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Dubai Startup Park Key Helps You Find That Elusive Parking Spot The platform operates as a typical on-demand platform, allowing parking seekers to explore parking locations, pricing etc., and book slots online.

By Sindhu Hariharan

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Park Key
Adnan Masood, CEO, Adza Digital, and founder, Park Key

Are you a person who prefers to take public transport just to avoid the hassles of finding a parking spot for your car? You may not be the only one. With structured parking systems being a key issue for urban planning authorities globally, the UAE too faces its share of challenges in this area. Adnan Masood, CEO, Adza Digital, and the founder of Park Key, felt these problems too, as he found his meetings getting delayed frequently because of him driving around in circles trying to find a parking spot. That's when his entrepreneurial side took over, and he quit his corporate job to implement what he considers a "better solution than [the] current way."

With over 16 years of corporate experience, holding senior positions in global Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies, Masood was most recently Director of Marketing at du, in UAE. He admits that his background has helped him grow Park Key, with the platform hosting around 2100 spots over 600 locations across Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. Masood calls Park Key an online platform connecting parking seekers with parking providers. "Everyone thinks that there is not enough parking, but surveys show that there are many empty spots available across town, but there is no way one can find them," says Masood, highlighting why it's not a structural issue, but just a gap that technology can bridge. "We order food, or reserve a cinema seat we like online, so why can't we book parking online?" he asks.

Park Key launched in early 2016, and since then, Masood claims that the venture has grown "over 107% month on month," perhaps in a testimony to the need for the service they aim to provide. The platform operates as a typical on-demand platform, allowing parking seekers to explore parking locations, pricing etc., and book slots online. The technology offers instant confirmation for bookings, and also helps users navigate to the spot. On the other side, parking providers can advertise spots, close secure cashless transactions, and ensure efficient utilization of their parking spaces. One may wonder how a technology platform can ensure that those allotted parking spaces online actually get access to it out there on the real world, and rightly so. Clarifying this query, Masood says, "Park Key's service doesn't stop online and we deliver seamless experience on ground through our partners." He adds that the company works closely with business partners to "ensure that parking spot allocated for the customer is available when the customer arrives."

Image credit: Park Key.
Having used his own funds for starting up the business, Masood says fundraising figures as a key priority for the startup, so as to meet its targets to make "parking more convenient by end of the year, and expand to rest of GCC early next year." He adds that thanks to it being aligned with the UAE government's Smart City ambitions, Park Key has a huge potential to collaborate for public private partnerships going forward, and hence benefit users in large scale. But of course, it's still early days for the platform, which is currently a web-only model, with the startup working on bringing out its mobile app soon.

Q&A with Adnan Masood, founder, Park Key

Adnan Masood, founder and CEO, Park Key.Image credit: Park Key.

How have you gone about getting the message across about your business?

"We have been very fortunate that partners have welcomed us, and only took a couple of appointments to sign partnerships. The bigger challenge is to reach to masses, and we use mix of online and offline marketing strategies to reach customers. We are very pleased that conversion rate of customers who bought the service is very high, so we are only limited by how much awareness as we can spread."

What are your views on the MENA's entrepreneurship ecosystem?

"The MENA ecosystem is growing fast, and I am impressed with the mutuality that we have within such a short period of time. I see even a bigger opportunity for startups here because the market is underserved in so many segments. Institutions like DTEC [Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Centre] by Dubai Silicon Oasis are playing a vital role in developing and supporting the ecosystem."

What are your top three tips for an entrepreneur to start a business here in the MENA region?

"[Firstly], do [your] research and meet members of the market segment you are targeting to serve. [Second], build a flexible platform initially to accommodate change rapidly. [Lastly], reach out for support. You'll be amazed how much support is out there."

Related: Smarten Up: Dashroad Wants To Set The Stage For MENA's Connected Car Future
Sindhu Hariharan

Former Features Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Sindhu Hariharan is the Features Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East.  She is a financial consultant turned business journalist with a FOMO when it comes to everything technology.

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