll when dozens of people depend on you or questioning if you might be wasting millions of dollars are quite unique to a startup.
Do you have any advice for young startups?
Find and hire people that are as passionate about your business as you are. At the end of the day, no matter how good your business model, it is your team that will decide whether you succeed or fail. Only people who truly believe in your vision and have the same passion as you will make you successful.
What do you think of the BizSpark Program?
BizSpark has been very helpful in developing our company in both engineering (SQL, Visual Studio, etc.) and across the business. When every dime is important, it is great to know that a large company like Microsoft appreciates those challenges.
Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software?
Experience. Microsoft has had decades of experience with scaling multiple businesses and teams as well as helping other startups scale and grow. It is that experience that makes Microsoft a valuable partner.
Parking Panda is an online reservation tool for parking.