Munich Startup: What does your startup do? What problem are you solving?
Florian Stein, Avantpark: We offer parking lot operators an all-in-one digital solution for parking lot management – from monitoring a maximum parking duration to parking permits and parking space management to e-charging stations with an integrated monitoring function. We rely on the technology of GDPR-compliant license plate recognition, which enables completely barrier-free and paperless parking.
Most companies, regardless of the industry, own a parking lot, but parking management is not part of their core business. Managing parking lots, however, takes time, money and a lot of effort. In fact, a parking lot is often the first and last touchpoint that a company has with its customers and has a significant influence on the entire customer journey and customer satisfaction as a result. We want to reduce the effort for parking lot operators and create a positive parking experience for their customers at the same time. With us, parking lot operators get everything from a single source: from planning, hardware and installation to going live, service and beyond.
Our individual services can be flexibly combined and all of them include access to our Avantpark customer portal as well as the automated tracking of parking violations. In the customer portal, parking permits can be managed and anonymized parking data can be viewed. The data can help to identify both potential and weaknesses and to adapt strategies accordingly.
Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!
Florian Stein: You always have to put it all in the context of the local market. Professional parking lot management using license plate recognition is actually still quite new in Germany, unlike in other countries. Of course, there are already solutions for monitoring or managing parking lots: Barrier ticket systems or manual monitoring with parking discs or parking tickets. But those still have many disadvantages.
Barrier systems are cost-intensive and prone to damage. The customer journey is also far from ideal since there’s often backup or lines at the barrier. Retrieving and storing a parking ticket also involves a certain amount of stress.
“Thanks to automation, 24/7 monitoring is possible”
Manual monitoring, on the other hand, involves a lot of resources and is patchy. It’s rarely possible to monitor a parking lot 24/7 and in any weather. As a result, parking violations go unpunished and revenue is lost from fee-based parking spaces.
With our digital parking system, we counteract all of these disadvantages. Thanks to automation, 24/7 monitoring is possible and it takes the burden off parking lot operators. However, our customers retain control over what is happening and over the regulations of their parking lot. With our customer portal, they also have a better overview. Because parking violation tracking is handled in our name, our customers’ brands remain protected.
Munich Startup: What’s your founding story?
Florian Stein: Avantpark was founded in 2020 as a spin-off from the British parent company Parkingeye Ltd. Parkingeye is already the market leader in digital parking lot management in the UK and has over 18 years of experience with more than 3,500 managed parking lots. We recognized the solution’s potential for the German market and founded Parking Solutions Deutschland GmbH, which operates under the brand name Avantpark.
We obviously benefit from our parent company’s experience and can draw on it a lot, especially in terms of development. In Germany, however, we’re still a young company that is steadily growing and developing.
Problem: Unfamiliarity with license plate recognition in Germany
Munich Startup: What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Florian Stein: Definitely the unfamiliarity with license plate recognition in Germany. It’s something we’re all familiar with, namely being skeptical about anything that’s new and therefore unknown. “I already have a barrier system. It works fine.” is something we often hear. But there’s another way to look at it: Just because something works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.
This is exactly where we come in. We inform our customers or potential customers about the functionality and advantages of our solution. Together, we identify what problems they’re struggling with in their parking lots, understand the requirements and develop an individual solution. Once the optimization potential has been recognized, then it’s suddenly “Okay, let’s do it!”. We’re happy to explain things in the beginning.
Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, and where in five years?
Florian Stein: Two topics are our top priority in 2023. On the one hand, we have our latest product “ParkEV,” e-charging stations with an integrated monitoring function, which are unique in the German market. This has enabled us to expand our offering for customers with something that is currently one of the most exciting and important topics in the mobility industry.
On the other hand, we’re concentrating on further sustainable growth this year. Sustainable because we don’t just want to acquire new customers. We also want our team to grow at the same time. This is the only way we can meet our high standards of service.
In five years, we want to be Germany’s leading provider of digital parking lot management using license plate recognition. Since we already have offices in Denmark and Austria, we also want the Avantpark brand to become the international contact partner for parking lot operators in the parking industry. This is how we would like to contribute to leading the world of parking to a digital future.
On the path to becoming a shooting star?
Munich Startup: How have you experienced Munich as a startup location so far?
Florian Stein: At the moment, we’re in Unterföhring, which is more of a neighboring community to Munich. We don’t see it as a disadvantage at all, however; quite the contrary. We were able to expand and have everything under one roof. That would have been difficult in the middle of the city. At the beginning of Avantpark, we were located in a co-working space right near the Siegestor, where we also had contact with other startups. So perhaps we do know a thing or two.
The number of newly founded startups in Munich in particular shows that the city is growing in popularity. And that’s for good reasons: a whole ecosystem of investors, funding programs and partners for startups has developed here. The pool of talent is also huge. That’s something we really like and we look forward to every new application.
Munich Startup: Hidden champion or shooting star?
Florian Stein: At the moment, a hidden champion on the way to becoming a shooting star. As I mentioned, our company and license plate recognition are still quite new in Germany. But there’s much more to the parking industry in general than most people realize.