Appiness is a matter of space

AppyParking_iPhone

AppyParking has just bagged the Pitch to Rich People’s Choice award, and was a recent trender in the App Store – perfect timing before a September relaunch. For Founder and CEO Dan Hubert, those long nights spent digitising London’s city streets have been worth it.

After 13 years working in creative advertising – “problem solving for everyone else” as he puts it – Dan Hubert decided he would tackle one of the capital’s more contentious issues: parking.

“It came out of the frustration,” Dan tells Follow Innovation. “Parking is a product, a commodity – and there’s not an actual shop window available where people can find out information about it.”

Despite working full time in a demanding media role, Hubert spent evenings and weekends digitally, and painstakingly, mapping the Big Smoke’s parking zones.

“I thought this data was digitised,” says Dan, “but I went round London’s councils, and realised nothing was in order, so I sorted them into relevant data sets. Of course, I knew there was a huge gap in the market, but from doing it I now understand why.”

Although he describes the process behind AppyParking as “an unbelievably complex solution to the problem”, Dan Hubert and team have now digitally mapped some 70% of London. For now, the app is contained in the capital, but two dozen towns and cities are ready for September’s national rollout.

Very basically, AppyParking is a filter mechanism which advises users what restrictions, terms, conditions and characteristics they can expect in streets and parking areas.

Whether on-street or off – AppyParking also works with NCP and Q Park – drivers can refine their search to find disabled bays; loading bays; low price bays; long stay bays, or to simply locate the space nearest to their destination. In some cases, the app even advises whether or not the bay’s available.

“Simply put,” says Dan, “if I’m a driver in central London, and I have the app, I can check out where the best options to park are – for my situation and needs – ahead of time.

“There’s no other company that does the whole approach; holistic and agnostic. It doesn’t matter what parking provider or what borough you’re in, you can select what’s right for you.”

Though it was some time in its R&D phase, AppyParking hasn’t taken long to strike a chord in the capital. BETA launch came in April 2013 with a 13-borough MVP and immediately grabbed both attention, and inches in the Evening Standard. Now test phase is ending, relaunch and national rollout is set for early September.

“I didn’t have a business model in mind to be honest,” says Dan, “I was just solving a problem. But I knew that the money would come in the end; the monetary value is huge for consumers and the mobile workforce.”

Natural comparisons arise with JustPark, another parking app which coincidentally also bagged a Pitch to Rich gong. But where JustPark focuses on driveways and rental spaces in commercial lots, Appy is more concerned with assisting the day-to-day of your average city driver.

The company is already comprised of a core staff of six, while 13 freelancers and contractors support in areas such as design and development. There’s an account management resource now too, as Appy serves up its parking and car data to Ford motors; while others look on with interest.

The post-launch phase for Dan Hubert and AppyParking is simple: it’s marketing the national rollout; it’s developing for Android and it’s road mapping international expansion.

It’s also in lining up more clients who are willing to pay top dollar for data – which is so much more than a mere fringe benefit.

“We have spent a lot of time creating this parking platform – and we’re sitting on an unbelievable amount of data,” says Dan. “Our enterprise solution is massively relevant when you think about the autonomous future of smart cities and connected cars – our ground level datasets are fundamental – other datasets don’t know the restrictions of the road the way we do.

“This is our next phase of development. We’ve had some good meetings with Google, and hope to be supplying them with data very soon. It’s going to be pretty vast.”