2018 Rising Star Winner: Parkable
L-R Timothy Wixon (BNZ Head of Tech Industry), Toby Littin (Parkable CEO), Brody Nelson (Parkable Technology Director), Andrew Boivin (Deloitte Private Partner)
With the Fast 50 Rising Star award, we identify the businesses with bright futures who are already making a significant impact in their respective markets. Taking the crown this year was parking app company, Parkable, a digital solution to Auckland’s congested spaces. With over 40,000 users and growing, they offer users the chance to monetise their unused spaces or hire those spaces to park.
After their win at the Fast 50 Festival of Growth, we spoke to CEO Toby Littin to discuss Parkable’s success and his priorities for a fantastic business.
Well done on your award! How you feel about Parkable being named the Fast 50 National Rising Star winner?
Fantastic! We're super proud of the team and very, very happy about it. It's awesome!
How will you celebrate with your team?
We'll get the whole team together and probably put on a bit of a party. We’ve got a place for the award in the office too - it's right in front of the entry door, so you can't miss it as soon as you walk in. We've even made a special place on the shelf for it.
Why do you think Parkable has seen the growth that it has?
We're very lucky to have a strong team and we've got some world-class individuals joining from across all disciplines, from development and R&D, to marketing, sales and leadership. I think when you surround yourself with amazing people, you can't help but have good results, especially when everyone is aligned on the same vision and pulling in the same direction. We work really hard on our culture and values, which means everyone tends to align really well and has a really good time working together.
What was the original motivating factor for starting the company?
Parking sucks! The founding team were all aligned on that and wanted to find a better way. There's so much underutilised real estate, CBD congestion, and people driving around looking for a park. We know that it's terrible for the environment and decided to find a way to get these cars off the road.
The availability of space and the cost of parking also means that there's huge inefficiencies in the parking system, which is built around enforcement and prohibition through towing. We think that in this age, where people are more used to shared use rather than ownership (and we've seen that in the popularity of Lime Scooters, Uber and Airbnb), the sentiment has shifted. We felt like that shared approach could extend to parking.
Are there any lessons that you've learned, that you would share with other entrepreneurs?
Hire slow, and fire fast if you can! I think that to pick your people carefully would be the single biggest lesson for us. Lesson number two is that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. We get so much amazing help from the people around us and we're so grateful for it.
What do you see for the future of Parkable?
We're all about making parking available and easy, and that’s our vision for the business. Also, as we move into a world of autonomous vehicles, Parkable is built to accommodate that future. For example, we're really interested about what happens to an autonomous vehicle when it needs recharging or tyres changed, so we're working really hard with our R&D team to deliver connected vehicle functionality.
We’re looking at international growth too. While it's great to talk about the future state, there's still a very large parking market and structural issues around that market globally. We're really keen to take on the world and continue to stretch into other geographic markets.
How did you first hear about the Fast 50?
I've known about the Fast 50 for a long time, but we became interested when businesses that we idolised, like Pushpay and Trade Me, started winning places on the index. They’re amazing businesses that we aspire to be like one day and we do feel blessed to be following in the footsteps of giants.
How would you describe this year’s Fast 50 experience and the Festival of Growth?
Myself and my colleague Brody [Nelson, co-founder and Technology Director] took a lot out of the day. Almost without fail, every speaker spoke about the importance of surrounding yourself with good people, and when you reflect on the fact that these speakers are from New Zealand's fastest-growing businesses, you've got to take notice. Also, you can place a huge amount of trust and credibility in the speakers, because you know that these guys are actually walking the walk. That makes the Festival of Growth that much more valuable.
Jen Scouler works in the Deloitte clients & marketing team across digital content and social media. She also works closely with Deloitte Private.