Innovation Incubator: Accelerate!


Innovation Incubator: Accelerate!

Parking Pitch Competition Highlights Emerging Technologies


As innovation continues to transform the parking industry and the broader mobility sector, newer companies and existing firms with new technologies can face difficulty gaining attention in a rapidly expanding and increasingly diversifying marketplace.  


Looking to help such companies in their bid to obtain greater visibility and traction, Parking Today Media conducted the inaugural Accelerate! Parking Pitch Competition at its Parking Industry Expo (PIE) 2024 this past March. Bringing together leaders from six innovative parking firms, the competition gave participants a platform to pitch their company before a panel of experienced judges and a roomful of industry observers. 


Ultimately, Jim Gibbs — the co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of MeterFeeder, Inc., a provider of digital parking payment and enforcement solutions — emerged victorious. But no matter their final ranking, the participants agreed that the experience was invaluable and they highly recommended that other emerging parking companies consider entering next years Accelerate! Parking Pitch Competition, to be held at PIE 2025.  


Feedback and support for newcomers 

The idea for the Parking Pitch Competition arose from the recognition that new businesses seeking to promote innovative parking solutions can benefit greatly from input and advice from long-time industry participants, said Kevin Uhlenhaker, the CEO and publisher of Parking Today Media as well as a former co-founder and CEO of NuPark, a parking technology company begun in 2013. 


I started Accelerate! because I wanted the type of place that I wished had existed when we launched NuPark,Uhlenhaker said. No one outside of the parking industry understands how hard parking is and why its important.”  


The parking industry can be a little hesitant about adopting new [Text Wrapping Break]technologies,Uhlenhaker said. Companies attempting to enter the field often find themselves in the difficult position of having to overcome the initial hesitation of customers while simultaneously meeting the demands of investors.  


To help new firms straddle these competing requirements, Accelerate! provides an environment in which experienced industry participants can give feedback and support to newcomers,Uhlenhaker said. To this end, the Parking Pitch Competition helps to create and foster a community of innovation while incubating the next generation of technologies from within the industry,he noted. 


The Results Are In 

The inaugural Parking Pitch Competition involved six companies that either are relatively new to the parking industry or are introducing an innovative technology to the U.S. market. Representatives of each company were allotted 8 minutes to make their pitch to the panel of judges and answer their questions. The judges then selected winners based on the winnersfuture ability for success in the parking sphere. 


The judges awarded first through sixth place to the following companies: 

1st: MeterFeeder 

2nd: Edgeworth Security, which offers remote guarding solutions 

3rd: Perch Parking, a digital parking marketplace enabling property owners near event venues to offer parking spaces to event-goers 

4th: Survision, a maker of license plate recognition (LPR) technology 

5th: SpotGenius, a provider of smart parking management systems 

6th: Twyns-US, a maker of hardware and software for parking management solutions 


Depending on their ranking, participants received a prize package including free or discounted advertising in Parking Today, cash or a credit with Parking Today, discounted booth space at PIE, and free consulting services related to human resources and executive coaching. 


‘A Really Good Opportunity 

The first-place finish came as a pleasant surprise to Gibbs, of MeterFeeder. Normally I’m not a pitch competition guy,Gibbs said. I’m a software guy.”  


However, Gibbsvictory did not surprise Nick Waskiewicz, a regional sales manager for Edgeworth Security and the competitions second-place winner. I knew Jim Gibbs was going to win,” Waskiewicz said. He’s super intelligent. He is one of the smartest people I know. 


During his pitch, Gibbs highlighted MeterFeeders product known as the Ticket Monitor, an automated solution that handles parking tickets and payments for fleets. (For more on Gibbs and MeterFeeder, see the related story, page 20). 


For his part, Gibbs lauded the pitch competition for its professionalism,” and he recommended that other companies participate in future events. If youre a small startup or youre getting up and running and you need people to hear your story, having a roomful of potential customers is a really good opportunity,he noted. 


