Kris

Krzysztof Marszałek

rst-it.com

Can you say in one sentence what Vallie startup is about and what it does?

Vallie avatar

Robin Doble and Nash Islam

Vallie.co.uk

Vallie is London’s first on-demand parking service that saves drivers time & money by parking their car for them.

by Krzysztof Marszałek — 23 FEB 2016

Can you briefly explain how you arrived at the current stage? How did Vallie evolve?

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RN

Vallie.co.uk

We started building the product in May, we launched our pilot in downtown London (known as the Square Mile) in November and we’re now planning to expand throughout the West End of London.

Do you use any online tools while managing your business?

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RN

Vallie.co.uk

Yes, we use a lot!

Slack for everything, from system notifications to chatting with our Vallies in the field and remote developer team

WhenIWork for managing our workforce

Intercom for customer support

Intuit Workforce for recruiting

Buffer for social media

Segment & Mixpanel for analytics.
And lots more!

What made you assume there is a space for a product like yours on the market?

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RN

Vallie.co.uk

Parking is a problem people are passionate about in London. Just see Twitter for all the complaints.

How would you describe London startup scene?

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RN

Vallie.co.uk

The London startup scene is large and vibrant. There are lots of events, start up programs and startups themselves! London is really great at fin-tech startups.

What are the biggest risks and chances of your market?

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RN

Vallie.co.uk

The biggest risk is educating customers and changing their current behavior. It's a big change in mindset from parking yourself on the street or nearby car park versus handing your car over to someone else. Culturally, valet parking is much more prevalent in the US than in the UK

Who is Vallie's biggest competitor?

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RN

Vallie.co.uk

Our biggest competitors are on street parking and commercial car parks in the UK. There also parking booking sites like JustPark and YourParkingSpace but their model is very different from ours and we can actually partner.
The major on demand parking companies from the US - Luxe & Zirx - are likely to land in London soon.

Are there any books on startups that you've read and would recommend?

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RN

Vallie.co.uk

I personally really liked The Startup of You by Reid Hoffman & Ben Casnocha. The Hard Thing About Hard Things was a long read but great detail on the trials of entrepreneurship. Zero To One was great insight into how both investors and entrepreneurs should think about business opportunities.

Did you get inspired by other startups which in your opinion are built in the right way? Can you name them?

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RN

Vallie.co.uk

In London, we were really inspired by both Deliveroo & Uber. Deliveroo, particularly when it was a website only, delivered an extremely simple UI and great customer experience. Their estimates for delivery were precise down to the minute. That’s changed a bit as they scaled but the early phenomenal user experience of Deliveroo led to great word of mouth. They did this not just by technology but by great analytical and operational expertise. Vallie hopes to do the same for parking.

What are the main challenges - other than fundraising - of a startup founder before launching the product?

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RN

Vallie.co.uk

The main challenge is assessing demand and creating the go-to market plan. We choose to start in the City of London borough, aka the Square Mile, because we want to start with the business commuter market and have more predictable timing to run our pilot.

How does Vallie's business model look like?

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RN

Vallie.co.uk

We build relationships with parking operators that give us discounts and we resell parking to the customer. We make a margin on that transaction

What factors did you take into consideration while deciding on the technology for your business? Did anybody help you with that?

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RN

Vallie.co.uk

We thought deeply about the user experience of both the customer and Vallie. In our transaction, which generally happens less than 10 minutes after requesting, it’s important that both customer and Vallie know each other’s locations. As we’re collecting location data throughout the transaction, there’s a lot of data to manage and optimize for. We were lucky to have experienced team members and advisor. Our lead iOS developer was an early developer of the taxi app Hailo and had great experience in building iOS location-based apps. The AWS team and our data science advisor Christian helped us to decide on the right stack to start with.

Do you have an investor? If yes, at what stage did you start talking to an investor and why?

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RN

Vallie.co.uk

Our current investors are all friends & family. We will seek to raise an institutional round later this year.

What do you wish you'd known when you became CEO?

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RN

Vallie.co.uk

I wish I’d known which marketing channels would be most successful for acquiring customers and also the number of Vallies we need to successfully run operations (which is lower than I expected!)

What are Vallie’s plans for next 6 months?

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RN

Vallie.co.uk

Continue expanding our service area through London while consistently offering customers a great experience. We’ll also begin to layer on some additional car services like car washes, refueling & MOT checks

Can you convince the reader to start using Vallie in 2 sentences?

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RN

Vallie.co.uk

At £5 per hour, Vallie is nearly the same price as on-street parking while allowing you to drive directly to your destination without worrying about parking.

Thanks for the interview Nash and Robin.

Questions? Comments? If you are considering launching your own tech startup, feel free to drop us a line below or pop me an email at k@rst-it.com. We're ready to help.

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