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We are publishing an interview of Mr. Sakyabrata Dutta – Director, Peazy – A Kolkata based startup which is disrupting the indian parking industry by using ai/modern techniques.
Please tell us about the founders
The co-founders, Sakya and Mahul, are batch-mates from engineering college at IIEST Shibpur (2009). Post engineering, Sakya went on to complete his MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur (2011) and started building a career as a marketing professional with MNCs such as Nestle, Emami and OLX. Mahul continued building his career in tech by working with global majors such as IBM, Samsung, CISCO and Microsoft.
While working in his last role as Regional Manager for OLX, Sakya had to drive around Kolkata city quite frequently, and that’s when he faced trouble finding parking almost on a daily basis. This led to the idea of creating a parking locator that’ll help drivers find parking nearby at the tap of a button.
The team explored various solution options, including deployment of sensors and cameras to identify empty spots, to working with local municipalities to create a platform for citizens. But the unique nature of the Indian market threw up a multitude of challenges which meant that the traditional approaches to solving this problem would not work. Deployment of sensors and cameras proved to be too expensive for India, where parking prices are some of the lowest in the world. Local municipalities showed interest, but were slow to respond.
That’s when the duo stumbled upon the idea of using artificial intelligence on crowd sourced GPS data to identify available parking.
What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
We are helping drivers locate parking without having to drive around searching for a spot. The top 6 cities of India have in excess of 5 million private four wheelers, but less than 2000 public parking lots to cater to the demand. A study by IBM suggests that urban commuters can spend upto 10-15 minutes ‘cruising’ looking for a parking spot. This in turn contributes to 30% of a city’s traffic congestion. With the advent of navigation apps on our phones, people know the road to take to their destination, but that solves effectively half the problem. Since, once you have arrived, you still need to figure out where to park.
What is the uniqueness about your Startup?
The Indian parking industry is predominantly Government controlled (Municipal Corporations) and has seen little to no innovation over the decades. Also, around 85% of the parking market is on-street (the corresponding figure for developed nations is 35-40%). On-street parking is almost impossible to monitor without extensive investments. We bypass these issues by leveraging GPS information of parking users. Our platform is ‘By the Users, For the Users’. Users can use this platform for free. Their information is used in turn to help guide other users as well. We use state of the art AI algorithms to accurately predict availability (our algorithm predicts availability with a precision of 99%) from the raw GPS data. This is our USP. We are using a modern technique to disrupt an age old industry that has resisted change for decades.
Why do you choose crowdfunding?
Peazy is a free and democratic platform- ‘By the Users, For the Users’. We believe that people who face the parking problem almost daily, will come forward to join hands with us and help us solve the problem. Crowdfunding allows us to reach such people directly. Those that are affected the most by the problem can be reached directly via a crowdfunding campaign.
Why should anyone or investor back you?
Our venture is a first of its kind, attempting to solve a problem that affects millions of drivers daily. We are here, along with other members of the ecosystem, to define the future of the parking industry. Investors should back us if they want to be part of the future of parking.
Where can people back your project?
Our crowdfunding campaign is live on Catapooolt at http://www.catapooolt.com/campaign/info/title/peazy-?camp=PEAK91CGR0&pid=NTY2&uid=NjY0MA==
What would you do after raising funds?
We will use the funds to launch our android app which is currently in the testing phase. Once that is done, we will work on extending the coverage of our product.
What is the revenue model? What is the logic behind it? Explain your thought process.
We have two revenue sources- 1) We monetize our parking data through navigation companies who provide in car navigation services. TomTom, the dutch navigation major, was the first company to buy parking data for 6 cities from us, 2) We intend to provide value added services to our end users, like Confirmed Availability once we have a user base.
Who are the consumers that you are targeting? How is this going to affect them?
The consumers we are targeting are essentially self drivers in metro cities. These people regularly face the challenge of identifying safe and legal places to park their cars. With Peazy, they can find the nearest available lot on their phones.
What is the big picture of your startup? Will it lead to something bigger? If so, how?
Our solution is relevant for any developing market, where cash strapped municipalities cannot afford to invest in parking infrastructure like parking meters or sensors. We hope to be able to take our product across the World one day.
What is the success story of your startup in your own words?
The parking industry in India is a difficult one to survive in. The prices are low, the authorities work very slowly and there’s no physical infrastructure that startups can rely on. We have faced multiple rejections. We have tried many a different approach and failed. We have re-skilled and adapted to survive, but finally we have created something that solves the problem. Our solution can be much better and we are working tirelessly to make it a reality, but after a year and a half of facing rejections we have succeeded in finding a path that is win win for everyone. We believe this path leads to the future of the parking industry, and we hope you will join us, as we continue down this path and build for tomorrow.
Thanks Mr. Sakya. Best of luck!