Industry Interest 

For Edgeworth Security, the pitch competition offered an ideal setting for discussing the merits of the companys security solutions, including its Voice Down system that live agents use to speak directly to intruders and potential criminals, Waskiewicz said. We were able to show our product, which is relatively new to the parking world,he said. 


What impressed Waskiewicz the most about the experience was the attentiveness of everyone in the room. Everybody was paying attention,he said. Nobody was playing with their phone or returning emails. Everyone’s attention was on the presenter. 


The pitch competition also sparked some potential business opportunities for Edgeworth Security. We had a few parking operators reach out to usasking to learn more about Edgeworths offerings in more detail, Waskiewicz said. 


Networking Made Easy 

For Perch Parking, Accelerate! provided an overwhelmingly positive experience in terms of visibility,said J.J. Paulsen, who founded the company with Dustin Karp three years ago while they were attending the University of Florida. Responding to the crushing demand for parking during home games of the Florida Gators football team, Paulsen and Karp created their digital interface that links parking asset owners and drivers.  


The pair are growing Perch to accommodate other college towns in the southeastern United States, though they aim to expand to colleges and universities nationwide. The sky’s the limit in terms of what we can do with Perch,Karp said. 


As a small, brand-new company, Perch Parking benefited from the opportunity to participate in the pitch competition and meet the other participants, Karp said. We were able to talk to other startups in the parking space as well,he noted. Overall, it was a great learning experience. 


Paulsen agreed. Accelerate! was an invaluable experience that allowed us to learn and meet people that we wouldnt have otherwise,he said. 


‘Focused Exposure 

Although not a startup, Survision also benefited from its participation in the pitch competition, said Laura Caillot, the companys managing director. It was a great experience for us,Caillot said. 


As a French company with a relatively recent U.S. presence and a new mobile LPR technology to promote, Survision benefited from the good visibilityafforded by Accelerate!, Caillot said. After the event, many people came to our booth to say congratulations,she noted. 


For Shabbir Karimi, the CEO of SpotGenius — which offers the smart parking management system of the same name — participation in Accelerate! amounted to a high point of the conference. The focused exposure and new audience reach we experienced as participants in the Pitch contest was an instrumental part of our success at PIE 2024,Karimi said. Presenting our unique product technology to a panel of industry professionals, peers, and potential customers was a game changer. 


Everyone Wins 

As a participant in Accelerate!, Twyns-US also benefited from the visibility provided by the competition, particularly because the company had only entered the U.S. market a few months earlier, said Ira Powers, the CEO of Twyns-US. I got a lot of positive feedback from the audience,Powers said. 


However, the benefits of Accelerate! extend beyond simply the participants, Powers said. The judges and audience also have an opportunity to stay current on evolving trends in the industry. Its important for the parking market to get an early introduction to these technologies, so that [companies] can better plan their, say, two-year strategy, four-year strategy, and six-year strategy,he said. 


In the end, the pitch competition is a win for the participants, a win for the judges, and a win for the audience,Powers said. 


Accelerating Accelerate! 

Upon its return next year at PIE 2025, which will be held March 31 to April 3, Accelerate! will be even bigger and better, as well as potentially more lucrative for participants.  


Although details remain under development, were expanding the format to include more companies and are adding an Investor Pitch Dayto enable participants to present their ideas directly to investors,Uhlenhaker said. As a result of his first-place finish this year, MeterFeeders Gibbs will participate as a judge in the 2025 pitch competition. 


Our overall goal is to expand the program, increase its impact, and continue to foster and expand innovation in the parking industry,Uhlenhaker said. 


Applications for Accelerate! 2025 will open in fall 2024. 


Jay Landers is the Editor-in-Chief of Parking Today. He can be reached at 


Featured Image, left to right: Nick Waskiewicz, Edgeworth Security; J.J. Paulsen and Dustin Karp of Perch Parking; Kevin Uhlenhaker, Parking Today Media; Rachel Wheeler, SpotGenius; Sofia Kuhn, Survision; Ira Powers, the CEO of Twyns-US; Shabbir Karimi, the CEO of SpotGenius
Article contributed by:
Jay Landers, Editor-in-Chief, Parking Today
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