Bicycle theft is a $350 million problem in the United States. This equates to a $400 bicycle stolen every 30 seconds. The solution: Parkent Cycles. They have created a bike rack that “hugs” your bicycle by locking the wheel and the frame. It is activated using a phone, smart card, or kiosk.
We asked founder, Thad Oviatt to give you the scoop on how he’s working to build a secure “bicycle parking space.”
Number of Employees:
Funding or bootstrapped:
Bootstrapped and Friends & Family funding
How’d You Get The Idea For It:
The idea came from helping a college friend, an avid cyclist who had two bicycles stolen in one week. When the second bike was stolen the thief left the cut bike lock cable on the ground with a sticky note attached. The sticky note had a smiley face and had ‘THANKS!’ written across it. I thought the prevention of bicycle theft seemed a good idea for my senior design project in engineering. I decided to build a better bicycle locking system.
Who are your customers and what do they get:
Customers are universities, businesses, property owners, bicycle renters and cyclists. Organizations get a bicycle security system. Cyclists get a secure bicycle parking space.
Who are your competitors and how do you stand out:
Competitors are bike locks, bike racks, and a very expensive automated industrial robotic system in Japan. Parkent Cycles provides a secure “bicycle parking space” that locks approximately 90% of the current bicycle market. It is uniquely designed to lock the wheel and frame of the common diamond frame bicycle.
Parkent Cycles will sell to organizations and rebrand the product to the customer’s desire. After the sale we will set up maintenance and service contracts. We will have subscription models for non-organizational users of the system.
How does ATL weave into your story?
I, Thad Oviatt, am a native of Atlanta. I moved back in 2011 after finishing college at Georgia Southern University. In 2012, I founded Parkent Cycles. I started attending an Alpharetta startup circle after joining the ATDC. Contacts from the circle members led me to the Georgia Tech Capstone Design program. In 2013 Parkent Cycles sponsored two Capstone teams. They advanced a proof-of-concept prototype into commercialized prototypes. After working with Capstone, I literally bumped into The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) program in the hallways of the ATDC building. The GaMEP was contracted to develop commercial product designs based off the prototypes and delivered in early 2014. Currently Parkent Cycles has a manufacturer under contract in the Atlanta area producing fully functioning demonstration models.
Do you use any tools & services to manage your day-to-day:
How do you stay connected with your audience/customers?
I meet with college student government representatives, alternative transportation advocates, and cycling organizations.
How do you stay informed & on top of emerging trends?
I follow cycling organizations on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. I read the newspaper for local articles on cycling infrastructure improvements. I have family and friends who keep me informed on media articles involving cycling.
If you could have one mulligan (do-over) in the process of launching and running this startup what would it be?
I do not have any part of the process so far that I would consider doing over. I am just thankful of the progress that has been made over the last two years. We have grown from a proof-of-concept prototype in to commercial product design.
What kind of mentor could you use the most right now?
We could use a few mentors. Each time we meet with another mentor the product and business grows. A mentor who understands mass manufacturing. A mentor for enterprise software implementations. A financial advisor. The list goes on. We appreciate advice from others in order to learn and grow.
Is there anything else you need (that money can’t buy)?
We are always looking for contacts and connections.
[Photo Credit: Parkent Cycles]