We sat down with the founder and CEO of YourParkingSpace, Harrison Woods to find out how the business has adapted to life in lockdown, where they see future opportunities arising and to understand the remarkable steps taken to support the NHS.
The biggest lesson I have learnt during this crisis is to trust your instincts and act before you need to. If you are making decisions because you have no other choice – it is probably too late.
The decisions we made as a company in the early days of this crisis have not only been instrumental in our survival, but they have opened the door to new opportunities.
YouParkingSpace is built on the movement and transport of people so we knew fast action was required. The crisis also hit us at an interesting time. We were in a period of rapid growth and the second week of March was our fastest growth week ever- yet just seven days later the UK was preparing for lockdown.
Our initial focus was survival. This meant ensuring the health of the business and the first two weeks were spent organising ourselves – paying off suppliers and reassuring staff financially we could cope.
Once we were confident in our strength, we made another crucial decision: to slingshot. We are not the type of company to wait for something to blow over and we started to work on how we could make the best of this extraordinary time.
We decided to return to our ‘start-up mentality.’ Right now, we have time to re-evaluate what we wanted our product to really be and have refined our offering across all platforms. The breathing room has refreshed us and when normality returns, our product will be better tuned to scale.
Looking at the bigger picture, one silver lining in this time has been the outpouring of support for key workers. And whilst we can all agree the NHS is outstanding – many would also agree its parking is a nightmare.
Parking can be a significant source of income for hospitals, but its capacity is far below its need, and it is not uncommon for NHS workers to pay up to £30 to park. Considering the average wage of a nurse, this is an unfair financial burden. Recognising there was something substantial we could do to help, gave us an incentive to pivot fast.
Working closely with our commercial partners – from supermarkets, to retail parks, and even private driveways – we used our app to provide free parking to all NHS workers nationally.
To date, we have had more than 20,000 NHS subscribers – and knowing we are making their day a little easier has been a huge motivation.
The crisis has been a lesson in expecting the unexpected, and in the future, we hope our relationship with the NHS continues. We cannot offer free parking forever, and when shops and restaurants re-open, we cannot ask our commercial partners to provide free space.
However, price comparisons developed by our analytical team have discovered that local parking areas offered better value for NHS workers than their own hospital, and we have received feedback that many will continue to use these spaces, in order to save space for patients. Our commercial partners are also keen to continue to support the organisation and we are currently reviewing how we can utilise our analytics systems to continue to offer support and discounted rates when normality returns.
Whilst the future looks uncertain, Level39 members should take comfort in the fact that they are perfectly positioned to advantage from the new opportunities arising. This will not be business as usual – COVID-19 will be the driving force behind digitalisation, with C-suite execs at the old encumberments desperately trying to keep up with the pace, too often held back by layers of bureaucracy.
The start-up mentality of our community puts us in a strong position to disrupt and make our mark on the sector.
For further information,
Canary Wharf Group plc
020 7418 2166