Startup Spotlight – How Spotter Turned their idea into a successful business

Some of the best ideas have been obvious in the startup world, but it just took the perfect team to execute the vision properly.  A great example of a great idea that could be an amazing company once it overcomes certain obstacles, is Spotter. Spotter is a startup that basically seeks to monetize parking spaces, so that users can actually earn a passive income on a parking space, when they aren’t using it.  It is obvious that Spotter is a startup that is specifically targeting metropolitan cities, as parking spaces are not “prime real estate” in more rural locations.

There are clear obstacles to this company, but one great thing about this startup is that there is an example to look up to.  Airbnb has been extremely successful in terms of becoming a hotel alternative. The company has allowed people to rent out and lease their apartments and properties to create a more homely alternative to hotels, which often can come across as sterile and distant.  It regularly books 100 million stays a year at this point, which means that it is certainly a force. It hasn’t “replaced” the hotel industry, but has become such a force that certain cities, such as New York City, have had issues with how much it has achieved in terms of tourism of market share.

It is very clear that Spotter may not ever reach Airbnb’s $30 billion valuation, as it deals with parking space, rather than lodging, and people need parking space less than they need a roof over their head and a bed to sleep in.  However, for the modern workaholic and traveler, Spotter can be an asset for finding a parking space when it otherwise could be extremely inconvenient. Everyone has been in a position where they have had to repeatedly drive around several blocks looking for an adequate spot to park in, and Spotter does help make your time more productive.  Of course, for the parking spot owner, it provides an income that they wouldn’t have expected.

One of the first real obstacles to this particular company is execution.  The bottom line is that all this company needs to do is execute a platform that is user-friendly, and it is up and running.  There is simply no reason why people would not want to have an extra income. It is even better that this kind of income doesn’t require the kind of work that renting out a room does, where a landlord has to worry about conduct, cleanliness, safety, maintenance, pets, and a whole host of other factors.  In this case, while the occasional issue may arise, such as a user staying in a space too long, or a flat tire, the bottom line is that the problems are few and far between, and very easy to deal with. This is perfect for young adults on business trips that want to ensure a specific parking spot for a convention, business meeting, or even for leisure.  It is also perfect for freelancers who need to constantly commute to a city for certain periods of times, or contractors who require a given parking space, for a given amount of time, and simply cannot adjust in terms of time or location.

Since the idea is so great, the company has to ensure that it rolls out as soon as possible.  The bottom line is that if Airbnb didn’t get off the ground, it wouldn’t have been long before another company took that concept, and started eating away at market share.  It is very simple to realize that people may want to rent their space out to a safe and responsible tourist, for some extra cash for expenses. It is a situation that benefits both people, because the local can offer all sorts of suggestions that help the tourist’s experience, and the interaction could even lead to a possible friendship, or at the very least, a long-term business relationship in terms of a place to stay.  

The company already has a strategy of working to create a solid network, by targeting certain high-traffic neighborhoods to communicate with property owners who might be interested in some extra income.  They also recognize that business owners might not want to give up their coveted parking space, but are open to approaching them, because they realize that this is a huge untapped market. However, they are making the right move by targeting one absolutely huge market: festivals.  We all know that a partnership with large festivals could mean millions of potential revenue, as music festivals, film festivals, or conventions mean that thousands, and even millions of cars, need to be in a particular place at a particular time. Of course, the right partnerships in this space could be a game-changer, the same way that price-surging on certain holidays (New Year’s Eve in New York City) helps to generate a fortune for Uber.

Spotter has a great business model where it wants to partner with ordinary citizens to obtain a percentage of sales of a parking space, while empowering the everyday person to have an income on their own time conveniently, that otherwise wouldn’t exist.  We all know that this would absolutely work in cities like New York and San Francisco, where parking space is extremely limited compared to the demand. Of course, one aspect to consider are the legal obstacles. We all know that Uber and Airbnb ran into legal issues, especially when these companies reached a certain level of revenue.  Spotter certainly has the capability to scale, but it needs to execute efficiently and quickly, whether it is through advertising or word-of-mouth. One real issue that the startup will have is finding a foothold in cities where parking spaces may not be as coveted – because the money to be made may not be as worth it, and the demand may not be as much.  Regardless, there is simply no denying Spotter’s potential – the question is how widely it can spread, and how successful the company can become. Only time will tell!