Briefly introduce yourself, what is the nature of your business?

I am Palesa Moloi, the CEO and co-founder of ParkUpp working together with my co-founder, Michael Savvides and our dev team, Thabang Sithole and Jabulani Kunene – ParkUpp is a parking marketplace that connects property owners who have empty parking spaces to drivers who need parking on a monthly and daily basis.

We take a 15% commission off every booked parking. The benefit of using our platform is that drivers can conveniently find safe, secure and affordable parking at a click of a button while saving up to 50% on their parking costs and owners can generate income from their empty parking.

What inspired the launch of your business?

I experienced the problem first hand while I was auditing a client during my articles. The building I was auditing from did not have enough parking so I had to struggle to find safe and secure parking elsewhere. I didn’t want to park on the street because I am a safety-conscious person but looking for parking was quite a mission and I wondered if there was a way to hack the system.

The initial idea wasn’t what we are doing now however, we started off with a different business model and pivoted along the way. The problem we are now solving is that: property owners sit with 40% empty parking spaces on average, while drivers who are usually parked on street paying a fortune to park there, exposing their cars to potential theft or damage and also wasting time circling around the block looking for parking.

How did you know there was a market for it?

The initial idea was full of high barriers to entry, we didn’t do thorough research and we paid school fees for it. We then observed that there were empty parking spaces while people parked on the road and wondered why this was the case and started doing research.

We found that people who had empty parking were already advertising on other sites (which were not solely focused on parking) or the street boards to let people know they can park in their space, we then knew we were on to something.

How did you raise startup capital?

We raised some angel investment from Dr Sedise Moseneke and his family business, Encha Green Brands – a few of our friends also invested small pockets of cash to keep the vision alive. We are currently in the process of raising $400k for an 18-month product-market fit runway to further develop our website into an app for a seamless experience, invest in marketing and hire more staff.

Describe your business model and how you make money?

Our business model is very simple: how it works is that property owners list their parking through a four-step listing process to include details such as rate of parking, pictures, access controls and locations, drivers then browse through listings and continue to make a booking by indicating dates, number of bays and payment. The owner then accepts the booking and contacts driver for access. We then take a 15% commission off every booked parking.

What challenges has the business faced and how did it overcome them?

We faced challenges with developing our Minimum Viable Product quick enough due to lack of capacity within the team. We are still encountering problems with the performance of the site however we are managing it very well by making sure that we detect every bug with test code. Getting listings and people to book was a struggle however we’ve found customer acquisition strategies that are surprising us in terms of the revenue we are currently generating. 

What was the business’s first big breakthrough?

When we launched in May, our first listing and first unsolicited booking on the website. We sat one day with the site being live, a few listings on the platform, then boom someone booked and paid online, we were like kids who just got sweets, hahaha. Every entrepreneur dreams to run a company with paying customers that was a sweet moment for us.

What online tools/apps is business using daily?

We use Trello to communicate internally, Skype for our daily calls since everyone is based in different locations, we are a purely online platform with no office space etc. We also use google analytics to check how many people interact with our website and currently looking at some resources for our SEO.

What marketing strategy has proven profitable for your business?

ONLINE!! All our bookings have been organic, except the ones through the partnerships we have. Hence we invest in our online paid ads.

What remains a challenge for your business today?

Capacity, most of our team members are still part-time, hence we need to raise funds. Hopefully, the increase in sales will help us pay salaries if we don’t raise funds soon.

Please share your business website and social media links…

Author Muzi Mohale

Welcome to where I showcase small beginnings to inspire the next entrepreneur in you. It's a journey worth tapping into, many life lessons get to be experienced, money made and money lost...You're welcome to share your entrepreneurship journey with my audience.

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