We recently interviewed Wen Sang, the Founder and CEO of Smarking, to learn more about how his company is revolutionizing the way that data informs the parking industry. Read on to learn about Smarking’s mission and how the company could potentially help your business.
PE (ParkingExec): How did you come up with the idea for Smarking?
WS (Wen Sang): Smarking was originated out of my frustrating experience trying to find parking spaces in downtown Boston during my time as a graduate student at MIT.
After many months of market and product trial and error, I determined the direction, gathered the team, and completed the first version of the solution in summer of 2014 with the support from several initial clients. Since then, the team has been pushing out the solution via direct sales efforts. With investment from the country’s leading venture firms, Smarking is quickly expanding nationwide.
PE: What problems does Smarking solve for parking operators?
WS: Smarking enables parking business owners and operators to uplift revenue, cut costs, and elevate customer service by providing data analytics services and empowering data driven decisions on pricing, staffing, and customer service.
Smarking aggregates data from any existing parking IT systems (PRCS, LPR, inventory, Pay-on-foot, pay via mobile, Pay-in-Display) in parking facilities, conducts statistics and predictive analytics by combining the parking data with other relevant data (e.g. weather, events, traffic, holidays, taxi dispatch, public transportation, flight schedules, etc.), and provides both business intelligence and insightful recommendations to the parking management.
The solution seamlessly integrates with any parking facility’s existing IT system without the need for any additional hardware or downtime. The service is hosted in the cloud and can be accessed via both web and mobile.
PE: What is Smarking doing that no one else is doing?
WS: For years, parking businesses have been longing for a solution that can enable them to make data driven decisions on pricing, staffing, and customer service, while there’s always a technology gap between parking professionals and data technologies. Smarking bridges that gap by:
- Aggregating data from diversified IT systems and putting them into one place
- Conducting deep analysis and providing business intelligence with visualizations
- Combining relevant big data to predict future demand, and optimizing pricing and staffing based on those predictions
PE: In what parts of the country do you currently have operations?
WS: Smarking has clients in many sectors of the industry, including major airports, municipalities, leading operators, and property owners. The solution has been primarily provided to clients in the Northeast and recently in California. We are now expanding nationwide.
PE: Who is Smarking’s “best customer”? Is your product designed with a certain type of parking operation in mind?
WS: Parking business owners and operators that are visionary, forward thinking and innovation driven. Our solution is designed to serve any parking facility with data collection from any existing equipment/devices.
PE: I have read that Smarking “ingests existing parking data to use as a means of historical comparison.” How does this work?
WS: Smarking’s solution works as an overlay data analytics software service on top of any existing IT systems in parking facilities. All it takes for the seamless integration is authorized access to the equipment. The solution is cloud based and interfaces are available on both web and mobile.
PE: I’m sure many parking operators are concerned about integration with their current management systems. What does this process look like?
WS: The process starts with a 20 minute phone call between the client and a Smarking customer representative. With basic information of the facilities clarified, the set-up process typically takes 2 hours to 5 days depending on the particular situation of the location(s). No additional hardware is needed and no downtime for the parking operation. In many cases, the integration can be done remotely.
PE: Smarking delivers results in the form of an analytics dashboard. Do you ever give rate or staffing recommendations based on your findings?
WS: Yes. The projected most-optimized pricing structure and parking product combination, as well as staffing recommendations are all available for our clients. We are very open to customized requests at no additional cost.
PE: Do you see potential for Smarking to collaborate with mobile parking platforms to offer dynamic pricing? If so, what would this look like?
WS: Absolutely. One of the requests that mobile parking platforms always get from parking businesses is: “can you help me optimize my pricing?” While mobile platforms have a very specific business focus as a consumer marketing place, Smarking’s sweet spot is to solve that problem and bridge the pricing optimization gap between parking inventory and mobile platforms.
PE: How do you see Smarking evolving in the next year?
Smarking is backed by the country’s leading Venture Capital, including Y Combinator (an investor in Dropbox, Airbnb, Reddit, etc.) and is expanding quickly.
In the coming year, Smarking foresees fast evolvement toward being the “Go To Company” for data analytics in the parking industry.
Wen Sang is the Founder and CEO of Smarking Inc., an MIT spin-out technology company that unlocks the potential of parking businesses with data analytics. Dr. Sang received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in 2014. His major research work concentrated on transportation systems and thermo-fluid sciences. Wen is extremely passionate about applying cutting edge data technologies to the parking industry to contribute to the movement of the industry’s digitization.
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