Parking Origin Stories: Jonah Lazowski, CEO at A Lot Media
This installment of “Parking Origin Stories” features a young leader who grew up in the industry, starting out as a flagger and valet before becoming an entrepreneur who helps operators monetize physical space in an unprecedented way.
With his one-two punch of ingrained parking knowledge and consumer media savvy, Jonah Lazowski uses eye-popping advertising and interactive hardware to generate revenue from empty space in parking facilities.
“I’ve always been immersed in the parking world.”
You could say that parking is in Jonah’s blood (his father, Al Lazowski, started valeting 43 years ago in Hartford, Connecticut is the CEO of LAZ Parking).
He admits that while it was definitely a “random world” to be immersed in as a kid, he found it stimulating to work in the thick of an industry evolving at breakneck speed.
As a teenager, Jonah would spend his summers flagging at events. His next gig was taking tickets at 29 Temple Street in Hartford, and then he graduated to valet parking at a hospital.
By the time he attended his first National Parking Association (NPA) Expo in 2017, he had the lay of the land and hands-on experience comparable with many folks in the room.
But the world of park-tech was about to crack open like a book in front of him, and it wouldn’t be so long before he was helping author it.
“Parking was entering its next renaissance.”
What we talk about when we talk about the advancement of a long-established industry like parking is identifying the inflection points: what are the customer’s critical moments with us, and how do we better monetize them?
At his first NPA Expo, it was thoughts like these that were whirring through Jonah’s head.
He’d been involved in parking for six years, but his first exposure to the industry (through LAZ) remained his only frame of reference. That was about to change.
What Jonah observed on site was that very few companies were starting conversations about cloud-based technology; at this point, the buzzwords that dominate parking dialogue today were just beginning to emerge.
Jonah left the show engaged and energized. As a next-generation parking professional, he’d always been a proponent of technology (his generation grew up online, after all).
He decided right then and there that he was going to play a role in modernizing the industry.
“Where people saw blank wall space, we saw opportunity.”
A parking facility, as we all know, is a physical space.
Within its walls, fences, or barriers, parkers interact with various people, technologies, and equipment. This amounts to the customer experience, which impacts retention and revenue.
What Jonah was realizing was that not all of that physical space was being put to work to make money. It was clear to him that between the non-stop foot traffic and abundance of physical space, a parking facility is perfectly engineered for running digital advertising campaigns.
He founded his company, A Lot Media, in 2017, with the mission of creating new value for parking operators by using blank space to display dynamic ads that get customers to take action.
His ads are “scaled-down versions of billboards” that live in places like walls, gate arms, elevator doors, and even the white space on rate boards, to bring in revenue without interrupting the operator’s main business of parking cars.
Due to his previous experiences, Jonah was aware of the nuances and needs unique to the industry. But what he knew more surely than anything was that he needed to know more.
Like all of parking’s most successful young leaders – past, present, and future – Jonah listened first, acted next. He wasn’t out to bust in and mix things up just because they felt outdated; he wanted to work hand-in-hand with operators and use the past to help shape the future.
Jonah was on the road for 18 out of the A Lot’s first 24 months, meeting with parking professionals from all sectors.
Hearing from so many operators that it was frustrating when vendors asked them for a section of their facility – a section that, as a result, some customers could no longer pay to park in – it was important to Jonah that he didn’t do the same.
Rather, he wanted to bring value to the empty wall, the blank gate-arm, and the thumbprint-scuffed elevator door.
And not in a static way, but in a way that is measurable and attributable to bottom-line growth.
“We needed a proof of concept.”
In 2019, Jonah installed his equipment in 30+ garages in Connecticut.
A Lot Media was able to create $200,000 in value from one advertiser for the parking operators that participated – staggering, unprecedented results.
Universally seeing the value, the operators and the advertiser renewed their agreements.
All of A Lot Media’s screens are dynamic and interactive. And because they own their manufacturing, A Lot Media can build units with advanced functionality like printing coupons.
Jonah’s team of twelve developers creates the advertising assets and campaigns, employing testing, targeting, best practices, and ongoing optimizations to improve performance.
“Here’s the secret sauce.”
With his advertising model yielding significant results, Jonah started thinking five steps ahead: how else could his company add value?
He continued attending conferences and meeting with industry luminaries, observing that more and more technology companies were showing up and making their voices heard.
However, even though words like “dynamic pricing” permeated every conversation, no one was cracking the code. Awareness and interest were spreading like wildfire. But the integrations and partnerships necessary to put these concepts into action didn’t quite exist.
How do you allow an operator to make changes to their rate board in a way that doesn’t require them to create a new sign or update their equipment?
If an operator wants to adjust pricing based on occupancy, market events, weather, or whatever else, what technologies need to talk to one another to make that happen?
In Jonah’s mind, the answer to these questions was clear: integrations.
He then started working with PARCS companies. In the same screens where A Lot Media was displaying advertising, they’d section off the top two-thirds as a dynamic rate display board.
Whenever operators update rates in their PARCS systems, it’s uploaded to A Lot Media’s digital signage and instantly conveyed to customers.
According to Jonah, A Lot Media’s “secret sauce” is being flexible and uniquely able to build equipment and integrations that serve operators and customers in new ways.
“I’m so excited for what’s up next.”
When asked about what’s on A Lot Media’s roadmap, Jonah becomes more animated.
“There are a couple of future ideas that would be so exciting for us,” Jonah says, “and one of them revolves around LPR. Imagine that you have an LPR solution hooked up in your garage and you’re able to welcome someone directly by scanning their plate and displaying their name right there on the digital screen when they’re rolling in. Providing info and personalization at those key touchpoints, that’s really what we offer.”
Ultimately, Jonah is excited to be able to distribute information within lots and garages and facilitate the connection between all of these technologies.
What he wants is for A Lot Media to be an essential revenue source that operators always consider when they’re looking over their projections of the year.
Whether it’s through advertising, dynamic pricing, or whatever his company does down the road as their technology continues to evolve, Jonah’s committed to being a partner they can rely on.
Sarah Becherer, VP of Growth at Ocra, can be reached at Sarah@getocra.com