Now, CMO Jeff Perkins is moving into the CEO seat as the Atlanta-based “smart parking” app looks to navigate the post-pandemic business boom. Perkins has been ParkMobile’s CMO and Head of Product since 2017, and before that held positions at other Atlanta giants like Autotrader, PGi, and QASymphony.
Current CEO John Ziglar will remain on the Board of Directors and serve as a senior advisor to EasyPark Group, according to a press statement.
Perkins answered some of our questions about what moving into the CEO position means for ParkMobile’s future and what he is prioritizing at the early part of his tenure.
Question: What initially attracted you to ParkMobile?
I was at a marketing event, and I met someone who worked at ParkMobile. He was telling me about the business, and I was instantly intrigued. I had never heard of it before, but it seemed like they were modernizing how people pay for parking. Then I looked on my phone and realized that I already had the app installed. It was just one of those random apps I never really thought about unless I had to park. This struck me as a real opportunity to build the brand around the idea of “smart parking.”
Additionally, after doing B2B marketing at QASymphony for several years targeting a highly technical buyer, I was itching to do something a bit more consumer-centric. I like working on brands that everyone uses. A few months later, my friend Leigh Segall, CMO of Smart Communications, told me that ParkMobile was looking for a new marketing leader, and I was immediately interested. She connected me with the company and the rest, as they say, is history.
Question: As you look back at your CMO tenure, is there something (or a few things) you are most proud of? What lessons are you bringing into the CEO role?
We have had a lot of success since I joined the company. We’ve grown our user base from 8 million to 25 million. We’ve sold the business twice. And we’ve built a world-class organization. But, I’d say the thing I’m probably most proud of was leading the process to create our core values at ParkMobile. As a marketing leader, I believe your brand has to be built on a strong foundation. If you don’t have clearly defined core values, that foundation will be shaky. When I joined ParkMobile, there were no core values in place, so it was one of the first projects that I took on. Why? Because it is hard to build a brand if you don’t understand who you are. That’s what core values help you define. And it’s hard for employees to really get behind the company and the mission if they don’t understand what its values are.
Once we established our core values, we made them a key part of how we operate as a company. We use them as a tool to evaluate potential job candidates as well as in our employee performance reviews. We use them to determine who we hire, who we fire, who gets promoted, who gets bonuses, and more. Employees who don’t align well with our core values usually don’t last long at the company. If you are interested, you can read about our six core values here: https://parkmobile.io/company/.
Question: Stepping into the CEO position, is there anything you can speak about publicly when it comes to next steps for the company? What does the next 12 months look like?
This is a really exciting time to step in as the CEO. We were just acquired by EasyPark Group, located in Sweden and the biggest parking technology company in Europe. ParkMobile is the largest in North America. Joining our companies together creates a global powerhouse, and I’m excited about what our organizations can do working together. The acquisition just closed in June, so we’re in the discovery process right now to figure out how we can share best practices and technology globally.
Additionally, our core business in North America is surging after a challenging 2020 with COVID. We’re up almost 300% year-over-year, and we’ve been adding 1 million new users every 30 days. We’ve also recently expanded our product offering, providing a new web app and the ability to make a parking payment right in the Google Pay app. This offers much more choice for users who prefer to make a contactless payment but don’t want to download a full-featured mobile app. There’s a lot of momentum in the business right now, so we just have to stay focused and execute our plan.
As far as the future goes, I think it’s all about three key things: product, people, and culture. To be successful, you have to have the best product. To have the best product, you have to be able to hire and retain the best people. To hire and retain the best people, you have to have the best culture. That’s my focus going forward.
Question: How has business changed since the acquisition?
It really hasn’t changed much at all. We’re very focused on delivering our product roadmap and hitting our numbers. Our new owner has been supportive and wants us to be successful. Over time, I’m sure we will find more opportunities for global collaboration. But, for now, it is business as usual.