We sat down with Parking Panda CEO Nick Miller to learn how the company changing the way we experience parking got its start, and how it’s using Braintree to make the payment portion seamless.
How and why did Parking Panda get started?
Parking Panda started out of personal experience. I grew up going to Ravens games in Baltimore and would see people standing outside the stadium with signs selling their personal parking spots for $20-$30 dollars. Then, going to school at Georgetown in Washington D.C., I had been issued a parking space that I never used - it was wasted. With such a high demand for parking and available spots going unused, I knew there had to be a way to connect the two. The industry was ripe for innovation, and that’s how our online marketplace came to be.
Parking is traditionally such an awful experience that there are full TV episodes (Seinfeld, New Girl) dedicated to it. How are you changing the way people think and feel about parking?
Before Parking Panda came about, the parking industry hadn’t changed in years. You plan everything else in advance - things like dinner reservations or concert tickets - except parking. Parking is something you do at the last minute and hope you can find a space; until now, it’s been a very inefficient process. We’re flipping that on its head and want to make it part of the planning process. When you buy a ticket, you reserve a parking spot and have guaranteed peace of mind.
What’s your vision for the future of Parking Panda?
For us, it’s really about scale. We have a model that works and want to see it in more cities. Our goal is to make the consumer experience around parking as simple and as user-friendly as possible. We also want to see the entire industry evolve so that we’re better utilizing the resources that already exist.
The collaborative consumption model has taken off - what do you feel the future holds for it and where does Parking Panda fit in?
The collaborative consumption model will continue to scale. It’s all about being as efficient as possible and using the resources we already have. Parking Panda is part of that community in that we have the same goal - to use the parking spaces we have more efficiently. We don’t need to build new garages, we just need to better utilize the ones we already have.
What milestones have you hit since launching?
We launched in 2011 in one city with just a few parking locations. We’re now in more than 50 cities and have over two million parking spots. We’ve also done a lot of cool things along the way - we’ve expanded from just a destination site to creating some really interesting partnerships. For example, in D.C., when you buy a ticket from Monumental Sports you can buy a parking spot at the same time.
What were the payment challenges you faced when getting started and how has Braintree helped solve them?
We faced several challenges when it came to the payments part of our business. We needed a trusted and quick way to process credit cards, collect money and then payout the parking facilities. Braintree has been a huge help in making this integration seamless, so that we’re able to bring in money and work with appropriate parties to pay the parking facility.
As we began to expand, we also needed to be able to collect foreign currencies for those visiting the U.S. and accommodate users on any platform - mobile, desktop, tablet. Braintree makes it easy to serve all of our customers regardless of what language they speak and where they’re accessing us from.
Why did you choose Braintree?
We chose Braintree because it’s so easy to work with them. It takes mere moments to implement. The APIs are clean and easy to use, making it easier for us to focus on other areas of the business. We also know Braintree is completely up to code. Within the parking industry, people are very concerned with being PCI compliance. We’re able to meet those regulations because of Braintree. And we’ve seen this level of trust out in the field as well - whenever we tell a partner we use Braintree, they’ve never doubted or questioned whether we’re compliant.