The Future of City Parking – a Q&A with Arieanne Stern, CEO of InstaPark

Instapark is the real-time price and review comparison engine for parking and the company disrupting a $75B industry. Instapark makes it simple to book a parking space in advance so you can to your destination stress-free. In seconds, anyone can type in their destination and ETA and view the current rates for multiple lots in the area for that specific time frame. Search results can then be filtered by ratings, needs (charging station, valet), proximity to the point of interest, or by price.

Since launch in 2016, InstaPark has established relationships with other parking companies such as Park n Fly, AirportParkingReservations.com, Way.com, and AboutAirportParking.com. With these relationships, InstaPark aims to be the central aggregator for all parking needs. It also allows them to compare fares across these platforms in order to present the best deals to their customers, similar to Kayak.com.

InstaPark’s newest partnership is with ParkWhiz. This deal allows users to book a parking spot from one of their 4,000 facilities in over 50 major cities and 35 states.

We spoke with CEO Arieanne Stern to learn more about her journey and Instapark.

1. Could you explain your background and how Instapark came to fruition?

The idea came after overpaying for parking when headed to a meeting at Bryant Park in Midtown NYC. It was simply due to lack of information. We were meeting up at Bryant Park located between 40th & 42nd Street. We parked at the first lot we saw on 44th and 6th ave, figuring that it was close enough. We realized afterwards that there were other parking lots that were both closer and less expensive. That’s what inspired me to create a parking search engine that would help the average user find the best rates for parking in any city and pay for it ahead of time to secure a spot and avoid any lost time waiting in line to pay.

2. When did you make the decision to go full-time with Instapark?

It was after the success of our pilot project to prove out the concept. We launched a small minimal test site in Miami, Fl. We focused on cruise parking being that they tend to plan in advance and ports tend to charge (some might say overcharge) being that they have a captive audience. It seemed like a perfect test bed for our price/location comparison model.

3. What has been your biggest struggle thus far and how did you overcome it?

Ensuring a positive user experience. We are extremely customer focused. We are providing a digital solution to an old industry where things have not changed much since its birth. We found it to be a mixed bag where some parking operators are forward-thinking and try their best to provide the customer with a pleasant parking experience, while others just want to continue doing things the way they always have. Our challenge was identifying the great parking lots from the not-so-great. We implemented a code of conduct and a customer bill of rights agreement for operators that we partnered with and created a customer ratings based feedback loop that directly tied into parking lot rankings. Better reviewed lots were pushed to the top of our results while negative reviewed lots were deranged and in some cases delisted. We leveraged out code of conduct and customer bill of rights agreement to financially penalize bad operators and issue refunds and payments to any dissatisfied customers.

4. Do you have any advice for other female entrepreneurs looking to achieve their goals as well as how to balance work and life?

Where to start! As a female living the role of “entrepreneur” you will encounter both conscious and unconscious bias that unfortunately still plays a significant role in the way people treat females, especially a female CEO bootstrapping a startup. On top of that, we women tend to place a ton of pressure on ourselves, as we aim to prove that we can kill it in all arenas, motherhood and in the workplace. What I have learned, first and foremost, is that it is ok to ask for help, and that it is extremely important to take time for yourself. Taking care of you will ultimately help you be a stronger person in whichever role you are in at any given time: mom, wife, CEO.

It was through my personal experience during the beginning of this journey that I learned where I was going wrong as I tried juggling these many roles. I found myself at home, I would stress about the work that needed to get done and then feeling guilty for not being 100% mentally present with the kids. This limbo state of mind just exhausted me. Ultimately, all it did was make me feel terrible for not doing work and feeling guilty for thinking about work when I should be 100% focused on my kids. It was through my personal experience that I made the decision that when I am in mom-mode, my kids and husband are my world, no thinking of anything else or worrying about anything else. It helped me be a better mom and so much more pleasant to be around! On the flipside, when I am in work-mode, it’s time to handle business! I found I had less regrets of where my time took me. My advice for those moms (and dads) out there trying to find their foothold in any industry, it’s important to recognize that we can’t do it all on our own, raising a family does take a village, we all can use help. Live with less regrets, find time for yourself, and ask for help when you need it, it all leads to helping you be the best version of you. Keep your eye on the ball and keep in mind your goals. I break these up into 2 categories: immediate objectives and long term goals. It is easy to get sidetracked by immediate tasks, so it’s important to keep in mind how these tasks fit in (or don’t fit) with your long term goals.

I’m also obsessed with task lists. Every morning and night I create update my lists. I also highly recommend reading The Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Right. It makes for a great read and as an interesting fact, Jack Dorsey gives it to everyone he hires. Another great book is Zero to One by VC, PayPal co-founder, and early Facebook investor, Peter Thiel.

5. What are your goals for the future of Instapark?

A: We are living in a remarkable time, there are fast moving advances and disrupting apps that are revolutionizing and in some cases obliterating industries (think purpose driven Uber & Lyft vs Taxies that drove around randomly). We hope that we will be a part of what’s next, Airbnb for parking, yes we have that, integrating with self driving cars by supplying a place to park and recharge. To state it generally, our main goal is always to run alongside innovation and help be a catalyst for what lies ahead making parking as frictionless and ubiquitous as possible.

To learn more about Instapark visit: Instapark.co

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