Malaysia's Smarter Way to Park

July 8, 2018

Imagine this: You are sent to the nearby restaurant to have some food packed for your mum. You jump into your car, drive to your mum's favourite mixed rice restaurant and spot the nearest empty parking lot amidst all the honking and double parking only to find your city council officers out-and-about with their "buku saman" in hand, on their routine rounds. You drive around the block for about 2 minutes hoping they would have moved on to another area by then but return only to find them still there. You then drive into the parking lot, hesitantly, and begin rummaging for some loose change that you can feed the meter with. You find that you manage to gather about RM 0.30 and head to the nearest meter with a glee on your face (because after all, it is just RM 0.30) and realise that the meter isn't even working!This is a typical scenario for many of us Malaysians. And it's 2018, for goodness sake!*sniff**sniff* smells like an opportunity for an innovative solution here and all we need is an entrepreneur to come up with one.Well, one Malaysian entrepreneur did sniff out that opportunity and came up with a digitized solution that would ease Malaysia's parking woes. JomParking has a vision to bring parking payment convenience to all drivers - not just in Malaysia but in our neighbouring countries across the Southeast Asian region too. The 13 men strong team comprising of tech and business developers, marketeers, financers and support staff is headed by Muhamad Nasir Habizar, the brains behind JomParking.Nasir started off in the telecommunications industry. With 8 years experience in hand, his focus was on mobile content delivery through the short messaging system (SMS), which at that point in time was viewed as a sunset industry. Nasir then ventured into mobile application development.When asked "What inspired you to start your startup?", Nasir's answer was one that was straightforward- "I was inspired to tackle a problem that could benefit our society in the long run. We should not be having such an issue. Not with all these technology around us and not in this age! JomParking offers its users a convenient way to pay for parking via a mobile application. We wanted to take a very pragmatic approach in curbing this issue by nipping it in the bud"JomParking is available for download on Google Play and Apple App Store. New users would just have to create an account by following the registration process (one-time only) and top up to gain tokens - which of course can be done online. The app can be used for both on-street as well as off-street parking.For on-street parking, all you are required to do on the app is to insert your vehicle registration number, select your zone location which the location system will aid you in auto-detecting- with the help of GPS of course- and select your parking duration. You would then have to select the "P" logo on the app to indicate that you have parked your vehicle and voil�! A timer will be displayed to indicate the duration of your occupancy in the parking lot which you will also have the opportunity to extend (since you have already prepaid for the tokens) should you feel you would be occupying the parking for a longer than expected duration. YIPPEEE! no more running back-and-forth to faulty parking meters!...and it gets a whole load easier for off-street parking. Just scan the QR code available at the parking entrance and the parking timer will be activated on the app. Scan the QR code again upon exiting, your prepaid tokens will be auto-deducted and the boom gate will open up for your exit - all in a matter of seconds, making parking tickets and coupons so pass�.JomParking is a graduate of MaGIC's Global Accelerator Programme (GAP) Cohort 1 where they started with an initial baseline of 36,000 users.Today, with the exposure to and vital sessions on finance, pitching, business development and legal, they have over 100,000 users with a majority of them being in the Klang Valley and are aiming to cover the whole of Malaysia within the next 1-2 years. They admit their biggest takeaway from GAP was the connections they tied and relationships they forged throughout the 4-month accelerator.Early this year, JomParking secured RM 4 Million worth of funds from Kairous Capital, a regional private equity and venture capital firm that focuses on investing in mid-sized companies in China and ASEAN that are aimed at disrupting existing industries. They believe technology will bring significant impact to businesses within the region in the decades to come and are eager to be part of it. Kairous Capital goes beyond capital provisions and have adopted an active approach in managing their investments to create value for their investees thus increasing their chances of success.JomParking was keen to work with them due to their strong synergy and experiences with payment solutions. They have shared that the RM 4 million will be used for advertising, promotion and research & development seeing that the startup is a homegrown product that will require heavy R & D to enhance the features of their product that will be continuously tweaked to the needs of the customers.JomParking definitely kicked-off 2018 with a bang as a few months after securing funds from Kairous Capital, they signed a tripartite partnership with another MaGIC alumnus, SERV and believes the collaboration will create a high impact solution, with users able to benefit from parking payment, battery replacement and car servicing. The startups have described the collaboration as a more convenient way to help drivers resolve their driving and car maintenance issues.According to Nasir "resource sharing is absolutely vital towards attaining our goals. As such, we have also formed a cross-functional team to solve issues faced by all three startups aside from sharing our database bringing our users to approximately 200,000. The collaboration opens up opportunities for all 3 startups while offering value-added services for our customers without the pricetag."JomParking is currently available at selected parking spaces managed by Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL), Majlis Perbandaran Jasin in Melaka, Majlis Perbandaran Tawau, Sabah and Majlis Bandaraya Iskandar Puteri, Johor. They are also available in the Klang Valley at the TSI Sports Arena, Cyberjaya, Selangor, Cybersquare in Cyberjaya and LRT PWTC Station in Kuala Lumpur. They are in pursuit of more partnership opportunities with parking operators, local councils, startups as well as organisations.Nasir shares, "the team is constantly scouring around trying to foster collaborations and attain as much knowledge and advice as we can. Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. It is a lonely journey that requires an admirable amount of longanimity and diligence. Thankfully, we have agencies such as MaGIC, Cradle, and MDeC to support us through this - especially when we've hit roadblocks, and trust me, you will hit numerous roadblocks when you're just starting up. We need agencies like these to be our sounding board to allow us to bounce right back into action. Sometimes all we really need is a nudge from them- and it is not just the agencies- corporates, mentors, ecosystem players and especially serial entrepreneurs who have been through it before are instrumental to the success of startups. In the U.S, they have the valley. A whole city filled with innovators, think tanks and a ton of funds to support the uprising startups. We do not have that here. This is why our connections with ecosystem players are a necessity."Today, JomParking is focusing their efforts on business development as well as talent development within the internal team and are looking for more ways to improve their core system while making the user experience on their app a priority.Written