Ben is a 21-year-old Senior at Washington University in St. Louis, and started BestParking.com which offers a very simple design. The site was inspired by “an episode of Seinfeld in which George refuses to pay for a parking space.”
Motorists can use the site (for free) to compare all parking rates and locations in and around a destination city or airport.
Thanks for your time on YHP Ben, How are you doing?
I’m well, thank you.
Ben, can you please give us some background information about yourself and what you do?
I’m a 21-year-old Senior at Washington University in St. Louis, and started BestParking.com a few years back. Motorists can use the site (for free) to compare all parking rates and locations in and around a destination city or airport. We like to think of ourselves as the “Priceline” of Parking. A handful of parking operators advertise guaranteed rates and parking reservations via our site.
Why inspired you to start a parking site?
I was watching an episode of Seinfeld in which George refuses to pay an exorbitant amount of money for a parking space. Having been born and raised in Manhattan, I knew how stressful parking was for motorists, and there were no good solutions to motorists’ pain. I hopped on a bike and canvassed the city for months, understanding the industry and plotting Manhattan parking facilities.
Did you have any doubts when you started?
I didn’t have any idea how I was going to monetize the idea.
What was the most important lesson you have learnt?
Build something that you and at least five of your friends or family would actually use. If only you think an idea is worthwhile, be careful before investing in it.
Who is your role model/influence?
My father started a legal publishing venture while I was in middle school. My mom’s side of the family owned a business selling men’s pajamas. So my parents would be my role models/influences.
Who has been your key figure in the progress of your business?
My father – he has helped me out tremendously and is a partner in the firm.
Anything you would like to have done differently if you could go back in time?
Taken more risks that, looking back, would have paid off. Of course, it’s easy to say after the fact.
Did you ever think it would turn out to be as popular as it is?
It’s been over 3 years since we launched, and our growth is still linear. So we’re still waiting for the hockey-stick growth curve.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
It’s cliché – if at first you don’t succeed, try try again.
How many hours do you work daily and what are your daily tasks for your sites?
I manage our programmers, content team, and graphic designer. My workday varies depending on the amount of schoolwork I need to complete. Some days I work 8 hours, while other days I work 3 hours. I’ll step it up after I graduate in May.
Have you any plans (personal or business) that you can share with us about your future plans / goals / lifetime goals?
I’m going to see this idea through completion. It will either succeed or fail.
What do you like best about the Internet?
Everything is real-time. I can post an advertisement on AdWords and immediately see my return.
Do you have any suggestions for coping with set-backs, negative experiences?
I failed at my first venture, ezdtrade.com. Rather, I was unable to market it. But, instead of sticking with an idea that wouldn’t succeed, I focused all my effort on BestParking.com.
Have you had to make any changes because of current financial situation?
The business has done better since the recession. More motorists are interested in saving money on parking and parking facilities are no longer near 100% capacity.
What advice would you give to a Young Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
If it’s an online business, spend the few hundred bucks on a good domain name.
Thanks for your time Ben