Venture Capital – Help of Hinderance?


Venture Capital – Help of Hinderance?

Almost weekly we see that venture capitalists are investing in start up companies in our business. I’m told the scenario goes something like this:

A person gets and idea and then scrapes together initial funding from their friends and family. They get to a stage where they can show their idea in some reality to a potential customer or an investor.

They then approach a potential investor and if they pitch it right get an investment. There are certain goals to be reached. If they are all is well, if they aren’t, well…They then move forward with their company and typically a year or so later, they still have no substantial income but have increased their visibility and they go back for a second round of funding.

This time, noting that the goals weren’t reached, the VC received a percentage of the company, lets say 30%, sets a new set of goals, and provides more funding.

A year later, nothing again the goals weren’t reached, the VC now receives a greater percentage of the company, lets say an additional 30% and puts someone on the board to oversee the operations of the company.

You might note what just happened. The original founder of the company is now an employee and the VC is for all intents and purposes running the company.

The time frames may vary, but VC companies know that they are risking their money. They are looking for substantial return and will do whatever they can to ensure it.

Remember, the idea may not be to ‘make money.’ The goal may be to develop the idea so it can be sold to Yahoo or Google for millions. That works too.

The problem with the parking business, it seems to me, is that the technology acceptance is glacial. The larger companies take time to get their technology in place and then stick to it. Cities and Universities find that changing is risky and often balk.

The term “nobody every got fired buying IBM” fits well in our industry. Even though new ideas may work better and save money, few want to take the risk before someone else does. Buying the tried and true may be a stodgy approach, but its safe.

This means that start ups had better be in it for the long haul. They need to convince their VC folks not to expect quick turns on their money. Or they need a rich uncle.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. Ha, well said. Great article.
    Looking at the stock price for my employer I can see that not everyone see’s things the way that you an I do. But I am not concerned – the majority do and the management do.
    Short terms gains were good, but so dancing Gangnam style apparently – sometimes its better to have a long term vision and perspective.
    In the current state of all things parking I think this is paramount. We have everything changing so rapidly:
    – Car Technology is increasing
    – Personal Technology (mobile etc) is increasing
    – Land is become more scarce and requires more resource management
    – Finances are becoming tight and more efficient returns are required.
    – Social Interaction is changing dimensions (which affects how we organize things).
    – hell even the planet is having a good argument with us, car parks getting hammered by everything from epic storms to earthquakes

    All of these are changing how we deal with parking, and will require changes in parking investment. Exciting times ahead.

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