European startup Parklio and a smartphone-controlled parking barrier. The interview.
What would you choose? Every time nervously to look for a parking place, or set your own parking barrier? Did not you know it exists? It was created by European startup Parklio to make your life easier. There is no need to worry about parking place, all you need is a smart parking barrier.
We recently talked to Parklio CEO Dario Boras. There was something you have to know about.
What’s new in the life of Parklio?
Updates to March 2019:
“Everything is going great. We are soon launching second model and introducing some new cool features, also we are negotiating about the second round of investment”.
What is Parklio?
Parklio is a solar powered and smartphone-controlled parking barrier which prevents unauthorized parking and enables key sharing among the users.
When and how did you get the idea to create such a project?
It was 3 years ago, we were presenting our IoT solutions at a hospitality fair. We wanted to expand our product portfolio for that fair and ordered chinese remote controlled barrier from ebay.
We placed wifi chip in it and made an app which controls the barrier night before the fair with no expectations. When we presented it, it was the biggest hit on the fair, we knew we had something big so we started exploring the market and noticed that there is nothing similar to it.
And today we are here with Parklio.
Why did you choose this direction for a startup?
Well, I think it all happened naturally. We had an idea, made the product which is highly scalable and things just took of from there…
Do you have any worthy competitors, and how do you deal with them?
Yes, I think nowadays we all have competition. There are remote controlled barriers on the market for couple of years now, but we are the only one which is smartphone controlled and enables key sharing using the mobile app or web interface.
What are your competitive advantages? What helps you to maintain a strong position in the market?
It will always be the quality and customer support. We spent enormous amount on testing the product so that we can provide quality piece of hardware together with user friendly and intuitive mobile app.
Besides the product itself our constant focus is on the customer, we are always trying to find the new ways to satisfy their needs with the project. We are always listening to the market feedback and implementing new features.
Are there any weaknesses in your product in your opinion? If yes, what kind?
I will leave this answer for our next interview when we will place the second model of Parklio on the market)
Is this the first your startup or did you have others previously? What are these projects and on what stages they are?
Yes, this is my first startup.
If you do not mind my asking, what was the investment amount for project creation and initial promotion? Was it an investor’s money or your personal savings? If it was an investor’s help, could you tell us how you found him?
For the MVP we have invested our personal money (around 25.000,00€) before the seed investment. When I say we I mean on other founders (Marko Smoljo, Karlo Gašpar and Josip Labrović).
The most significant financial boost was our seed investment of 200.000,00€ and it came from Angel investors from Slovakia who are not only our investors but strategic partners and actively contribute in product development. We won lot of prizes with our project, they have noticed us and we presented them the idea and it was love on first sight which lasts until today.
What experts were indispensable at the stage of creating and launching a project?
When you are in the startup business, especially in early stages you need to be jack of all trades and learn constantly. With right approach nothing is indispensable but IT knowledge was fundamental to get things starting. I can remember first Parklio units that we places on the market, we were programming during the day and welding metal parts during the night in order to meet the deadlines. You can image that our keyboards had lot of grease and dirt ????
Who are your customers? What kind of requests do they make?
Currently we are presented in 12 European countries. Our target market is Europe with emphasis on Germany, UK and France. Our customers are really diverse and that includes universities, cities, municipalities, hotels, buildings with parking lots and natural persons. They all have different use case scenarios and we always try to adjust the app to first all of their needs.
What were the challenges during the launch the project and how did you cope with them?
The biggest challenge was to establish a serial production of metal parts for the product. We were all experienced in software and hardware development but metal processing was something completely new and something that we had to learn. We learned from our mistakes (there was plenty of them :)) and just kept pushing on.
Hardware is much more complicated and much much more expensive than the software. If you make an error in software you just make and update and all is solved but in hardware once the product is on the market it needs to be perfect!
What are the most effective approaches for your product promotion?
So far I would say it is our website and Facebook ads. One important detail is that this is a physical product so when somebody sees it at their neighbour place they want to have it. Product itself is like a marketing material.
How to start promoting a young project in your opinion?
Attend events and competitions, analyze the audience and adjust the pitching to it. If you are a hospitality startup attend hospitality events, if you are a hardware startup attend hardware events etc. Networking is super important, don’t isolate yourself from the rest of the world by developing the product. Get out there and show what you have.
What of your knowledge and skills were useful while launching the project?
The most important are communication skills.
Would you recommend to startuppers to subscribe for the pages of any Internet communities able to provide them with some helpful information? Which ones?
Absolutely! It really depends on the industry in which startup is active. It would be irresponsible from my side to state any by name because what is good for me and my startup isn’t always the best option for someone else.
If I have to name someone it would be Bolt for hardware startups.
If there were no Parklio, what another project would you develop?
My focus is only on Parklio and I see no other project besides it ????
How do you see further development of your project?
Adding new features, merging with other companies and penetrating new markets.
What is the most valuable business advice you’ve ever received?
Always listen to others, but at the end of the day do what you think is the best!