Chris Reed in the Den
Following a successful appearance on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, the entrepreneur behind the North East tech company continues his mission to boost the UK’s fading High Streets.
After securing an offer from Dragon Jenny Campbell, businessman Chris Reed is now hoping to help to reverse the decline in our town centres with his app ParkingPerx.
ParkingPerx is a loyalty app that not only rewards shoppers who spend in the High Street with money off parking fees, but also eliminates the stress and hassle of parking which for many are a barrier to shopping locally.
“It’s a simple idea”, said Chris, “when you spend money in offline, High Street businesses, you earn credit which can be accumulated and used to pay for your parking on this or your next visit.”
He explained, “Merchants can base your reward on how much you spend or even link it to a specific product, range or service allowing them to connect particular promotions with the offer of FREE Parking – something which is more compelling, and which will be redeemed more actively than store-based loyalty points”.
The benefits don’t stop there. “There’s no need for ticket machines, no worries about rushing back to your car and no threat of parking tickets” said Chris, “We’ve even enhanced on the current process for cashless parking with some clever tech, so there’s no need to find and enter location codes and no need to call any voice recognition software.
“You park up, which triggers a prompt on your phone and you respond. That’s it. You can be on your way in under 10 seconds – it really is hassle free, cost free parking”.
After a successful trial in Sunderland, Kirsty Currie, Business Manager for Sunderland Business Improvement District said, “ParkingPerx is a fantastic opportunity to re-think parking and provide visitors with incentives to shop locally and support their local Town’s and City centres.”
ParkingPerx has already been described as “potentially transformational for town centres” by Liam Maxwell, in his role as National Tech Advisor to HM Govt, and Chris now has plans to deploy ParkingPerx into additional pilot towns over the coming months before rolling out the solution nationally.
However, despite some early success, including being named one of the 50 most innovative tech Companies in England and being shortlisted for NatWest’s Great British ‘High Street Entrepreneur’ of the Year, Chris spent several months prior to the Den trying, but failing, to secure the investment he needed to take the business forward.
“I was at a pretty low point and almost ready to give up on the business when the opportunity to appear on Dragons’ Den arose. I must admit I was a bit apprehensive about appearing but thought I had nothing to lose and everything to gain”
So how was his experience in the Den?
“It’s by far the hardest thing I’ve had to do in business and I came away feeling a bit punch drunk.
“However, I learned SO much from each of the Dragons even though not all of them offered investment. I’ve used their feedback since the show to adapt my strategy and the result has been some significant traction which will accelerate market penetration.
“For example, Peter Jones, after initially giving very positive feedback about my idea, explained his reasons why the investment wasn’t right for him in a way that got me thinking differently.
“But of course, I was delighted to get an offer from Jenny Campbell, who was incredibly impressive in the Den. She really understood what I was trying to achieve and following the Den she has proven to be a hugely valuable resource, helping me complete important milestones and shape my plans for growth. Jenny also introduced me to parking technology leader RingGo.”
Chris’ Company, ProxiSmart Ltd, has successfully secured additional offers of investment and is now working exclusively in partnership with RingGo, the UK’s largest cashless parking solutions provider, who are established in over 400 locations across the UK.
ParkingPerx will hit several pilot town centres over the coming months with a view to further rolling out across the UK’s High Streets. Priority will be given to where there is greatest interest among consumers and merchants, so Chris is urging anyone who is interested in helping their local High Street to get in touch.
To find out more visit ParkingPerx website.
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