Startups and Parking Conferences – a Perfect Match


Startups and Parking Conferences – a Perfect Match

It was late March of 2018, my first day on the job at Modii, and I had just entered the ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago for the Annual PIE Conference. As the first employee of our company in the United States – and possessing zero experience in the parking industry – the task ahead of me was a daunting one. How was I to meet people and uncover potential customers when I didn’t know the first thing about what they were actually looking for?

Shaking off the anxiety I pressed on, attending several of the seminars and introducing myself and my new role candidly with an openness regarding my lack of expertise. What I was soon to uncover was that the people in the parking industry are some of the most warm and welcoming that I had encountered of any of the industries I’d ever been fortunate to work in. In fact, I’d go so far as to say the new friends I met that day embraced this newcomer with open arms, not to mention a curious interest as to why an Australian with no experience was attending a parking conference on the other side of the world by himself.
Fair enough.

My icebreaker was that I had just signed on at Modii (at the time known as Spot Parking), a startup born out of Australia that had developed an innovative new technology to digitally map the curb and guide drivers on the best place to park – groundbreaking, right? My mission that day was to learn the problems that kept municipal parking administrators awake at night, and in doing so hopefully learn how best to establish a foothold in the industry. 

About 48 hours later, not only had I enjoyed a fantastic time meeting people and learning from the best, but I had also changed my flight and instead of heading home was now on a plane to Columbus with the team from CampusParc at the Ohio State University. It was only a few months later that we formed a partnership to adapt our technology for the complexities of a large-scale university campus – a solution that we have now rolled out across a number of the major institutions in the country (with many thanks to Sarah & Bob).

The crux of my shared experience is the immense value available to startups and new technology vendors by simply attending parking conferences. While I had trepidation setting foot in the ballroom that day, without doing so, I honestly don’t know where I would have even begun. Sure, while I love the ability to connect with people over Zoom from the comfort of my own office there is only so much that one can glean from brief, impersonal connections over a high-speed data connection. Just the chance to meet the 20 or so contacts at the PIE conference that week helped place our company on the road to the success that we’re experiencing today, employing a team numbered in the double digits and serving customers on both sides of the globe.

The key advice I can impart from my experience at industry conferences:

1- Things are what you make of them.

It is vital that you actually get involved – take the opportunity to present when offered, play golf, go to the happy hours, even pull up a seat at the hotel bar and shake the hands of the people sitting next to you (something that has helped us to secure business partnerships on more than one occasion). 

2- It’s not enough to just meet people.

You must value and nurture these connections and treat each person that extends their help as a friend and an opportunity to learn. When it comes to the parking industry, presenting a solution that solves a common problem is only the start. Customers will typically only entertain the concept of a new technology if they find the team providing it to be patient, willing to learn about their unique challenges and – most importantly of all – reliable and ready to answer the phone when something unexpected happens. 

3- A rising tide lifts all boats.

Choose to view potential competition as an opportunity rather than a threat. The parking industry is rich with opportunity and very open to those who want to listen and share experiences. As for companies that I initially deemed to be our competition, I’ve since found multiple opportunities to work with on a handful of customer projects – to the great benefit of us all.

4- Don’t forget those who helped you on the way up.

Make it a priority to inform those who lent a helping hand of the positive impact they’ve had. Take steps to stay in contact with the people that you meet, as even if they aren’t a potential customer, you never know when the friends that you make along the way will come back to support you down the line. I assure you this is something you’re bound to see happen time and time again.

In the years following that first PIE conference, I have continued to attend conferences from coast to coast – from PIE, IPMI and NPA to almost all of the regional conferences I could find. I still can’t suggest a better way to meet new friends, learn about the latest in the industry and uncover exciting new partnership opportunities. I’m pleased to say that I remain in regular contact with many of those I met that day, several of whom have since become customers of Modii, and now find myself in the fortunate position to be able to reciprocate the help that was (and continues to be) given to me. 

Ever since that first day at PIE, Astrid and John have continued to regularly support myself and our entire team, offering their valuable advice and broadcasting our message. For that I will forever be thankful. 

Mark Frumar is the President of Modii –

Article contributed by:
Mark Frumar
Only show results from:

Recent Articles

Send message to

    We use cookies to monitor our website and support our customers. View our Privacy Policy