Parkbob was launched four years ago with an app for motorists looking for parking space in Vienna. Within a short period of time, the start-up company expanded its services even further. Today, it is an expert in digital transport services and cooperates with Shared Mobility providers worldwide.
Four years after its establishment, a parking assistant service has already been integrated into Amazon’s voice control system. Now it is Alexa who is providing drivers with information about available parking spaces and parking fees. Soon Parkbob will also be available for other navigational devices and in-car systems. This service is always free of charge for customers. The real profit area is in the B2B sector, specifically in the mobility and automotive sectors.
Several factors led to the rapid growth of Parkbob: the decisive factors, however, were venture capital finance, expansion into the USA and diversification. Today, Parkbob covers a total of sixty cities all over the world. The collaborative partner is Reach Now at BMW/Daimler.
Interview with founder Christian Adelsberger:
How would you summarize Parkbob’s business activities?
We started with Parking on the Street four years ago, but are now doing much more than that. The way in which urban space is used plays a major role here. It’s about the finishing touches. We support companies in the mobility and automotive sectors in the digitization of all mobility processes – on three levels. We digitize …
- … urban space; cities do have geodata, but not everything they need.
- … the rules of usage which apply to urban space. Approximately sixty percent of parking space is regulated.
- … consumer behaviour, in order to make the service available where there is actual demand. By doing this we are helping shared mobility providers to distribute their vehicles in such a way that they are able to meet the demand. Usually these vehicles are distributed on a random basis. We are showing how they should be distributed in order to meet demands.
Soon, we will be giving ourselves a new name that will be both more generic and more general – one that is synonymous with city life and mobility.
How did you come up with Parkbob?
It was from personal experience, as in frustration about how parking is done in the city. I once searched for forty minutes for a parking spot after a long drive with my family. At the time I thought, “This should be better!” After some thought, I realized that it was actually just due to a lack of information. That was what sparked this all off in the first place.
I am a graduate in business management, I studied in Innsbruck and then spent a long time in London, Seattle and Berlin. That’s where I quickly ended up in the start-up sector and the dynamism there suits my character. I have worked in various industries that were affected by digitization thanks to the financial services sector. Back then it was already clear that not only services, but also structures were going to change. In the area of mobility, it was obvious to me that the sector would be so badly shaken by the digital revolution that the upheaval would certainly last for at least another twenty years.
What motivates you? What problem do you solve and why is that so important?
My aim is to build something major that is really successful, and that has the look of a corporate enterprise. It is about creating something that has a positive influence on people. The problem we solve with Parkbob is the inefficiency that exists in urban mobility. About twenty percent of the traffic problems in inner-city traffic are caused by parking problems.
What was the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome? Was there a moment when you wanted to give up?
In my experience, obstacles tend to become bigger the more successful you become – in part because your own expectations become increasingly higher. The first obstacle already surfaced in the start-up phase, when I learned that the technician who was with me during the conceptual stage did not want to be involved. As a start-up, you have to be aware from the outset that you will be exposed to risk for years to come.
Later on, it wasn’t such an obvious move to expand into the USA. On an international level, it is not that easy to be perceived as an Austrian company. But we handled that very well. We’ll be making most of our sales in North America in 2019.
How did the expansion into the USA happen?
We mainly work with international companies in our customer sector. Which basically means we also have to provide international coverage if we want to be interesting. I was also motivated by my personal track record. I gained my first professional work experiences abroad, in London, Seattle and Berlin.
What have been the most memorable moments so far? What achievements are you really proud of?
We started from scratch. In the beginning, we had an office space of thirteen square meters and just half of a staff member. When the initial funding came, the first employees came – mostly directly from the university. It was great to see how quickly our employees developed into experts in their field, often within a short period of time.
What can we expect from you in the coming year?
We will be concentrating our R&D work on the USA and bringing a lot of it back to Europe. In particular, we want to bring the success of car and scooter sharing back into Europe. We will be entering into and expanding partnerships in order to achieve this.
Where would you like your company to be in five years – what is your ultimate goal?
In five years time, the company aims to become an established global player that will make a significant contribution towards giving more people access to affordable mobility.
What makes your innovation better or different than existing ones?
Due to the limited resources we had as a small start-up, we began using scalable methods and technologies early on, such as artificial intelligence, data science and machine learning.