20-year-old Student Entrepreneur Leads Parking Solution in San Jose California
Young entrepreneur Steve Suarez is the founder and CEO of the parking app SpotMe Solutions, an app designed to help make the commute easier. Steve started SpotMe during his first semester at San Jose State University. “The first time my parents came to visit me they did circles around my block trying to find parking. This helped me believe that they are not the only ones going through this,” Suarez said.
In order to validate his idea, Steve first conducted a research study which included asking his colleagues to tell him their parking experiences. “Many stated they would miss class at least once a week at the beginning of the semester due to circling around in garages. Others stated that after 9:30 a.m., it was complete chaos.” Suarez said.
Suarez grew up working in family-owned businesses, but never held any leadership positions prior to working on SpotMe.
The parking at San Jose State University has 4,980 spaces for 35,835 students. SJSU is well-known for its students being commuters. This situation seemed stressful for many, but an opportunity for Suarez. “I thought of something my dad always told me: there are two types of people when there is a problem, those who complain about it and those who always do something about it,” Suarez said, “I am a go-getter, so I am going to do something about this parking problem.”
Back in his hometown, Soledad, the traffic flow is far less busy compared to San Jose. Suarez grew up working in family-owned businesses but, never held any leadership positions prior to working on SpotMe. “I did not know anything about what it takes to make an app. But I would pitch the idea as if I did by sharing my vision.” Suarez said. Steve’s vision is to help make commuting easier for commuters. He wanted to create an app that could help you save 20 minutes of your time.
After sharing his innovative idea with his business professor, the prof suggested he visit the IDEA Lab. IDEA Lab is a student-led startup accelerator at SJSU. From there, Suarez picked up a team made up of designers and engineers. Steve entered on-campus competitions and was awarded the 2018 People’s Choice Award in the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge and also was a recipient in the scholarship program, Zinnstarter.
Throughout the whole process of working on the project, he found himself improving the most in being able to understand people from different backgrounds. “When I first started, I hated being in software meetings, I hated being in hardware meetings,” Suarez said. However, Suarez knew that if he wanted to speak for his company, he had to know every single detail and be up-to-date on the jargon.
SpotMe Solution is an app that helps commuters plan ahead by indicating the nearest available parking spots in relation to the user’s destination. Currently, it is live on the Apple and Google Play Store under SpotMe Solutions. Sensors are installed in the entrances and exits of garages. SpotMe streams the overall (per floor) count of a garage onto a mobile app. Suarez was able to partner with San Jose State University for a trial period. The app manages SJSU’s four main garages (North, South, West and Park and Ride garage).
SpotMe is made up of five SJSU students, Steve Suarez (founder), James Zhao (Software Lead), Beshir Aissi (Hardware Lead), Jasmine Alvarez (Graphic Designer), Patty Ing (Lead Designer).