In this project I look at engineering from a different perspective… the business perspective. My team and I started with an idea: Track cars in a parking lot and use the information to help the whole operation run smoother. From there, we researched, though, and schemed until we had a sturdy business plan for the new venture.
There is a movie theater in Atlanta that is nearly impossible to park at. It requires you to drive around endlessly to find a space. It occurred to me one evening, that with cameras set up to watch the lot it would be possible to track all the cars and know where the available spaces were. Then, movie-goers could get the map of all available spaces via an MMS message.
When I took “Technology Ventures” last semester in the College of Management a team and I worked together to design a business plan around this technology called “Park-Find”. Over the course of the project we researched our competition, researched our target market, made analyses of costs to develop and produce the technology, and learned a great deal about what goes into planning a business.
Here I’ll summarize some parts of the business plan. The full document, as well as a final presentation of the business (similar to a presentation that could be given to VC’s etc.) are available for download. Finally we decided that although the technology could make money we didn’t want to launch the company because it seemed a bit too risky to out-weight the potential rewards.
The pay parking management equipment industry of the United States is a $3.2 billion industry with immense potential for additional revenue. Current systems exist to provide total parking system management, but they fail to provide an efficient, secure system that is easy to use for both parker and lot owner. Park-Find offers a solution that will change the way people think about parking. We offer a unique technology that allows parking lot owners to actively monitor and manage their lots via an autonomously running video tracking system. With Park-Find, customers will increase their profitability with a solution that provides more benefit to parkers. Our industry analysis indicates that there is significant need for this type of product, and that there exists an opportunity to penetrate the market with our novel solution. Because of our strong intellectual property and strategic positioning in the market, we expect Park-Find to grow and become profitable as well as becoming an attractive acquisition to established parking solution providers. Through careful positioning, we expect liquidation in the next five years.
In the business plan we address, among other things, the following areas:
- Executive Summary
- Business Description
- Product Offerings
- Market and Industry Analysis
- Industry Background
- Target Market
- Market Size
- Market Trends
- Competitor Analysis
- Product Appeal
- Marketing Plan
- Strategic Partnerships
- Sustaining Competitive Advantage
- Outsourcing and Strategic Partnership
- Research and Development
- Business Milestones
- Risk Assessment
- Financial Plan
- Exit Strategy
Below are selected sections from the business plan.
Parking is something that everyone is familiar with and nearly all of us do every day. We have been trained to use various methods of payment and control that are scattered around to help owners and managers of parking systems deal with the volume of parkers that use their facilities everyday. Over the years, the technology used to manage parking has been changing. Spring-loaded mechanical parking meters led to digital parking meters. Next, ticket-based machines were introduced, which can sometimes take cash or even credit card thus allowing someone to park without carrying a pocket full of change.
Park-Find is prepared to enter the market with the next step in parking management solutions. Using our innovative technology, the gates and tickets of today will vanish. No longer will people be required to wait in long lines to enter and exit. Parking places can be found automatically. Parking as an industry becomes more profitable, and parking your car becomes less of a chore.
This dream is made possible by recent developments in the field of computer vision. New algorithms allow computers to take video from small wireless cameras placed in a parking facility, process the information, understand it, and produce a simple map of which spaces are available and which spaces are occupied. From here, this map can be integrated with existing payment systems to streamline the process of payment, simplify management and enforcement, as well as give parkers hints about where to park to save time and effort.
The parking management equipment industry is very large ($3.2 billion annually), and is perpetually re-invested in by pay-parking facilities nationwide. Right now the market is in upheaval as companies are searching for a technology solution that fits the needs of the industry. Park-Find, using its innovative vision-based solution, has the opportunity to leap past other technology providers in the industry and give customers a solution that far out-performs the status quo and even other radical technologies.
Based on industry research and engineering experience we expect the Park-Find product offering to have the ability to save our customers considerable amounts of money and thereby increase their profits. We can do this for a lower cost and with greater profit margins than most competitors in the field. These factors blend to create a valuable opportunity for Park-Find to enter this market, help customers solve their problems, and in the process grow into a valuable company.
Core Technology::Park-Watch Engine
The Park-Watch Engine is the heart of Park-Findâ€™s product offering. This system will use visual tracking algorithms to monitor cars in the parking structure. Then based on their movements, a virtual map that shows the location of occupied and unoccupied spaces can be continuously updated. The information contained in this map can then be used in various ways to help manage parking at the facility.