Sam Friedman is the CEO & Founder of Park Me, a free parking app that makes it easy for people to find the closest and cheapest parking in nearby areas. This app currently serves over 26,000 parking locations across 500+ cities, 29 countries. Based in Santa Monica, CA – Sam and his team are creating a database that we all can benefit from.
Herby: Tell us a little bit about your background and the start-up story behind Park Me.
Sam: ParkMe was co-founded by myself and Alex Israel in 2009 (out of my garage, of course) in Santa Monica, CA. After being late to one too many meetings due to the frustration of dealing with parking, I became extremely fed up. We began reaching out to cities and private operators about parking information, and started to thoroughly study the industry. Ultimately, Alex and myself realized that drivers had no verifiable, real-time parking information, and felt that the industry needed to be brought online.
Herby: What are some of the projects you are working on right now?
Sam: We’ve just recently launched our real-time parking heat map in Austin, TX. Our app can tell locals about meter availability as well as lot and garage occupancy. We’ve worked directly with the City of Austin to help reduce congestion during its population boom.
Herby: Do you or have you owned any other businesses in the past, if so what happen to them?
Sam: ParkMe is the first business either of us has started. Our company is mostly made up of people in their 20’s and 30’s, and a lot of us are going down this road for the first time together. It’s exciting.
Herby: How many people are currently using this platform and how do you plan to keep growing?
Sam: We have close to 70,000 downloads, but many more drivers are using our platform as a result of our licensing deals with major navigation companies like TomTom and TeleAtlas. Soon we’ll be able to stream live ParkMe data directly into cars.
Herby: What is one thing you know now that you wish you knew before Launching this platform?
Sam: It shouldn’t always be about raising money. If more of your focus is on the product then the money will find you.
Herby: Starting out what the worst mistake you made as an entrepreneur, and what did you learn from it?
Sam: Try not to take on too much at once. Starting out, there were only a few of us working to build our company and we wanted to get from point A to B as fast as possible. Take time to learn about your industry/competitors, and don’t rush anything. Give your idea time to grow.
Herby: What is one thing that you do on a daily basis to grow as an entrepreneur?
Sam: Every day at 6 o’clock the whole company gathers to not only give departmental updates, but also share thoughts about how things are generally flowing. We like to encourage an open environment where people can feel comfortable speaking freely.
Herby: How is running a tech company different than what you thought it would be?
Sam: It’s different because we’ve only seen examples of how other types of tech companies are run. We are creating our own path here at ParkMe. The company culture plays off our personalities, and we like to work hard but also have a good time in the process.
Herby: What 3 advice would you offer prospective founders about knowing when they have an idea worth making a leap for?
Sam: Don’t worry about the long-term business plan, create an informational deck and the finances needed. If you’re product is good, investors will find you. Also, don’t be afraid to fail a few times before getting it right. And in a new business, you’re only as successful as the people around you.
Herby: What is your definition of success?
Sam: Building a company that’s helping people improve a necessary daily function like parking. And 1A would be being able to provide jobs to qualified individuals from our community.
Herby: What is your favorite success quote?
Sam: “In a startup, don’t be afraid to try new things. And be sure to learn from mistakes as much as possible”
Herby: How can our community get in touch with you?
Sam: Please check out our blog for all our latest news. If you’d like to get in touch with us, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you right away!
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