As the founder of AppyParking, Dan has done pretty much everything that isn’t build code. With an advertising background, he explains his journey to tech startup and beyond.
What is it the company does?
AppyParking is an easy-to-use app that takes the stress out of parking by helping users to make informed, well-considered decisions when out and about. The app allows drivers to see controlled parking zones, car parks in selected cities and directs users to their preferred spot, via sat nav.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
Being a Founder and CEO, I’ve been in every role in the company, aside from the more technical ones, at one point or another. Luckily, I’ve now got a team of 18 amazing people around me who are far more qualified to look after specific tasks. This has allowed me to spend less time on the day-to-day detail and more time on developing outbound relationships to help grow the company further and maximise its value. That being said, my role still covers marketing, new business, product design, finance, hiring and, of course, listening to my team and keeping them happy.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I studied communications and advertising at Central St Martins before going on to work as a Creative Director at London’s top advertising agencies for 13 years. In 2012, when I was still working full time at one of these agencies, I challenged myself to collage data for every Controlled Parking Zone in London.
It was then that I realised how the fragmented nature of the public and private sector was leaving drivers confused and unsure of where they could park. A year later, I set up Yellow Line Parking, which was a free mobile app that covered all of London’s controlled parking zones including rules about Bank Holidays and Match Day times. This has since grown into AppyParking.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Positivity is contagious, kindness is compelling, creativity is inspiring, communication is key, honesty is humbling and delegation is uniting. If you can do all these in a day then I’d certainly like to work for you.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
The biggest challenge in my current position is to stay close to the business and keep inspiring the team, while at the same time going out and raising investment. Raising finance is extremely hard and you have to kiss a lot of frogs. It’s often extremely time consuming and unfortunately 9/10 your efforts come to nothing. Ultimately, it’s a test of your own endurance, and the ability to maintain stamina and momentum back at HQ.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Everyone has their own way of dealing with the stress that comes hand in hand with being a CEO or Founder, for me the biggest stress alleviator is ensuring I cycle to and from work every day. Often it can also be difficult to switch off, but spending time with family and friends is a great way to relieve stress and stay grounded.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was younger I wanted to become an architect but I soon realised it required chemistry, which was not my strong point.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Magic FM! Turn it off!
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
At AppyParking our ambition is to make parking a truly forgettable experience and to be the go to provider for autonomous parking and traffic management solutions globally. I believe that closer we get to achieving these goals the more technology and data driven solutions will become part of the fabric of smart cities. So, in five years AppyParking will be making cites less congested and polluted and its civilians more productive without anyone even knowing we’re there.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
The best piece of advice I can offer is never take no for an answer, never give up and believe in your idea no matter what anyone else says.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
In the early days of AppyParking, someone told me to figure out exactly what I needed to do in order to reach my ultimate end goal, and then work backwards. I wish I’d taken him up on that piece of advice and realised what I was getting myself in for!