All ParkMobile employees start each morning with an email recap of the previous day’s analytics, giving them a look at how the parking app was growing day by day in cities across the country.
Jeff Perkins, who was ParkMobile’s CMO in 2020, said it was about transparency and making sure every person understood what was going on with the business.
That transparency was put to the test at the start of the pandemic.
“Rewind to February 2020, and everything was going well for us. We were setting records for user acquisition and transactions on a daily basis,” he said. “We had our big company kickoff meeting at State Farm Arena and we were about to sign a lease on new office space in West Midtown. We were feeling a little invincible and like this run would never end.”
Then March hit. Offices shuttered and people stayed indoors. Parking lots emptied and ParkMobile’s revenue “went almost to zero,” Perkins told Hypepotamus. “We talked about turning off the daily emails…but we didn’t. We said it was important that we were transparent and not acting like we were hiding anything.”
Seeing revenue drop to near zero overnight would be enough to scare even the most seasoned of business owners or entrepreneurs. But Perkins said it was an opportunity for one of the few consumer mobile app startups in the city to refocus priorities and build out technologies for post-pandemic realities.
“A lot of our product roadmap was driven by client requests before,” Perkins recalled. “During COVID, our team had the bandwidth to focus on the things that would make the app better for a consumer.” That meant releasing a web version of the product to combat “app fatigue” and serve the more casual driver who might not use the iOS or Android app version as frequently. They also expanded integrations within Google’s suite of products.
And while individual parking transactions dried up, cities and towns came in droves to ParkMobile as they searched for cashless, touchless ways to keep drivers safe.
From a team perspective, Perkins said ParkMobile made strategic financial decisions to avoid any layoffs during the pandemic. The one big personnel shift: Perkins moved into the CEO seat.
Perkins was uniquely positioned to become CEO during a time of great flux for ParkMobile. “I’m probably not great at like staying in my lane, which works out if you want to understand the sales, financial, technology, and operations side of the business,” he said.
ParkMobile’s business looks pretty different than it did last summer when Perkins took over as CEO. Despite a massive pandemic downturn, the platform has reached new impressive growth analytics recently.
In February 2020, the startup did 9.3 million. Two and a half years later, that number is pushing 13 million.
Looking into the future, Perkins said ParkMobile is ready to take on the changing nature of car ownership and urban development.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say that we are going to go out of business with autonomous vehicles. We look at it differently because we think autonomous cars are actually going to need more parking and more services. And we are in a unique position because we work with all the garages and operators and we could enable a lot of those services through the car,” he added.
As a consumer-facing, transportation-focused mobile app, ParkMobile certainly does have a unique view of how driver needs and patterns are changing. And that data is making them a valuable asset to cities across the country.
“We’re growing again,” Perkins said. “It’s fun to look at those daily emails again.”