Name: Tim Wanders
Tim, one of the founders of WeParc, started his carreer as business consultant after a bachelor in International Business Administration and a master in Financial Management. In 2016 he started WeParc, together with two co-founders.
Hi Tim, your startup WeParc is in short a valet parking service via your smartphone. Can you tell us how you came up with this idea?
I started the company nine months ago with two co-founders. Two of us live in the centre of Amsterdam and have to deal with the struggle of finding a parking spot on a daily basis. Besides the difficulty in parking my own car, when my friends come over for dinner they always complain about having to pay 20-25 euros to park their car for the evening.
At the same time, I noticed that most commercial parking lots in the city are never fully booked, leaving a lot of empty spots. So I started thinking about the possibilities of better matching supply and demand in the parking sector. We decided technology (in the form of an app) was the way to go and named our solution WeParc: a smartphone app which allows you to let your car be picked up, parked and returned to you at any given location and time.
Alright, that sounds great. But where did you start? What was the first step to take?
I started by analyzing the market and doing some desk research. Was I the only one experiencing the problem? How big is the market? What should be the focus? Then, I started thinking about how technology could be used to solve it. I couldn’t code myself so looked for solid partners who shared my vision and wanted to join the project. From there on we made our first version of the app and tested intensively with our launching customers.
In what stage is the company now?
At the moment we are live in the whole city of Amsterdam on iOS. Together with our solid partner network, we target daily commuters, tourists and daily visitors of the city. One of our new features are subscriptions that allow users to park 5 days a week for a pre-determined monthly price. With this product, we now mainly target corporates and SME’s in the business districts in Amsterdam. Android will follow soon.
What was the biggest challenge so far?
Our biggest challenge so far has been to nail our three-sided marketplace perfectly. We continuously need to find an optimal balance between parking spots, employees, and customer requests. It turned out to be way more complex than I initially thought.
Did you make some bloopers in this startup adventure?
You learn a lot along the way. For example, I’ve been naïve a couple of times when it came to talks with potential launching customers. I thought we were very close to making a deal with one of them, but it the processes ended up taking forever and we ended up nowhere. So lesson number one is that you shouldn’t expect a deal until the ink is dry!
Why did you want to participate in the Get Started programme?
I wanted to join Get Started particularly for the network. The moment I joined the program I realized I was a bit further than some other participants because I was working on my idea some longer than others. Nevertheless, I really liked being part of a group of like-minded people with an entrepreneurial mentality. Meeting them gave a boost to my network.
What is the best advice you’ve got during the programme?
That technology isn’t everything. I was so thrilled to put AI processes in the technology of the app but reaching out to peers I realized that fully automate everything wasn’t possible at this stage. It simply can’t be perfect at the beginning so it was better to find temporary solutions for some things instead. As long as you have a clear vision regarding what direction you want to go.
What is your advice to others who want to start their startup?
It might be a cliché, but I’ve definitely found it do be true: just do it. Also, don’t forget there are many different ways to get to where you want to be. You have more than one shot to make something happen, so don’t give up too easily.